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Sole leader after two rounds
14In chess, and not only in chess, winners need to score points. The alchemy of success is complex but one has to be smart, aggressive, confident and, not least, to avoid making mistakes. So far, the player who seems to have found the best recipe is Natalia Pogonina, who is the only one with 2/2.
Even though today we had 'only' two decisive games compared with yesterday's four, the chess spectacle was by no means of lower quality nor lacked the salt & pepper every chess fan is looking for.

Round 2 results:

SNo. Name Rtg Res. Name Rtg SNo.
12 IM Batsiashvili Nino 2485 ½ - ½ GM Ju Wenjun 2558 7
8 WGM Pogonina Natalija 2454 1 - 0 GM Cramling Pia 2521 6
9 IM Khademalsharieh Sarasadat 2403 ½ - ½ GM Harika Dronavalli 2511 5
10 GM Gunina Valentina 2496 0 - 1 GM Dzagnidze Nana 2529 4
11 GM Koneru Humpy 2583 ½ - ½ GM Zhukova Natalia 2484 3
1 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2509 ½ - ½ GM Zhao Xue 2506 2

In full motion

Standings after Round 2:

Ranking Crosstable after Round 2
Rank SNo. Name Rtg FED 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Pts
1 8 WGM Pogonina Natalija 2454 RUS * 1 1 2
2 11 GM Koneru Humpy 2583 IND * ½ 1
3 3 GM Zhukova Natalia 2484 UKR ½ * 1
4 4 GM Dzagnidze Nana 2529 GEO * ½ 1
7 GM Ju Wenjun 2558 CHN * ½ 1
6 12 IM Batsiashvili Nino 2485 GEO ½ * ½ 1
7 9 IM Khademalsharieh Sarasadat 2403 IRI ½ * ½ 1
8 1 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2509 BUL ½ * ½ 1
9 2 GM Zhao Xue 2506 CHN 0 ½ * ½
5 GM Harika Dronavalli 2511 IND 0 ½ * ½
11 6 GM Cramling Pia 2521 SWE 0 0 * 0
10 GM Gunina Valentina 2496 RUS 0 0 * 0

But let us have a look and enjoy once again the beautiful moments of today's round!

Sarasadat Khademalsharieh - Harika Dronavalli 1/2-1/2

Quite often in chess, as in life, one move has the power to demolish all your hard least this is what happened in Harika's game of yesterday. However, she has found the strength to stand up and fight back, taking risks and entering theoretical Benoni territories instead of adopting a more solid approach: "I wanted to have a game, to enjoy chess and forget about results and what is at stake".

Who said that the ladies are non-theoretical or less determined? Kindly have a look at this game!


Harika remembered the fashionable exchange sacrifice on f4 and played:
12... Rxf4 but found herself on her own soon, trying to figure out how exactly she could prove Black's compensation. After a well played middlegame part she had one crucial moment:


30... Qf5 was played, which is very logical, protecting the d-pawn but that handed Sara the initiative after 31. Re4 Rc8 32. d6. This was indeed a turning point in the game, as 30... Qh6!! (such a surprising move somehow) would have kept the advantage, since 31. Qxd3 runs into 31... Nf4.

Great start for Sara!

The Iranian IM suddenly found herself in the driver's seat and only the tenacious defence by Harika ("never give up is one of her recommended mottoes) brought her half a point.

And yet, the question whether material would prevail over initiative or vice-versa remained open until the very end when it was left... undecided! The draw looked like a fair enough a result. Almost...


Of course, the engines spoil the fun but it brings the truth into the spotlight too. Here Sara could have kept a serious advantage after:

40. Rf4! since 40...Qxe5 is not possible due to 41. d7! 
The scoresheet witnessed a more restrictive move:
40. Qxc5 after which the time control was reached but also a rather drawish endgame without the ladies on the board...we can conclude it was a hard fought draw, with the inherent ups and downs. 

Natalija Pogonina - Pia Cramling 1-0

Natalia Pogonina scored her second point in the tournament and is the sole leader after two rounds, using a similar overall strategy in both games. Even though she entered a slight time trouble, she didn't expose her position in any way and managed to maintain her strategic advantage intact.

Perfect score: 2/2!

Pia Cramling chose a Scheveningen setup which had been rehearsed by Spassky in his 1974 Candidates' Semifinal against Karpov and seemed to be doing all right. But very much in Karpov's style, the Russian managed to keep her control over the weak d5-square and prepared her kingside attack without rushing. When after thorough preparation the g- and h-pawns finally started to advance, the game was over quickly.


Despite their entirely different start in the tournament, both players were very relaxed during the press conference and took their time speaking about a woman chess professional life's hardships. As a mother it is not easy to stay away from home for so long, but both players' children are also playing chess and they are rooting for their moms when they are away. Natalia and Pia agree that chess has many educative virtues, but reaching the top requires hard work and sacrifices.
Even though Pia started with two losses, she is confident that in such a long tournament there will be time for recovering. Her play was somewhat marred by the tiredness from Gibraltar, but she will sit down with an open heart for round 3, as she loves chess no matter the results!

Valentina Gunina - Nana Dzagnidze 0-1

Valentina played another interesting game against Nana Dzagnidze this time, with both kings uncastled and lots of theory which both players could remember only partially.


It is always a joy (at least for the chess aficionados) to follow these sharp games, with very active kings, despite the serious dangers of being mated as the queens are still present on the board.

16... Ke7 was played, followed by 17. Nxb7 Qb6 and now the day would have looked different had Valentina played 18. Rb1 instead of
18. Rb3 which allowed 18...Ba4 and soon Black had no more headaches once the ladies were exchanged:
19. Rxb6 Bxd1 (18.Rb1 would have kept all the threats and pieces on the board since after 18...Qc6 White has 19. Be2 and 19... Rab8 for example, is not possible due to 20. Rc3! Qxc3 and 21.Qd6+)

Rough start but Valentina is a well known fighter and nine more rounds to go

Just like yesterday, the Russian GM threw away the game in practically just one unfortunate move, the apparently active 22.Rb7+, in fact leaving the c4-bishop hanging and pinned. Despite her losses in the initial rounds, there are reasons to hope that Valentina will come back in the tournament as in the past she once managed to recover with seven consecutive wins after a poor start.

Humpy Koneru - Natalia Zhukova 1/2-1/2

The Benko Gambit from this game led to an interesting positional and dynamic struggle in a true King's Indian style. Both players were content with their positions, but the draw was probably the most logical result. The square attracting the most attention was e5, being successively occupied by a black, then white and again(!) a black pawn, as Black tried stabilizing the position and White opening it.



12... e5 13. dxe6 fxe6 and now Humpy played what she thought was a good strategical decision, while her opponent was taken by total surprise, a pleasant one, as they commented after the game.
14. e5 dxe5 15. Nc3 sacrificing the pawn temporarely for a good cause: blocking the g7-bishop and freeing the e4-square for the knight.

After the good moves displayed by both players, a draw became inevitable.

Stefanova Antoaneta - Zhao Xue 1/2-1/2

The same psychological situation from Koneru-Zhukova animated the game Stefanova-Zhao Xue, as both players thought they had an advantage. And once again the result was in between - a draw. Much in accordance to her style, Antoaneta sacrificed one pawn in the opening and then another, leading to captivating dynamic play.


Black's last move was 11... Bb4 preventing White from developing easily. Or... was it?!
12. Nc3! was played after quite some thought, which is more than understandable given the risks White was going to take. But the compensation could have indeed paid off had Antoaneta played later on:
12...Bxc3 13. bxc3 Nxc3 and now instead of 14. Qb3 she could have chosen 14. Bxc6+ (as mentioned in the press conference) 14... bxc6 and 15. Qc2, keeping the upper hand.

The price of fame: interviewed before the game!

And just like yesterday Antoaneta played Kg1-h1, even though today it had some obvious logic, preventing the check on e2. In fact, it is actually the best move in the position!


Nino Batsiashvili - Ju Wenjun 1/2-1/2

As strange as it may seem, this was only the second game between Nino Batsiashvili and Ju Wenjun. They had met the previous month in Wijk aan Zee, during the Tata Steel Chess tournament and the game ended with the same result: a draw! 


In the classical Nimzoindian, White chose a fashionable sideline leading to a typical Isolani position. White maintained the more pleasant position for a long time and Wenjun confessed she was a bit worried about the ensuing rook ending, but rook endings are known to be all... 'drawn'!

Solid start for Nino with two draws

Even though the score records are essential, the real victory means a high quality and combativeness of the competition; so far, the Tehran tournament is a winner. But the chess wheel never stops spinning and tomorrow we will have round 3 at the usual time.

By the Press Officer Alina l'Ami

Round 2 photo gallery


Pairings & Results


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