banner gallery2
banner livegames2
banner livevideo2
logo tehran2016
Status quo
R7-14The seventh round offered a great, even though far from flawless, spectacle with five decisive games and only one draw, the record of militancy so far. The situation at the top remains intact as both leaders, Natalija Pogonina and Nana Dzagnidze, won with White against Humpy Koneru and Nino Batshiashvili, respectively. Their main followers are the Chinese players who both won today, Ju Wenjun with White against Antoaneta Stefanova and Zhao Xue against Pia Cramling with Black. The youngest player in the competition, Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, continues her ascension as she defeated Valentina Gunina with White. The only draw of the day was Harika Dronavalli - Natalija Zhukova, far from a cordial affair.

Round 7 results:

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

Preparing to enter the ring

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

Nana Dzagnidze - Nino Batsiashvili 1-0

It must be hard to play against somebody you know for years, with whom you share worries and hopes, prepare together for the Olympiads and other team competitions... And yet, Nana - Nino was a reckless strategic fight, eventually leading to a better endgame for White.

2725 performance and 1st position after 7 rounds

Nana wasn't too happy with her technique as for instance on move 64 (a magic number in chess!), Nino could have saved the game with:


64...Kc4 (capturing another pawn and securing the draw) instead of the losing 64...c5, which allowed White to be just in time with queening and regrouping against the c & d pawns. Later, Nino couldn't explain how come she didn't find the saving move with 25 minutes on the clock, but for Nana Dzagnidze this is an excellent result, maintaining her joint lead (by better tie-break) with Pogonina.

Natalija Pogonina - Humpy Koneru 1-0

And yet another point joins Natalija's collection
Slightly higher performance than Nana so far, 2738, but an inferior tie-break

Humpy met Natalija's Catalan with an ambitious line which had come into the limelight lately. Black allowed the exchange of her light-squared bishop for a knight then castled long, right under the pressure of the unchallenged g2-Catalan-bishop, after 5...Bd7 


6. Ne5 Bc6 7. Nxc6 Nxc6 8. 0-0 Qd7 9. e3 0-0-0

Recent games have shown that Black's counter-attack with ...h5-h4 shouldn't be neglected, but even though Natalija was visibly surprised by Humpy's choice, her well prepared and consistent queenside attack was more effective. The Indian GM confessed her disappointment during the press conference but, even though inside she must have been very affected, her demeanour was that of a true winner who also knows to accept a defeat. As for Natalija: how does she manage to win so many games? According to her, the secret is to focus on the journey and not on the destination, in other words on the game itself and not the final result.

Sarasadat Khademalsharieh - Valentina Gunina 1-0

Who could have thought that the basically peaceful Exchange Slav could generate such a sharp tactical battle as Sara - Valentina? I wouldn't have liked being in their trainers' and fans' shoes during the game as the engines' barometer indicated abrupt changes of evaluation several times. 

Two happy characters no matter the result
This was before and, unfortunately, I don't have an "after" but I guarantee: the smiles were present!

It always takes two to Tango and things really became messy after Valentina sacrificed her b7-pawn and Sara bravely grabbed it:

22. Qxb7 was played, to which Valentina responded:
22... Rc6 23. Qb8 and now, truthful to her uncompromising style, the Russian didn't retreat her rook back to c8 nor continued with 23... Rb6 or 23... Qxb8 but with:
23... Bc8?! allowing a nice sacrifice, spotted by Sara but somehow she failed seeing all the way through. Evaluating the final position is not always easy from afar. You can give it a try, White to play:

24. Bxg7! was the hidden resource and if Black takes:
24... Kxg7 25. Qg3+ Kh8 26. Rf7 Bf6 27. Qf3, hitting on the f6-bishop and the c6-rook; missed chance for White but the game still continued...

2610 performance, 4.5/7, 5th place and +20 rating points. Not bad at all!

With the mutual time trouble poking, Sara used the next favourable moment with 25.d5. Evgeny Miroshnichenko felt uncertain about White's chances as it is well known that Valentina feels like a fish in the watter when it comes to muddy positions.
And yet, the Iranian played well until she bluffed with:

34.Nf6+ (during the press conference, the players mentioned the better 34. Qd3). Valetina reacted well and emerged with an advantage out of the complications.
34... gxf6 35. Qxf6 Rxc3 36. Qxd6 Qe3+ 37. Kh2 Rd3

She most surely had a win somewhere, but gradually the position was leveled and a draw started looking probable. On move 60 though, the Russian displayed the same attitude as yesterday against Natalija Pogonina: instead of admitting the equality, she aspired for more, missed her opponent's answer and soon lost.


The king is not yet surrounded, as he can still retreat to e7 or e5 (looks a bit scary but that is not something Valentina would normally be worried about). But the g5 quadrate was mined:
60... Kg5? 61. Qh6+ Kf5 62. Qxh5+ (was what Valentina missed) where, obviously Black cannot take the queen due to Rf8+.

During the press conference Valentina was strong enough to display self-irony while Sara stated that the full point is good, but she would have preferred to take it with better play.

Ju Wenjun - Antoaneta Stefanova 1-0

How could I miss that?!

In a classical Reti, Ju Wenjun obtained an advantage with White against Antoaneta  Stefanova, mainly based on her strong bishops' pair. The Bulgarian defended with ingenious and creative ideas, but deciding upon the important structural modifications took her too much time. However, Antoaneta got an incredibly beautiful chance, after White rushed with:


38.Nxb4? Immediately after releasing the piece, the Chinese player saw the refutation of her combination, but in severe time trouble Antoaneta failed to do the same and lost relatively quickly after:
38... Rxb4 39. Ba3 Nc6 40. Rc1 Ne6 41. Rxc6 Qxc6 42. Qxb4 Bxd4 43. Qe7+ Kg8 44. Bd6...

But Black has an ace up its sleeves...:
38... Qxb4 can be played since 39. Qxb4 Rxb4 40. Rxe7+ Kxe7 41. Ba3 is not working in view of the amazing 41... Bc5!! - this can go straight into the tactics books.

Pia Cramling - Zhao Xue 0-1

In 3rd position with 5/7

This was an excellent day for the other Chinese player, too. After a slightly unusual opening (3... b5! - perhaps a favourite square for Xue this event?), she took over the initiative with Black against Pia Cramling. Both players agreed that White would have maintained drawing chances had she not played the passive:


22.Nb1, eventually costing her a pawn and the game after:
22... Rd8 23. Bxe7 Qxe7 24. Qc1 (if 24. Qe1 Qc4, attacking the a4 and e2 pawns) 24... Qxc1 25. Rxc1 Bxe2 
The players concluded that even after that, the endgame could have been stubbornly defended by White but in the end, Black's advantage prevailed.

Harika Dronavalli - Natalia Zhukova 1/2-1/2

The only draw of the day was Harika - Natalia. White met the Karo Kann with 2.c4, later grabbing and holding on the d5-pawn. The players agreed that Black had some compensation, but all in all White should be better. 

Harika regretted...

20.Nd1 suggesting that 20.Ne2 would have sent the knight on a better trajectory. She "forgot that Black can actually respond with 20... Bd5 as well", after which her plan with Qd2, attacking the h6-pawn was no longer as effective.
21. Qd2 Bxb3 22. axb3

Once the chance was handed, Natalia did not hesitate:

22... g5! 23. Bg3 f5 In the mutual time trouble Harika's 24.Nxg5 could have cost her dearly. She had seen in a flash the unusual and very strong idea 24.h4!! but feared it was too weird to be good. The game ended in a move repetition but with more time on Black's clock, White wouldn't have had an easy life.

The players may appear to be sitting but their hearts are running a marathon...

The tournament doctor makes sure nothing will go wrong...
... while anything that can go right, will go right, under the skillful hands of Ms. Sahar Nouri.

Behind the scenes - hard working people: responsible with the technical part Mr. Molaei

The camera magician and chess publisher: Mr. Mohammad Kheirkhah

The shoulder to shoulder race for the first place continues tomorrow with the 8th round and the entire crew will be waiting for you.

By the Press Officer Alina l'Ami

R7 photo gallery

© FIDE Grand Prix 2013    |    |