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There were two kinds of match-ups in the Round 1: games between a clear favorite and an underdog (approximately every third match), or completely even contests.

Not all the favorites managed to pass this stage, although some of them won their games quickly and elegantly.

Notes by GM Sergey Shipov


V. Ivanchuk — H. Steel


49.Qxd6! Another joke of the genius.

49...Nxd6! That's right, one has to lose with dignity. Besides, one can live a lifetime without capturing a single queen from Ivanchuk, so you don't want to miss a chance.



A. Grischuk — V. Genba


Black just retreated his king to h8, defending against Bh4-f6.

21.Bf6! Nevertheless!

21...gxf6 22.exf6. Here Black resigned, because on 22...Rg8 comes another sacrifice — 23.Rd8!, and mate is inevitable.


M. Vachier-Lagrave — Z. Rahman



White loses one of the pawns, and a draw seems inevitable. However, one can always play for a checkmate!

71.Kf3! Two knights cannot deliver mate even if the enemy king is blocked in a corner, however, the pawn on g2 controls the h3-square, and this nuance is critical.

71...Kg1. Desperation. On 71...Nxb6 there is 72.Kf2! Nac4 73.Nf1+ Kh1 74.N5g3#.

72.Nd4 f5. 72...Nxb6 leads to a similar mate: 73.Ne2+ Kh2 74.Kf2! Nac4 75.Nf1+ Kh1 76.Neg3#.

73.Ne2+ Kh1 74.Kf2 f4. The only way to live a little longer, but this is a hopeless life.

75.Nxf4 Nc5 76.g4! It turns out that both pawns have survived and are ready to promote.

76...Ne4+ 77.Kf3 Ng5+ 78.Kg3 Ne4+ 79.Kh4 Kg1 80.Nh3+. The king remains in jail.

80...Kh2 81.g5 Nc6. The knight can be sacrificed for one pawn, not for both.

82.g6 Nd6 83.g7 Ne7 84.Nf4. White is ready to put the knight on g4, completely blocking the enemy king, and then move his own king forward.

Black resigns.

Sometimes the favorites were forced to defend with utmost precision.


J. Corrales — J. Polgar


Giving mate to the great Judit Polgar is of course a great temptation.

22.Nf5! Nxe4! 23.Rxe4? White chases a ghost. Much better is 23.Be3! Qd8 24.Nxe7+ Rxe7 25.Qd4 with a decent compensation for a pawn due to weakness of the dark squares in Black's camp.

23...Bxe4 24.Qxe4 gxf5. The queen has no time to create mating threats.

25.Rc3. Resourceful, but insufficient. On 25.Qxf5 Black defends by 25...d5!, and if 25.Qf4, then 25...Bf6!

25...Bf6! Of course, Polgar was not satisfied with a draw after 25...fxe4 26.Rg3+ Kh8 27.Bg7+ Kg8 28.Bf6+ Kf8 29.Bg7+ with perpetual.

26.Rg3+ Kh8 27.Qxf5 Re1+. The hunter gets overly excited. The reserved 27...d5! is simpler.

28.Kh2 Be5 29.Bf4. Judit was probably attracted by the following critical line: 29.Qxf7 Bxg3+ 30.fxg3 Qg1#!

29...Rg8 30.Qxf7. This minor achievement gives White a chance.

30...Rxg3 31.Bxg3 Bxg3+ 32.Kxg3 Qd8 33.Kh2 Re8. Here he could defend more stubbornly, but it would require inhuman precision.

34.Kg1? Qe7 35.Qxe7. Or 35.Qf3 Qe1+ 36.Kh2 Qe5+ 37.g3 Qxb2.

35...Rxe7. This exchange effectively ends the game, as the rook quickly invades White's camp.

36.Kf1 Rc7 37.Nd4 Rc4 38.Ne2 Rc2. White resigns.


N. Guliyev — B. Jobava


If White had time to place his knight to d5, he would get a clear advantage, but it's Black to move...

29...d5! 30.exd5. On 30.Rd3 Black has 30...Qc7.

30...Bb8. The bishop finds some customers.

31.Qd4 Rf6 32.Rff3. An inaccuracy. White needed to remove the most valuable piece from the line of fire: 32.Kh1!, and Black cannot achieve any immediate gains, as 32...g5? is met by the deadly 33.Ne6! fxe6 34.Rxf6. The hardest part about this line was finding 32...Qb6 33.Qxb6 Rxb6 34.Re3 Rf6 35.g3 g5, and White does not lose a piece: 36.Rfe1! gxf4 37.Re8+ with equality.

32...Qb6! After the queen exchange White begins to suffer.

33.Qxb6. If 33.Qe4, then 33...g5 is possible.

33...Rxb6 34.Kg1 Kh7. The immediate 34...Be5! is simpler. Weaker is 34...g5 35.Nh5 Bxg3 36.Nxg3, and White gets a decent compensation for an exchange.

35.h4 Be5 36.Rh3 Rd6 37.Ne2?! Wrong. Much better is trading on f4 with an easy draw in a rook ending.

37...Rxd5 38.Rxf7 Bf6. Picking the f7-pawn was tempting, but White ended up with a bad knight against a strong bishop, and eventually lost the game.

Sometimes favorites got really lucky...


P. Eljanov — Y. Zherebukh


First you work to get a reputation, later your reputation begins to work for you. White's position here is extremely difficult. Pavel found the way out: he made an active move...

30.d7. ...and offered a draw! Yaroslav believed his reputed opponent and accepted the offer, missing the winning  30...Rxb2! 31.Qxb2 Nxe4 32.fxe4 Qe3, and the d7-pawn is lost, e. g., 33.Re1 Qxh3 34.Qd2 Rd8.

Or unlucky...


S. Halkias — A. Morozevich


Sasha completely outplayed his opponent in a harmless position, but made a mistake when the victory was up for grabs.

33...Bg4? Here is one of the many ways to win: 33...Rb2 34.Re1 (34.Ra1 Qc2!, and there is no defense against Rb2-b1; 34.Rd1 Bg4) 34...Bg4 35.Qg2 f3 36.Qf1, and now the rook on e1 gives Black a win: 36...Bh3! 37.Qxh3 Qxf2+ 38.Kh1 Qxe1+.

34.Qg2 Qc2. 34...f3 35.Qf1 Bh3 leads nowhere due to 36.Qxh3 Qxf2+ 37.Kh1, and White brings his knight to e3, threatening to check from f5.

35.Re1 f3 36.Qf1 Bxf5. White holds after 36...Re2 37.Ne3 Qxe4 38.Ra1 Be6 39.Qb1 as well.

37.exf5 Qxf5 38.Qb5. Black is still better and could make his opponent suffer for a draw, however, he was in time trouble and rushed.

38...Qc2? 39.Qxe5! A curious position with two extra pawns for Black arises after 39...Rxf2 40.Qe4+ Qxe4 41.Rxe4 Rg2+ 42.Kf1 (42.Kh1? Re2) 42...Rxh2 43.Re3 f2.


Despite extra material, Black has zero winning chances. White simply cuts off the opposing king and waits: 44.Re5 Kg6 45.Ra5 Kf6 46.Rb5 h5 47.Ra5 g5 48.Rb5 Kg6 49.Ra5 h4 50.gxh4 gxh4 51.Rb5, etc.

39...Rd1 40.h4 Rxe1+. Game drawn.


Two favorites were knocked out. Chinese grandmaster Wang Yue was clearly out of form and lost to Fier from Brazil. And the greatest sensation was created by the vice-champion of the world and regular participant of the elite tournaments.


P. Leko — S. Shankland


Peter slipped an opening advantage and was unable to maintain comfortable equality. The diagrammed position is difficult for White, but it can be saved by activating the bishop: 63.Be1! Kd7 (63...b2? 64.Bb4+) 64.Bc3 Nxe3+ 65.Kg3 — there is no danger here —  65...Kc6 66.Rb8 Nd1 67.Bg7! (the only move; 67.Bf6? loses to 67...b2+ 68.Kf4 Rf3+ or 67.Bh8 b2+ 68.Kf4 e3 69.Kf3 Ra8!) 67...b2+ 68.Kf4 e3 69.Kf3, and Black's passed pawns cannot reach their goal.

63.Rb7+? Ke6 64.g5. Too late is 64.Be1 b2, and there is no check from b4.

64...Kf5 65.Rb5+ Kg6. The White's pawn is disarmed.

66.Be1 b2. White resigns, as he loses a rook.


The Women World Champion attracted a lot of attention. She fought decently and had her chances, but failed to keep focused at all times. Maybe her problem was psychological — after all, she doesn't play any 2700-players in women events.


S. Movsesian — Hou Yifan

Black has great compensation for an exchange. Her bishops are surely not weaker than the b2-rook and the b1-knight. The World Champion played energetically and accurately in the time trouble, but suddenly loses her composure and makes mistakes after the control despite taking a lot of time, and this is really surprising.

42...e4. Who would think this pawn will be lost soon?

43.c4 Bd6. Of course not 43...Bxc4? 44.Rc2.

44.Rgb3 Bf7. Already an inaccuracy. The simple and solid 44...Bc6! allows Black to act from the position of strength. Later she could activate the king or transfer the rook via a8 to g8. White would probably have to return an exchange of b4 with equality.

45.Re2 e3? This is suicidal. Black could equalize by transferring the bishop to a4: 45...Bf4+ 46.Kd1 Be8! 47.Rxb4 Bd6! 48.Rbb2 Be5, and White is unable to hold an extra exchange: 49.Kc1 (49.Rb3? Ba4) 49...Bf4+! — the most accurate — 50.Kc2 Ba4+ 51.Kc3 Be5+ 52.Kb4 Bxb2 53.Rxb2 Bd1!, and as the g4-pawn falls, there is no way to avoid a draw.

46.Rbxe3 Kc6. The Chinese lady probably missed 46...Bf4 47.Kb2 Bxe3 48.Rxe3 followed by a check from e7.

47.Kb2 Ra8 48.Nd2 Rg8 49.Re4. White won a pawn without conceding anything, and soon converted his advantage.


In the return game Hou Yifan got a winning position, but simply did not believe it.


Hou Yifan — S. Movsesian


The protection of Black's king is scarce. It seems he cannot possibly survive.

27.Bf6! Elegant and strong. The simple 27.Qf4 was also good, as Black had to part with a piece: 27...Nxe5 28.Qxe5 d6 29.Qe1 b4, and White kept on attacking by 30.Ne4 d5 31.Nf6! Rxc2 32.Bh6!

27...Ne7. Hou Yifan admitted that she missed this move and lost her composure when it was played on the board.

28.Bxe7? White could win the game and advance to tie-breaks with a brilliant sacrifice: 28.Rxg7! Bxg7 29.Qg5. Perhaps the champion didn't see that after 29...Ng6 30.Qh6! Bxf6 31.exf6 Black gets mated.

Equally hopeless is 29...Nf5 30.Rf1! Kxh7 (30...Bxf6 31.exf6!) 31.Rxf5 Bh6 32.Qh5 Rg8 33.Qxf7+ Rg7 34.Bxg7 d5 35.Qh5 exf5 36.Qxh6+ Kg8 37.Qh8+ Kf7 38.Bf6, and Black can't take on c3 because he'll lose a queen.

28...Bxe7 29.Rf1 Rf8 30.Qd4 f5 31.Ne2. Another misstep. White had some practical winning chances after 31.exf6 Bxf6 (31...Rxf6 32.Rff3!) 32.Qg4! d5 33.Qxe6, and Black must seek survival by 33...Qc8 34.Qxc8 Rfxc8 35.Nxd5 Rxc2.

31...g5 32.Nf4? gxf4 33.Qxf4 Qe4! And 34.Qh6 is not a threat due to 34...Qxe5!

34.Qxe4 fxe4 35.Rxf8+ Bxf8 36.Rg8+ Kxh7 37.Rxf8 Rxc2. The resulting rook ending is difficult for White, and eventually she lost.


In the following game both White and Black had easy wins, but in the end the stronger player prevailed.


R. Wojtaszek — A. Pashikian


The players created an extremely complicated position that is impossible to handle without mistakes. Usually such positions are won by the player who makes a penultimate mistake.

19.f4 Bb8. The position may look peaceful, but it is not for long.

20.e5! f6! 21.Bf5 fxe5 22.Ne4. White develops the initiative using the d7-knight's suffering.

22...exf4 23.Bb4?! (23.Bxf4!) 23...Qe5? (23...Qf7!) 24.Qh5 g6 25.Qh4! Rcd8. Of course not 25...Qxf5? 26.Rxd7 Qxd7 27.Nf6+.

26.Bc3? White wins by 26.Bxd7! Qxe4 27.Bc5!



Here Black had to choose between three alternatives.

26...Qe7? Wrong choice.

After 26...Ba7+ 27.Kh1 Qxf5 28.Nd6 the game ends in a perpetual check: 28…Qe6 29.Nxb7 Rb8 30.Rxd7 Qxd7 31.Qf6 Re6 32.Qh8+ Kf7 33.Qxh7+ Ke8 34.Qg8+, etc. The right move is 26...Qxf5! 27.Rxd7 Ba7+! (the bishop goes to e3, which makes a difference compared to the variation 27...Rxd7 28.Nf6+ Kf8 29.Qh6+ Ke7 30.Re1+) 28.Kh1 Rxd7 29.Nf6+ Kf8 30.Qh6+ Ke7 31.Re1+ Be3!, and Black is winning.

27.Qxe7 Rxe7 28.Bxd7. Now Black loses material, but the game is still far from over.

28...Ba7+ 29.Kf1?! This gives Black an extra chance. More accurate is 29.Kh1, and 29...Kf8 30.Nf6 f3! fails to 31.gxf3 b4 32.axb4 axb4 33.Bd2! (33.Bxb4 c5!) 33...Kf7 34.Bg5 h6 35.Be8+ Rdxe8 36.Nxe8 hxg5 37.Nd6+ with a technically won ending.

29...Rxe4? Better choice is 29...Kf8 30.Nf6 b4! 31.Bd4 (31.axb4? Ba6+) 31...Bxd4 32.Rxd4 Kg7, and it is not clear how White can untie.

30.Be6+ Rxe6 31.Rxd8+ Kf7. The rest of the game was played only due to a shortage of time.

32.Rh8 Be3 33.Rd1 Re7 34.Rdd8 Ke6 35.Rhf8 Rc7 36.Bxa5 Re7 37.Bc3 Rc7 38.Rf6+ Ke7 39.Rh8. Black resigns.


Zhao Zong-Yuan — E. Tomashevsky

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0−0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0−0 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6 12.Re1 Bd6 13.g3 Re8 14.d4 Ra7 15.Rxe8+ Qxe8 16.Nd2 Re7 17.Nf3 f6.


This is a well-known theoretical position of the Marshall. White tries to find an improvement.

18.c4. 18.Kg2 led to a draw from the position of weakness: 18...Bg4 19.h3 Bh5 20.Bd2 Re2 21.g4 Bxg4 22.hxg4 Qe4 23.Qh1 Rxd2 24.Re1 Qxg4+ 25.Kf1 Rxb2 26.Bxd5+ cxd5 27.Ne5 Bxe5 28.Qxd5+ Kf8 29.dxe5 Qh3+ 30.Kg1 Qg4+ 31.Kf1 Qh3+, Almasi-Jakovenko, Khanty-Mansiysk 2007.

18...bxc4 19.Bxc4. Black's attack makes an impression.

19...Bg4 20.Bf1 Bb4! 21.Qb3 Bxf3. Unexpected and strong!

22.Qxf3 Re1. Black paralyzes the opponent with a double pin.

23.Qd3 Qg6 24.Qc4. White fails to sense danger. He had to give up a piece by 24.Qxa6! Qc2 25.Kg2 Rxc1 26.Rxc1 Qxc1 27.Bc4, forcing the opponent to sweat for a draw, as there is no perpetual check: 27...Qe1 28.Qxc6 Qe4+ 29.Kg1 Qb1+ 30.Bf1, etc.

24...Qe4 25.a3 Bc5!


A big surprise!

26.Ra2. 26.Qxc5 loses to 26...Qe2. 26.Qxa6 is also hopeless: 26...Qxd4 27.Qc8+ Kf7 28.Qf5 Qc4 29.Qh3 Qc2! The only way to keep fighting is 26.a4! Bxd4 27.Ra3!

26...Qb1! A deadly punch.

27.Bd2 Rd1 28.Qe2 Be7 29.Kg2 Kf8. A torturous move. Black doesn't have to rush to regain a piece.

30.Qxa6? Desperation. More stubborn is 30.b4 Rxf1 31.Qxf1 Qxa2 32.Qc1.

30...Rxd2 31.Qc8+ Kf7 32.Bc4 Qe4+ 33.Kh3 Rxf2 34.Qxc6 Qf5+. Mate is inevitable. White resigns.


A. Onischuk — I. Ivanisevic


Black built a seemingly solid fortress. However, the key to his position is the h-file.

20.f4! f5. 20...gxf4 loses immediately to 21.Qh5.

21.Qh5 Ndf6 22.Qxg5+ Ng7 23.d5 Qe7 24.fxe5 dxe5 25.exf5. White won a couple of pawns and easily concluded the game.

25...Qa3 26.Bb3 Qb2 27.Rd1 Qxc3 28.Rh3 Qa5 29.g4 Rbd8 30.Qh6 Rd6 31.g5 Ng4 32.Qh7+ Kf7 33.f6 Nxf6 34.Rf3. Black resigns.


Please, go through the next game in silence and admire White's perfect maneuvering.


S. Feller — V. Iordachescu


22.b5 Ne6 23.b6 Rc8? (23...axb6! 24.cxb6 Rc8 with equality) 24.bxa7! Ra8 25.Qa5! Ng5 26.Be2 Ne4 27.Rd4 f5 28.Bd3 Nf6 29.Ra4! (I've never seen anything like this in my life!) 29...Kf7 30.Rb1 Rd7 31.h3 Qe5 32.Qb4 Ng8 33.Qa3 Ne7 34.Rab4 Qc7.


35.Qb2! Rxa7 36.Qh8! Ke6 (36...h5 37.g4!) 37.a4 Qe5 38.Qxh7 Qc3 39.Rd4 Qxc5 40.Qh8 Qd6 41.Rh4 Rd8 42.Qc3 Kd7 43.a5 Kc7 44.Rhb4 Kc8 (44...Rb8 45.Rb6! and a7-a6) 45.Rxb7 Rxb7 46.Ba6 d4 47.Qb2 Kd7 48.Bxb7 dxe3 49.fxe3 Qc5 50.a6 Kc7 51.Kh1 Qxe3 52.Qa1 Rd2 53.a7 Rxg2 54.Qa5+ Kd7.


55.Bxc6+! Nxc6 56.Qd5+ Kc7 57.a8N+!! Black resigns.


This is how the Round 1 went on. And more exciting stuff is surely coming...

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