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Tehran WWC 4.1: Harika bulldozes through Dzagnidze

by Priyadarshan Banjan - 21/02/2017

It was a happy day for Indian chess fans (and Harika's grandmother) as she took a step towards the title of the world champion. Harika defeated Nana Dzagnidze of Georgia after the latter blundered just before making the time control. Joining Harika is Muzychuk with a win over Stefanova. Tania Sachdev is our guest analyst today and she has an instructive look at the big fight.

Tehran WWC 4.1: Harika bulldozes through Dzagnidze

Photos by David Llada


India's chances rest on the shoulders of Dronavalli Harika. The Andhra girl has it in her to become the first ever female world champion from India. And now, she is just one step away from the semi-finals.

All she has to do is beat the experienced Georgian Nana Dzagnidze (2525).

Harika in great spirits with her grandmother—the rock that has stood behind her for years.

Harika was determined as ever.

Dzagnidze defended with a French and surprised Harika with a sideline. Here, she maneuvered her knight from c6 to c4 with e5, gaining a 'tempo' over the white bishop.

But once the knight did reach c4, Harika played the strong Bg5 instead of Bc1. She played thus to provoke ...f6, weakening the e6 square.

Soon, Harika had a solid advantage thanks to her double bishops.

'The side with the advantage must attack,' said the great Steinitz. Harika starts pressing on the kingside as she has a definite edge to play with.

If you are a Premium member of ChessBase Account, you can simply log in to the Video Flat at, and watch a 20-minute lesson by GM Dorian Rogozenco on how to use the bishop pair to win games!

But maybe she was too slow? Dzagnidze is able to shift her rook from e8 to c4, and...

...her knight from c6 to f5 via e7. All this to pressurize the d4 pawn. Dzagnidze had rightly figured out the path to equality.

While the knight did reach f5, Harika put her bishop on g4 and sent her queen to e2. As soon as Dzagnidze played ...Nf5, Harika chopped it off with Bxf5. She had figured out a little trap. Black can still hold the draw with the intermezzo 39...Bxb2. But Black blundered on the 'infamous' 39th move and played 39...gxf5??, resulting in 40.Qe8!, and Harika is just winning!

Harika finished it off with a simple tactic that won one of the black pieces.

Analyzing Harika's game today is her team-mate from the Indian Olympic team—IM Tania Sachdev!

Harika Dronavalli (2539) - Nana Dzagnidze (2525)

[Event "Women's World Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.02.20"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Harika, Dronavalli"]
[Black "Dzagnidze, Nana"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C07"]
[Annotator "Tania Sachdev"]
[PlyCount "93"]
[SourceDate "2017.02.20"]
[SourceVersionDate "2017.02.20"]
{Clash of the titans! One has led India in team championships for many years
and the other has spearheaded the Georgian team. Two of the world's top female
players are facing each other in Iran. One of them will be eliminated from the
race to the coveted title of the Women's World Champion. Harika is a
naturally solid player with a strong positional understanding. She doesn't
take risks but waits for her opponent to go wrong. A pragmatic approach. Nana
has a contrasting style, she is not one to shy away from taking risks and her
natural inclination is towards aggressive positions. Given such contrasting
styles, this match up promises combative play. Both players are extremely
experienced in the match play format and with their similar rating strength
it's going to be a real fight. Harika is extremely confident in her rapid and
blitz ability. She has no hesitations about going into tie breaks. Until now,
all her matches have been decided in tie breaks despite her being a clear
favourite. If this match goes into tie breaks, there would be no clear
favourite. Nana, like Harika, is a very strong Rapid player. For this match
if I had to bet on one of them, for purely chess reasons alone, it would be
very difficult to do. I do believe their playing strength is level. Therefore,
cheering for Harika!} 1. e4 {A mini surprise By Harika. She plays 1.e4 but
rarely. We see 1.d4, 1.Nf3 1.c4 often from her.} e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 a6 {
A rare move. I highly doubt Harika had prepared this.} 4. Ngf3 {The main move}
c5 5. Bd3 {Not the most accurate. The way for white here is to dissolve the
central tension before developing the bishop.} (5. exd5 exd5 6. dxc5 Bxc5 7.
Nb3 Bb6 8. Bd3 {or}) (5. dxc5 Bxc5 6. Bd3 Nc6) 5... Nc6 {The drawback with Bd3
is that it gives black the additional option of} (5... c4 6. Be2 b5 {As
demonstarted in Birnboim,N (2367)-Hammer,J (2689) Gjakova KOS 2016 0-1.}) 6.
exd5 exd5 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. O-O Bg4 9. Nb3 {And now we have the IQP. One of the
most common pawn structures where blacks static pawn weakness of d5 is
compensated with dynamic elements such as piece activity along the e and c
file, a7-g1 and b8-h2 diagonals, the knight often jumps to e4 and c4. Both
sides have their trumps and plans.} Bd6 10. h3 Bh5 11. c3 Nge7 12. Re1 Qc7 13.
Be3 Ne5 $1 14. Be2 Nc4 15. Bg5 $1 {Provoking a pawn move which weakens squares,
before returing to c1} (15. Bxc4 {Would be a dubious exchange as this hands
over the double bishop pair to black as well as solves her structural problems.
}) 15... f6 (15... Nxb2 $2 16. Bxe7 $3 {Spectacular!} Nxd1 {loses to} (16...
Bxe7 {is less catastrophic for black but white is doing great after the simple}
17. Qxd5) 17. Bb5+ axb5 18. Bxd6+ Kd7 19. Bxc7 $18 {And white ends up with an
extra piece}) 16. Bc1 O-O 17. Nfd4 Bf7 18. Bg4 Kh8 (18... Rfe8 {Is the engine
suggestion, the point is to avoid giving the double bishop advantage to white.
Though the computer says black is doing absolutely fine, I feel its still
easier to play with white and the dangers are far from over for black. For eg.}
19. Ne6 Qb6 20. Nbd4 g6 (20... Nxb2 $4 21. Qf3 Nc4 22. Nxg7 $3 Kxg7 23. Bh6+ $3
Kg8 (23... Kxh6 24. Qxf6+ Bg6 25. Ne6 {is lost for black}) 24. Be6 {Whites
attack is unstoppable. Simply wants to take on f6 next} ({White wants to play}
24. Qxf6 {threatening mate on g7. But it doesn't work directly due to the
discovered} Bh2+) 24... Bxe6 25. Qxf6 $18 {is game over.}) 21. b3 Ne5 22. Be3
$14) 19. Ne6 Bxe6 20. Bxe6 {White has the 2 bishops and the d5 weakness. Black
has a strong knight on c4 and better placed pieces. A dynamically balanced
position. White must regroup fast} Rad8 {Making the d5 pawn immune with the
discovered threat of Bh2} 21. Nd4 {Blacks knight on c4 is a pain and for white
to make any progress he needs to get rid of it with b3. We also see how
important it was to provoke f6 weakening the e6 square. The white knight eyes
this jarring hole in blacks position} Nc6 {Black wants to get rid of this
knight as quickly as possible to avoid any Ne6 nightmares} 22. b3 Nxd4 23. cxd4
Na5 24. Bb2 $14 {The doubles bishop pair give white an edge} Nc6 25. Bg4 Qa5 {
Black plans to regroup his pieces} 26. a3 Bb8 27. Qd3 Rfe8 28. b4 Qc7 29. g3
Ba7 {The bishop has done his job on the b8-h2 diagnoal by provoking g3 and
creating some weakness. Now it transfers to the other one putting pressure in
d4} 30. h4 {Building pressure on the kingside} g6 (30... Re4 $6 {Tempting as
it leads to exchanges but runs into} 31. Rxe4 dxe4 32. Qxe4 Bxd4 33. Bxd4 Nxd4
34. Rd1 $1 {And now the natural looking} Nc6 $2 {Fails to the beautiful} 35.
Rd7 Qb6 $2 (35... Qb8 36. Qd5 $16 {with a lot of pressure}) 36. Qe6 Rf8 37. Be2
$1 {No way for the blacks queen to come back to the game!}) 31. Rxe8+ Rxe8 32.
Bf3 Qd6 33. Kg2 Kg7 34. Bc3 (34. h5 $142 {Would have increased whites advantage
} f5 35. hxg6 hxg6 36. Rh1 Rh8 37. Rxh8 Kxh8 38. b5 {With too many weaknesses
in blacks position}) 34... Rc8 {Black aims at putting pressure on the d4 pawn}
35. Re1 (35. h5 {White must play this to create additional weaknesses. Its
also important for white to act quickly as black wants to increase pressure
against the d4 pawn}) 35... Ne7 36. Bb2 Rc4 37. Qe2 Nf5 38. Bg4 Bxd4 39. Bxf5 {
A practical chance taken by Harika. Ironically this move solves all blacks
problems instantly but black must find the right way to respond. Not an easy
task when the clock is running low.} (39. Bxd4 Rxd4 40. Bxf5 gxf5 41. Qe7+ (41.
Qe8 Re4) 41... Qxe7 42. Rxe7+ Kg6 43. Rxb7 Rd3 44. a4 f4 {With a slightly
better endgame for white but black should be able hold this without too many
problems}) 39... gxf5 $4 {A big big blunder by Nana! completely missing the
danger on blacks king. The natural hand move pretty much loses on the spot!!} (
39... Bxb2 $1 {The correct way} 40. Bd3 (40. Qxb2 gxf5 $15) 40... Rc1 $1 {
Neutralises immediately} 41. Qe7+ Qxe7 42. Rxe7+ Kh6 $11) 40. Qe8 $3 $18 {
In true Harika style, she immediately punishes her opponent! Black is lost
after this and the game finished quickly} Bxb2 41. Re7+ Qxe7 {The only move} (
41... Kh6 42. Qf8+ Kh5 43. Rxh7+ Kg4 44. Qg7#) 42. Qxe7+ Kg6 43. Qe8+ Kg7 44.
Qd7+ Kg6 45. h5+ Kh6 46. Qxd5 Rc2 $4 {Everything is lost but this loses on the
spot} 47. Qb3 $1 {and black loses the bishop. Nana ended the suffering and
resigned. With white Harika kept a slight pressure through out with the the 2
bishops. Not a big significant edge but a constant nagging one, and eventually
her opponent collapsed. This happens ever so often in chess. A huge win for
Harika and now she needs a draw tomorrow to qualify for the Semis. A dream
situation. Nana has the white pieces and must win to stay in the race. She has
to go all out! Get ready for the excitement tomorrow :)} *



What better way to improve your middlegame than learning from Tania herself? Improve your chess with Tania Sachdev!

Ukraine's Anna Muzychuk vs. Bulgaria's Antoaneta Stefanova was a big-ticket clash that was won by...

...Muzychuk who has a great chance of making her family the only one in history with two world champions!

Tan Zhongyi, who eliminated Padmini Rout in the tiebreakers of the third round, drew with...

...the clear favourite to win the title—Ju Wenjun. Ju would be looking forward to press with white in the return game.

19-year-old Chinese phenom Ni Shaquin credited her success of reaching the quarters to her boyfriend. Who this boyfriend is yet to be known. She settled for a draw with white against...

...former world champion Alexandra Kosteniuk.

Watch and Download to your ChessBase, all the games from Round 04


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