But 11 matches will be decided by tiebreaker on Monday.

The 64-player field in the Women’s World Championship in Tehran is down to 43 after 21 women were eliminated on Day 2.

But there are still 11 undecided matches that will go to tiebreaker games on Monday. That is an unusually high number in a knockout format because the top seeds play way down in Round 1. 

Sunday was an exciting day as many of the games were pretty wild. For a while, it looked like Nana Dazgnidze of Georgia, the No. 5 seed, would not even get on the scoreboard, much less have a chance to survive to Round 2. But she got a bit lucky against Khaled Mona of Egypt, No. 60, and then played well to make the most of her good fortune.

Mona, Khaled vs. Dzagnidze, Nana
Womens World Ch. | Tehran | Round 1.2 | 12 Feb 2017 | 0-1
Bb2 White has an enormous advantage, and she had a good 30 minutes left on her clock before the first time control to put the game away. But instead things started to unravel.
32. Nh6?
32. Rc2! This move would almost certainly have led to a win.
32... Ba1 33. Rh2! And Qh8 mate is a serious threat. After:
33... Ke8 34. Qg8+ Kd7 35. Qxf7+ Kc6 36. e4! The Black king will not be able to find shelter.  )
32... Qe8! The only move, but a very good one. The Black king is a lot safer than he looks and the position is no longer so simple.
33. Rc2 Rxb3! 34. Kf1
34. Rxb2? White has a fork in this position.
34... Rxb2 35. Qh8+ Ke7 36. Qxb2 But so does Black!
36... Nd3+  )
34... Qe6?
34... Bc3 This move was necessary, but it's basically impossible for a human to find in time pressure.
35. Rxc3 Rxc3 36. Qh8+ Ke7 37. Qxc3 Qb5+ With a draw. But that would not have been enough for Black because she needed to win to even the score in the match.  )
35. Rxb2! White still has a huge advantage, but the position is not all that clear. In such situations, strange things can start happening.
35... Qc4+ 36. Re2 Ne4 37. Qh8+?! A step in the wrong direction.
37. Bf2! This move guards everything.
37... Rb1+ 38. Kg2 And now Qxe2 does not include a check.
38... Qxe2 39. Qxf7#  )
37... Ke7 38. Nf5+?
38. Ng8+! This move would still have likely led to a win.
38... Kd7 39. Nf6+! Nxf6 40. Qxf6 White has removed the dangerous Black knight. After:
40... Rb1+ 41. Kf2 The White king is safe and Black has nothing better than:
41... Rxg1 42. Kxg1 Qxe2 43. Qxf7+ With a queen-and-pawn ending that White should win and in which White has little risk of losing.  )
38... Kd7 Now Black's king is safe... and White's is not.
39. Nd4 Ng3+ 40. Kf2 Nxe2 41. Nxe2 a5 A tough game for Khaled Mona.
42. Qg7 Kc8 43. Qg8+ Kb7 44. g6 Qe4 45. Kg3 Qxg6+ 46. Qxg6 fxg6 47. Nd4 a4 48. Bf2 c5 49. Nc2 Rc3 50. Na1 Rc1 51. e4 Rxa1 52. f5 gxf5 53. exf5 Kc6

Ekaterina Atalik of Turkey, No. 26, also won to force a tiebreak match. I was a bit surprised that her opponent, Salome Melia of Georgia, No. 39,  chose the very risky Benoni Defense in a game where a draw would send her through to Round 2. Atalik played a very fine game.

Atalik, Ekaterina vs. Melia, Salome
Womens World Ch. | Tehran | Round 1.2 | 12 Feb 2017 | 1-0
b5 Normally achieving b5 in the Benoni can be considered a huge success for Black, but that is not the case if White can play e5.
17. e5! I like this move a great deal.
17... Nfe8?!
17... dxe5? 18. d6  )
17... b4! This move was necessary, but after:
18. exd6! Rxe1+ 19. Qxe1 Nce8 20. Ne4 Nxe4 21. Qxe4 Nxd6 22. Qe3 c4 23. Qc5! Black would be under a lot of pressure. White is going to play Bf4 next.  )
18. Ne4
18. Bg5! This move was even stronger.
18... f6 19. exd6! The point. Now the bishop on g7 looks terrible.
19... Nxd6 20. Rxe7 Qxe7 21. Bf4 White has a decisive edge.  )
18... h6
18... Bxe5 19. Nxe5 And Black is struggling.
19... Rxe5 20. Bf4  )
19. Be3 bxa4 20. Nxd6! An energetic and strong move.
20... Nxd6 21. Bxc5! The point. White is down a piece for the moment, but the knight on d6 is not going anywhere. Once White takes it, he will be up a pawn and with control of the center.
21... Ncb5 22. Bxb5? A bit impatient, but White still has clear edge.
22. Qxa4! Black still cannot move her knight. She is still losing.  )
22... Nxb5 23. Bxe7 Qxe7 24. Qxa4 Bb7 25. Rad1 Usually, two bishops are better than a rook and two pawns in the middlegame, but not if the two pawns are on e5 and d5 blunting the scope of the bishops. Black is in bad shape.
25... Rd8 26. Qc4 Kh7 27. d6 Qe8 28. Qh4 Bxf3 29. gxf3 Rd7 30. Qe4 Qe6 31. Kg2 Rd8 32. f4 The pawns are beginning to march.
32... h5 33. Rd3 Kg8 34. Red1 Bf8 35. f3 Rc8 36. d7
36. f5! This was more precise, but the move played in the game does not spoil White's position.  )
36... Rd8 37. Qb7 Be7 38. Rc1! White is threatening Rc8.
38... Qa2 39. Rd2 Qa4 40. Qe4! On the last move before time control, White plays a safe move to prevent Qxf4.
40... Qa5 41. Qd5 Kf8 42. Rc6 Qb4 43. Rc4 Qb3 44. Qd3 Qa2 45. Rc6
45. f5 This would have won more quickly, but, once again, the move played by White is good enough.  )
45... Qa4 46. f5 gxf5 47. Qxf5 The pawns are too strong and White's rooks are much better positioned than Black's pieces. Note how awful the Black rook on d8 is.
47... Qh4 48. Qh7 Qg5+ 49. Kf1 Qg7 50. Qxh5 Na7 51. Rh6 Bg5 52. Rh8+ Ke7 53. Rh7 Qxh7 54. Qxg5+ A fine game by Atalik.

Sarasadat Khademalsharieh of the host country, No. 20, also won a fine game against Sopiko Guramishvili of Georgia, No. 45, to send her match to tiebreak.

One player who avoided tiebreaks was Rout Padmini of India, No. 40, who upset and eliminated Elina Danielian of Armenia, No. 25, with a win that was, in my opinion, the cleanest game of the tournament so far.

Padmini, Rout vs. Danielian, Elina
Womens World Ch. | Tehran | Round 1.2 | 12 Feb 2017 | 1-0
15. Bc3 Qxc5? This was the only real mistake Black made all game, but it's almost decisive. White now has a space advantage, a pawn wedge on e5, a lovely outpost on d4, and a simple plan of opening the f-file.
15... Bxe5! This move was necessary, as it would have destroyed the White pawn center. Black would then have had chances in a complicated position.  )
16. Nf3! White overprotects e5 and gets ready to invade using d4.
16... Kg8 17. Bd3 Bg6 18. Nd4! Not fearing the loss of the e-pawn.
18... Kh7
18... Bxe5? 19. Nxe6! And White wins material.  )
19. g3! Another strong move. White is preparing to play f4.
19... Rhf8 20. Qd2 Qc7 21. Rae1 White's play is simple, clean, and elegant. She just brings all her pieces into play and prepares f4.
21... Kh8 22. Bxg6!
22. f4 This is good, too, but I like the move played by White even more, as it brings the Black knight to g6.  )
22... Nxg6 23. f4 gxf4 24. gxf4 f5 cannot be stopped.
24... Rg8 25. Kh1 Ne7 26. f5! Nxf5 27. Nxf5 exf5 28. Rxf5 Qc6? This leads to the loss of the queen, but Black was going to lose anyway.
28... Rae8 29. Qxd5 Re7 30. Ref1 White is up a pawn and has much more active pieces.  )
29. Rf6 A very clean and impressive game from Padmini. If she can keep up this level of play, she will be a major threat in the tournament.

Hopefully the tiebreaks will be as entertaining as the other games have been. 


Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 4 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He was also a member of the team that won the gold medal at the 2016 Chess Olympiad. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter, has his own site, and is also on Facebook.