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Tehran WWC TB01: Harika qualifies

by Priyadarshan Banjan - 14/02/2017

It was close but as Capablanca once said, good players are always lucky. However, in the first rapid tiebreaker, Harika used the legacy and technique of another world champion — Anatoly Karpov. Know what happened and learn some really great methods to handle opposite coloured bishop positions in the middlegame, and also, how to use the computers in our master analysis of the day.

Tehran WWC TB01: Harika qualifies

Harika Dronavalli was expected to smash through the defenses of her much lower rated Bangladeshi rival WIM Shamima Akter. However, what happened in the classical mini-match surprised many of her fans. She could not press much with the black pieces, and with white, she played indecisively and was lucky to escape with a draw.


But good players are always lucky, as Capablanca famously said. Good players are always fortunate because fortune favours the brave.

And Harika meant business in the first rapid tiebreaker where she played like Anatoly Karpov to restrict her opponent. It was a fantastic victory for her as Black simply could not move at one point!

Nihal returns with his analysis of this key game.

There is a lot to learn from Harika's game as Nihal points out in his analysis. Observe how he focuses on the pawn structure and the opposite coloured bishop theme. But more importantly, you can learn how to use computers in tandem with your own calculations to improve your chess skills.


Harika Dronavalli - Shamima Akter (Analysis by Nihal Sarin)

[Event "Women's World Ch. 2017"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.02.12"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Harika, Dronavalli"]
[Black "Shamima, Akter"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A06"]
[Annotator "Nihal Sarin"]
[PlyCount "97"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2003.06.08"]
1. Nf3 d5 2. e3 {This is quite a harmless system} c5 3. b3 {Now the play leads
to something like Queens Indian with an extra move for white.} Nc6 4. Bb2 Bg4
5. Bb5 e6 {I don't like this move. It is a normal-looking move, but it allows
white to double and ruin the black pawn structure.} (5... Qc7 $5 {looks
interesting, aiming to recapture with the queen on c6.} 6. h3 Bh5 7. g4 Bg6 8.
Bxc6+ (8. Ne5 e6 9. h4 f6 10. Nxg6 hxg6 {White's kingside weaknesses
compensate for the bishop pair.}) 8... bxc6 $5 {Let's be flexible with our
calculations. Here, in this case, recapturing with the pawn looks good, as the
queen controls e5, which was the reason why white played h3-g4 in first place.}
9. Ne5 e6 10. h4 f6 11. Nxg6 hxg6 $13) 6. h3 Bh5 7. Bxc6+ $1 {A good decision,
crippling black's pawn structure.} bxc6 8. d3 Nf6 9. Nbd2 Bd6 10. g4 {This is
a very good idea, cementing the knight on e5.} Bg6 11. Ne5 Qc7 12. f4 $14 {
White has a very pleasant position. She has a grip on the e5 square, and the
knight is fantastically placed here. The black pawn structure is crippled and
the bishop on g6 is doomed. Moreover, h4 could be a very serious threat.} d4 {
This is not a good move objectively. However, it is a good practical move in
my opinion and hence worth playing in the rapid game, given the situation.
Black wants to react sharply, immediately, in the centre. It is understandable
that black wants to do something. Also, it is important to understand
computers and their approach to this position. The engine suggests something
like 12...0-0 which I would never even consider because of h4, but this is
nothing scary for the engine.} 13. Ndc4 (13. exd4 Nd5 14. Qf3 cxd4 15. Bxd4 f6
16. Nxg6 hxg6 $11 {Black has counterplay. This time, the computer agrees with
me.}) 13... Nd5 14. Qf3 Bxe5 {This move wins a pawn for the moment, but black
will lose it back with a horrible, isolated pawn structure.} (14... f6 15.
Nxd6+ Qxd6 16. Nc4 Qc7 17. f5 exf5 18. gxf5 Bf7 19. e4 $16 {is bad news for
black.}) (14... Nb4 15. O-O-O $5 Nxa2+ 16. Kb1 Nc3+ 17. Bxc3 dxc3 18. Nxd6+
Qxd6 19. Nc4 (19. Qxc6+ $4 Qxc6 20. Nxc6 a5 $11) 19... Qd7 {was my original
line, but when you dig deeper...} 20. f5 exf5 21. gxf5 Bxf5 22. Qxf5 $1 $18 {
Originally, I had missed this trick completely!}) 15. fxe5 Nxe3 16. Nxe3 Qxe5 $2
17. O-O-O $6 {Original Note: I awarded this move with an exclamation mark....
New Note: ...but the computer has found an amazing resource that is difficult
to foresee. I was amazed.} (17. Qxc6+ {might be good, but I don't believe it is
as strong as 17.0-0-0.} Ke7 18. Qb7+ Kd6 {Despite the extremely shaky position
of the black king, there is no immediate way to get to it. But the computer
takes this line and improves it with one small addition:}) ({But the key to
the position, the essence, is in the move} 17. h4 $3 {as was pointed out by
the computer to my surprise.} h5 (17... Qxe3+ 18. Qxe3 dxe3 19. h5 $18) 18.
Qxc6+ Ke7 19. Qb7+ Kd6 20. Rh3 $1 {The entire point. The inclusion of h4 to my
original line lets us play this. Black can just not capture the knight on e3.
The additional point is:} hxg4 21. Kd1 $1 {It is good to know how machines
help us improve our understanding of chess. The inclusion of one pawn move has
finished Black already.}) 17... Qxe3+ 18. Qxe3 dxe3 19. Bxg7 Rg8 20. Bf6 {
White is much better here. She has a pawn, but more importantly, this is a
position with opposite coloured bishops. Thematically, white can simply attack
on the dark squares now. Editor's Note: Check out the video below for more
information.} Rb8 21. Rde1 Rb4 22. Rxe3 $16 {Black's pawn structure is very
bad. Plus there is a problem on the dark squares as mentioned earlier.} Rf4 (
22... h5 $5 23. gxh5 (23. g5 Rf4 {Black can try holding this position.}) 23...
Bxh5 24. Re5 Bf3 25. Rf1 Bg2 26. Rg1 Rg6) 23. Be5 Rf2 24. Rg1 Kd7 25. Bg3 Rf6
26. Re5 $18 {Now white wins the pawn and soon the game.} c4 27. bxc4 Ra8 28.
Kd2 h5 29. Ke3 hxg4 30. hxg4 $18 {Now black has zero chances. The bishop on g6
is completely dead. Harika is playing like the great world champion Anatoly
Karpov!} Bh7 31. Rh5 Bg8 32. Rb1 Rg6 33. Kf3 a6 34. Rb7+ Ke8 35. Bd6 f5 36. g5
Rc8 37. c5 {Now the black king is in grave danger.} e5 38. Re7+ Kd8 39. Rxe5
Bxa2 40. c4 $1 {An easy and very strong move. The bishop cannot return to the
defence of the king.} Rg8 41. Rh7 Bb3 42. Ree7 Bd1+ 43. Kf4 Ra8 44. Rd7+ Kc8
45. Rc7+ Kd8 46. Rhd7+ Ke8 47. Be5 a5 48. Re7+ Kd8 49. Bf6 {And black will be
mated soon. A very impressive performance, and a very important game for Harika
in the tiebreaks. A draw in the next tiebreak game was enough for Harika to
qualify to the next stage. A very nice crushing victory over WIM Shamima Akter
of Bangladesh, who had been performing quite well. A well-deserved victory for
Harika who played like Karpov!} 1-0


A great game reminding us of Karpov in his heydays, using the theme of opposite coloured bishops. In the second game, she coolly held with the black pieces to qualify for the next stage where she plays the Uzbek player Dinara Saduakassova.
 [Event "FIDE World Women Chess Championship "]
[Site "Moscow"]
[Date "2017.02.14"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Shamima, Akter Liza, Bangladesh"]
[Black "D.Harika, India"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C10"]
[Annotator "JMD"]
[PlyCount "149"]
[EventDate "1946.??.??"]
[EventType "k.o."]
[EventRounds "15"]
[EventCountry "IRI"]
[SourceDate "2017.02.14"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. e5 f6 5. f4 Qe7 6. Nf3 Qf7 7. Bd3 Bb4 8. Qe2
Nge7 9. O-O O-O 10. Bd2 a6 11. Rae1 f5 12. a3 Bxc3 13. Bxc3 Bd7 14. Kh1 Kh8 15.
Ng5 Qg6 16. Rf3 h6 17. Rh3 Kg8 18. Nf3 Na7 19. Bb4 Rae8 20. Nh4 Qf7 21. Bxe7
Rxe7 22. Rg3 Rc8 23. Qf2 Bb5 24. Bxb5 axb5 25. Ree3 Nc6 26. Rb3 b4 27. axb4 Ra8
28. Ra3 Ree8 29. Rgb3 Qe7 30. Ng6 Qf7 31. Nh4 Qe7 32. Rxa8 Rxa8 33. Ra3 Rxa3
34. bxa3 Nxd4 35. Qxd4 Qxh4 36. g3 Qh5 37. Qd3 Qe8 38. Kg1 Qc6 39. Kf2 Qb6+ 40.
Kg2 Qc6 41. b5 Qc5 42. a4 b6 43. c3 Qa3 44. Qc2 Kf7 45. h3 h5 46. g4 hxg4 47.
hxg4 g6 48. gxf5 gxf5 49. Kg3 Qa1 50. Kg2 Ke7 51. Qb3 Qe1 52. Qb4+ Kd7 53. Qd4
Qe2+ 54. Kg1 Qe1+ 55. Kg2 Qe2+ 56. Kg3 Qg4+ 57. Kf2 Qh4+ 58. Ke2 Qg4+ 59. Kd2
Qg2+ 60. Kd1 Qh1+ 61. Kc2 Qe4+ 62. Kd2 Qg2+ 63. Kd3 Qe4+ 64. Kd2 Qg2+ 65. Ke3
Qe4+ 66. Qxe4 dxe4 67. Kd4 Kc8 68. c4 Kb7 69. Ke3 Ka7 70. Kd4 Kb7 71. Ke3 Ka7
72. Kf2 Kb7 73. Kg3 Kc8 74. Kf2 Kb7 75. Kg3 *


Photos in the report by Niusha Afshar.

Compare Harika's bishop on g3 with the one on g8! Amazing.
Macro alias: EmbedProduct


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