Eleven of those 32 had to win tiebreakers on Monday (rapid and, in a couple of cases, blitz games). As often the case in games with faster time controls, there were a lot more mistakes than in games with classical time controls.
One player who definitely was not happy with her result was Daria Charokchina of Russia, the No. 43 seed. She failed to capitalize on a move order error in Game 1 of her tiebreaker against Huang Qian of China, No. 22, and went on to lose with White. That is almost a death sentence in a knockout event.
Charochkina, Daria vs. Huang Qian
Womens World Ch. |Tehran |Round 1.3 |13 Feb 2017 |0-1
9. Bxc4Nbd7?This is not the best move order.
( 9... O-OAnd Black is fine. )
10. Qc2?Missing the opportunity
( 10. Qb3!And White will win material. 10... Qe711. Bxf7+Qxf712. Qxb4 )
10... g611. O-O
( 11. Qb3!Again, this was a stronger move. )
11... O-OThe position is balanced. 12. f3Rc813. Kh1c5I have always thought that these positions are fine for Black. White will not be able to play e3-e4 and her bishops are not effective, while Black's pieces are very active. 14. Ba2a615. Bd2Qe716. Rae1Qd617. Rd1cxd4!?Black changes the balance of the game.
( 17... Qe7There was nothing wrong with repeating the position as White has no good plan. )
( 18. Qb3!?I doubt either player even considered this funky computer move. )
18... Kg719. Rfe1Qb620. d5?This type of move is always a sign things have gone wrong. The bishop on a2 is now blocked and essentially a piece of dead wood.
( 20. Bf4This move would have been fine. Chances would have been roughly equal. )
20... Rfe821. Qd3Bd6Black has a clear edge. Her pieces dominate the dark squares and White has many weaknesses, not to mention bishop on a2, which continues to have nothing to do. 22. Bc1Qb423. g3h5!I like this move.
( 23... Rxe1+24. Rxe1h5This sequence would have been a stronger option, but in a rapid game, where there is less time to think, I will spare Black from any criticism for not wanting to cede the e-file. )
( 24. Rxe8Rxe825. Qc4This was a better try, stopping h4, but Black would still have had an advantage. )
24... h425. Bb1?The last mistake.
( 25. Rxe8Rxe826. Qd4This would have at least forced a trade of queens, though after: 26... Qxd427. Rxd4hxg328. hxg3Nh529. g4Ng3White's position would have been very uncomfortable. )
25... Rh8!White will not survive the coming assault. 26. Ne2Ne527. Qe3Rce828. Nd4hxg329. hxg3Nxf3!A pretty tactic to finish off a nice game. 30. Qxf3Rxe131. Nc2Rxd1
( 31... Rh2+This move was even nicer, but the move played by Black also wins. 32. Kxh2Qh4+33. Kg2Qh1+34. Kf2Qf1# )
Having to play for a win with Black and no time to prepare is really a crapshoot, and she got steamrolled in the second game after taking more risks than normal.
Jean Pierre / FIDE
Nana Dzagnidze of Georgia, No. 5, who had played really poorly in regulation and was very lucky to even make it to the tiebreak against Khaled Mona of Egypt, had a much easier time against her opponent in the faster time controls. Her poor form did not continue and she won the tiebreak, 2-0.
Dzagnidze, Nana vs. Mona, Khaled
Womens World Ch. |Tehran |Round 1.4 |13 Feb 2017 |1-0
Bd6Black has played the early middlegame in a suspicious manner, but if she can manage to play f5, she will not be that much worse. Dzagnidze had no intention of allowing this. 13. e4!Before Black can play f5, White takes control of the center. Now the Black knight on h5 looks ridiculous. 13... dxc4
( 13... dxe414. Nxe4Bc715. Rad1White has a huge advantage. )
14. e5!White does not even bother yet with taking the pawn on c4. There is no reason to allow Black to gain some breathing room by allowing e5.
( 14. bxc4e5White would also have a clear edge, but the move played in the game was more straight forward. )
14... fxe515. dxe5Bc7
( 15... cxb3?16. exd6And White would win a piece )
16. Qe4!Again, eschewing taking the pawn, at least for a moment. Black does not have time to take b3 16... g6
( 16... cxb317. g4!And the knight would be trapped. )
17. Qxc4This is a positional catastrophe for Black. 17... b518. Qe2Bb719. Bh6Ng720. Ne4One look at the dark squares, the bishop on b7, and the knight on b8 is enough to know that Black cannot survive. 20... Nd721. Rac1Nxe522. Nc5Nxf3+23. Bxf3Bc824. Bxc6With equal material and a completely dominating position, Dzagnidze finishes off her opponent rather easily. If she can play like she did in this game, and not the way she did the first two days, she might be a strong contender for the title. 24... Ra725. Ne4Bb626. Bg5Qf727. Bf6Nh528. Be5Bd729. Rfd1Bxc630. Rxc6Bd831. Qg4Nf632. Bxf6Bxf633. Qxe6Qxe634. Rxe6Bg735. Rdd6Rfa836. Kg2a537. Rb6b438. Nd6Bd439. Rc6Rd740. Nc4a441. Rcd6Rxd642. Rxd6Bc343. Rd7a344. Ne3Re845. Kf3Re546. Ke2Rc547. Kd3Rh548. h4Re549. Nd5Be150. Nf6+Kf851. Nxh7+Ke852. Nf6+Kf853. Ne4Ke854. Rd4
Harika Dronavalli of India, No. 4, was another higher rated player who turned things around in the tiebreakers. Dronavalli had drawn both her games in regulation against Akter Liza Shamima of Bangladesh. But in the tiebreaker, Dronavalli used her superior knowledge of openings with reverse colors to score an easy win with White, and that was enough to send her through to Round 2.
Dronavalli, Harika vs. Shamima, Akter Liza
Womens World Ch. |Tehran |Round 1.3 |13 Feb 2017 |ECO: A06 |1-0
( 1. d4Nf62. c4e63. Nc3Bb44. Nf3b65. Bg5h66. Bh4g57. Bg3Ne48. Qc2Bb79. e3Bxc3+10. bxc3d611. Bd3f512. d5Nd713. Nd4Ndc5Black is fine in this position and has scored well in recent practice. In the game, Harika got the same position, but up a tempo. 14. Bxe4fxe415. Nxe6Nxe616. Qxe4 )
1... d52. e3c53. b3Nc64. Bb2Bg4?!I don't like this move too much
( 4... Nf6The bishop would be fine on c8 (and ultimately b7). For example: 5. Bb5Bd76. c4e6And Black is fine. )
5. Bb5!e66. h3Bh57. Bxc6+!I like this move a lot. Dronavalli plays this move before Black has an opportunity to play Nge7 to avoid doubled pawns. 7... bxc68. d3Nf6?!This move is asking for trouble.
( 8... f6Would have probably been fine. The e5 square is under control and the bishop will not get trapped on g6. She could then continue Bd6 and Ne7, after which Black would not be worse. )
9. Nbd2Bd610. g4!Bg611. Ne5!Qc712. f4d4Now White has a fairly typical Nimzo set-up, but up a tempo. That makes all the difference. 13. Ndc4Nd514. Qf3
( 14. Nxd6+Qxd615. Nc4Qc716. Qf3This move was even stronger but Dronavalli's choice was also fine. )
14... Bxe515. fxe5Nxe316. Nxe3Normally the queen would be on d1 in this position if it was a standard Nimzo. 16... Qxe5
( 16... dxe317. O-O-OBlack probably cannot survive. She will get a pawn to e3, but it will be lose and she cannot hold on to the pawn on c5 either. )
17. O-O-OQxe3+18. Qxe3dxe3Black is up two pawns for the moment, but after: 19. Bxg7!Rg820. Bf6White is only down one pawn and she will soon win the pawn on e3. Then the rest of the Black pawns will start to fall. 20... Rb821. Rde1Rb422. Rxe3Rf423. Be5Rf224. Rg1!Safety first. White prepares Bg3 to expel the invading rook. 24... Kd725. Bg3Rf626. Re5Now White wins another pawn. 26... c427. bxc4Ra828. Kd2h529. Ke3hxg430. hxg4Bh731. Rh5Bg832. Rb1Rg633. Kf3a634. Rb7+Ke835. Bd6f536. g5Rc837. c5e538. Re7+Kd839. Rxe5Bxa240. c4Rg841. Rh7Bb342. Ree7Bd1+43. Kf4Ra844. Rd7+Kc845. Rc7+Kd846. Rhd7+Ke847. Be5a548. Re7+Kd849. Bf6
The second begins Tuesday. Based on how the players have performed so far, I think that Rout Padmini of India, No. 40, has a great chance to upset Zhao Xue of China, No. 8, and advance to Round 3.
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.
After a draw against Ian Nepomniachtchi, Teimur Rajabov won the tournament. One of the strongest players, Rajabov had not won a major tournament lately, but has shown phenomenal form in Geneva and managed to overpower some of top world’s players
World’s best chess players, bankers, diplomats, watchmakers and businessmen came together to celebrate the opening of the FIDE World Chess Geneva Grand Prix at the Four Seasons Hotel. Geneva is now looking forward to 9 days of intense chess battles which will possibly determine a winner of the series.