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Harika smashes Short!

by Sagar Shah - 29/01/2016

The third round at the Gibraltar Masters turned out to be an excellent one for Indians. Harika was surely the performer of the day as she played a nearly flawless game against Nigel Short. Vishy Anand showed exactly why he was rated 340 points above his opponent and Aravindh Chithambaram once again impressed us with his imaginative attacking abilities. We also have a very nice blitz tournament report sent to us by IM Nisha Mohota from the venue!

Pictures by Sophie Triay and John Saunders


Nearly a year ago Nigel Short, in his column for the New in Chess, wrote about how men are hardwired to be better chess players than women. This resulted in a huge debate which saw Nigel being the cener of attack from women and international press all over the world.

Yet, Nigel's point was simple: Have a look at the statistics - there is only one female in the top 100 player's list in the world. Women all over the world wanted to get back at Short proving that they were not worse than men. But how could they? Nigel Short was a strong 2684 grandmaster and beating him would be close to an impossible task for 99% of them. The woman players needed some strong representatives to beat the English grandmaster and they found one at the Gibraltar Masters 2016!

Nigel faced an extremely strong female grandmaster in the third round and slumped to a miserable loss. Any guesses on who she is? 

She is none other than India number two Harika Dronavalli

The thing which made this victory even more special was the fact that the girl from Andhra completely outplayed her legendary opponent. Move by move she increased the pressure and soon Short was left gasping for air. A tactical blunder towards the end, sealed the deal in Harika's favour. This game is a must watch, but before that try to see if you can find Harika's nice little finishing trick:


Nigel took the pawn on d5 with his rook hoping for exd5 Bxf5 when he would have at least some counterplay. But Harika found the loophole. Can you do the same?
[Event "Gibraltar Masters 2016"]
[Site "Caleta ENG"]
[Date "2016.01.28"]
[Round "3.12"]
[White "Short, Nigel D"]
[Black "Harika, Dronavalli"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C03"]
[WhiteElo "2684"]
[BlackElo "2511"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "62"]
[EventDate "2016.01.26"]
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Be7 {This is a line which has been essayed by Nigel
Short with Black on many occasions.} 4. e5 c5 5. Qg4 Kf8 $5 (5... g6 {weaking
the dark squares is something that Black would like to do.}) 6. dxc5 h5 7. Qe2
Bxc5 8. Nb3 b6 $5 (8... Bb6 {looked more natural but Harika prefers to protect
her bishop. If Niget takes it then bxc5 will give her a good centre.}) 9. Nh3
Qc7 10. Bf4 Ne7 {With knights coming to g6 and c6 the pressure on the e5 pawn
begins to increase.} 11. O-O-O Ng6 12. Kb1 Nc6 13. Re1 a5 $1 {Black's play is
very natural. This prepares to kick the knight with a4 and also go Ba6.} 14.
Nxc5 bxc5 15. Qe3 c4 $6 (15... Qb6 $1 $17 {Would have maintained a solid edge
and asked the knight on h3 what exactly is it doing there.}) 16. Qc5+ {Now
White gets some activity.} Kg8 17. Bc1 a4 18. f4 Nge7 19. Ng5 Nf5 20. Rd1 Ra5
21. Qf2 (21. Qa3 {looks like a precarious location for the white queen but it
stops a4-a3.}) 21... Rb5 22. c3 Qa5 $1 {Attacking the c3 pawn.} 23. Qc2 Rb8 (
23... a3 $5 {was natural. Maybe Harika was afraid of} 24. b4 cxb3 25. axb3 {
But now after} Rc5 $1 {Black holds the advantage as c3 is weak and about to
fall.}) 24. Ka1 Ba6 25. Nf3 Qb5 26. g3 a3 27. bxa3 Qa5 28. Bh3 Bb5 $1 {
Preparing Ba4. Black has an overwhelming iniative and now Nigel cracks.} 29.
Rxd5 $2 {exd5 Bxf5 was playable for White. But now Black has a finishing shot.}
Ba4 $1 30. Qd2 (30. Rxa5 Bxc2 $19 {There is a mate on b1 is the neat point.
Black wins an entire rook.}) 30... Qxd5 31. Qxd5 Bc2 (31... Bc2 $1 32. Bd2 exd5
$19 {And magically the knight on f5 has been defended!}) 0-1



Vishy Anand was all concentration personified and crushed his Chinese opponent without any difficulties. Have a look at the clock! 40 minutes ahead. There's a reason why he was called the speed king.

Anand's game gives you a thorough demonstration of how to play when your opponent's king is in the centre and has no safe hiding place.

[Event "Gibraltar Masters 2016"]
[Site "Caleta ENG"]
[Date "2016.01.28"]
[Round "3.18"]
[White "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Black "Xu, Xiangyu"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B61"]
[WhiteElo "2784"]
[BlackElo "2466"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "59"]
[EventDate "2016.01.26"]
{Chinese players are always under-rated and this 2466 could be much stronger
than his rating. But Anand shows that when he is form such players are no
match for him.} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 {
Going for one of the sharpest and most popular line in the Classical - the
Richter Rauzer.} Bd7 7. Qd2 Rc8 8. O-O-O Nxd4 9. Qxd4 Qa5 10. f4 h6 (10... Rxc3
{is the main line.} 11. bxc3 (11. Qxc3 $6 Qxc3 12. bxc3 Nxe4 $44) 11... e5 12.
Qb4 Qxb4 13. cxb4 Nxe4 14. Bh4 {is not scoring so well for White but the
computer is totally in favour of the white pieces here, which is the reason
why Anand must have decided to give this line a go.}) 11. Bxf6 gxf6 12. Be2 Qc5
13. Qd3 {Any endgame is usually fine for Black whose king will feel
comfortable in the centre. Hence, White preserves the queen.} Bg7 (13... f5 14.
e5 $1 Bg7 15. Rhg1 {With the idea of g4 was seen in Karjakin-Balogh,2005.}) 14.
f5 $1 {Stopping Black from play f5.} h5 15. Kb1 Bh6 16. Rhf1 h4 17. Nd5 Ba4 18.
b3 Bd7 {White has mobilised all his forces and now it is time to play
powerfully. Anand's next move shows that not all conventional wisdoms should
be taken on their face value.} 19. b4 $1 {Wise coaches used to say, "Do not
move your pawns in front of your king!" But Anand figures out that with his
lead in development, this slight weakening poses him absolutely no problems
especially because the rook on h8 is so out of the game.} Qc6 20. Rf3 {The
idea is to play b5 followed by Qb3 and prepare Rc3!} (20. c4 {was equally good.
}) 20... Qa4 21. a3 Kf8 22. c4 Qc6 23. Rh3 {The rook could the other way as
well!} Bg5 24. g3 {Suddenly the king on f8 begins to start feeling the heat.}
e6 {Black gets impatient and tries to break free. But in fact just falls
deeper into the hole.} 25. gxh4 $1 Bxh4 (25... exd5 26. hxg5 $1 Rxh3 27. Qxh3
$18) 26. Nc3 (26. Rxh4 $1 {was a nice shot.} Rxh4 27. Nxf6 {With a crushing
advantage as nasty things like Qg3 and Rg1 are threatened.}) 26... Ke7 $6 (
26... Qb6 {was better stopping Nb5.}) 27. Nb5 Bf2 28. Nxd6 $1 Rcd8 29. Nxf7 $1
{These sacrifices are just child's play for Anand to calculate.} Rxh3 (29...
Kxf7 30. Rxh8 Rxh8 31. Qxd7+ $18) 30. Nxd8 {A clean victory for the Indian
maestro.} (30. Nxd8 Rxd3 31. Nxc6+ $18) 1-0


With back to back victories Anand is now on 2.5/3 and faces Grigory Oparin (2565) in the third round 
Sethuraman beat Bai Jinshi with a fine piece sacrifice and now leads the tournament wth 3.0/3. He will be up against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the fourth round on the top board.
Once again Aravindh Chithambaram impressed us with his attacking play by beating fellow Indian grandmaster Sandipan Chanda. Aravindh is on 3.0/3 and faces Harikrishna next. We would like to remind you that the last time Aravindh played against Hari at the Qatar Masters 2015 the game ended in a draw.

After a draw in the first round Surya is back and is now on 2.5/3

Padmini Rout is playing some amazing chess as she drew Edouard Romain (2617) and Axel Bachmann (2610) in rounds two and three respectively 
Sundararajan Kidambi held the strong Cuban Bruzon Batista to a draw
Tania Sachdev seen in conversation with Chief Minister of Gibraltar Fabian Picard
Watch the fourth episode of the Day's Play with Tania:

Blitz event report by IM Nisha Mohota

The extra events in Gibraltar is what makes the festival special. Today there was a team blitz event from 9.p.m. Unfortunately I could not play in it as my main game continued for more than six hours - almost seven! I was at the chess board with my opponent- first playing, then analysing! In a way it was good that my game finished late- not being able to play the team blitz acted as a silver lining- I could take photos and watch the fun!
Each team needed to have four players.
The winning team - Latinos!

Runner's up - Too fast too strong

With his quick eye and excellent tactical vision Vidit is a strong blitz player
Recently wed Elisabeth Paehtz with her husband IM Shytaj Luca

This was from the last round and if you see properly (pic is a little hazy) everyone in Simon William’s team started laughing- something happened on board 4 (extreme end) and the full team ended up having a guffaw! That’s the fun of blitz!

Most interesting for me was to watch 77 year old Stewart Reuben in action!

Gunina and Stuart Conquest in action! It is nice to see commentators, tournament director, arbiters in action in blitz!

The report of the blitz tournament was sent to us by IM Nisha Mohota who is playing in the Gibraltar Masters 2016. After playing for nearly seven hours against GM Pontus Carlsson and drawing her game, Nisha then took the pictures of the blitz tournament, came back to her room and sent us this very special report. Hats off to her stamina and also her love for the game! We thank Nisha for being a reporter on site and sending us these lovely tidbits for our readers to enjoy.

Round 4 on 2016/01/29 at 15:00

Bo. No.   Name Rtg Pts. Result Pts.   Name Rtg No.
1 2 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2785 3   3 GM Sethuraman S.P. 2639 25
2 33 GM Lenic Luka 2611 3   3 GM Jakovenko Dmitry 2732 7
3 58 GM Harika Dronavalli 2511 3   3 GM Rapport Richard 2721 9
4 64 WGM Goryachkina Aleksandra 2502 3   3 GM Bacrot Etienne 2697 11
5 14 GM Ragger Markus 2689 3   3 GM Muzychuk Anna 2537 47
6 4 GM Harikrishna P. 2755   3 GM Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. 2500 65
7 40 GM Vazquez Igarza Renier 2572   GM Nakamura Hikaru 2787 1
8 42 GM Oparin Grigoriy 2565   GM Anand Viswanathan 2784 3
9 6 GM Yu Yangyi 2747   GM Maze Sebastien 2591 35
10 8 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw 2727   GM Tregubov Pavel V. 2582 37

Get the results and pairings specifically of only Indian players from chess-results website