The tournament finished Sunday and included most of China’s top players and a few elite foreign players.

The last couple weeks have been extremely busy when it comes to top-level chess. The Sparkassen Chess Meeting in Dortmund, Germany, (which was won byMaxime Vachier-Lagrave of France) and the Bilbao Masters Final in Spain, which will end Saturday, overlapped and featured many of the world’s top players.

But there was yet another super tournament during the same period: the Hainan Danzhou competition in China. A 10-player round-robin, it included most of China’s top players and a handful of top foreign competitors as well. The average rating of the players was well above 2700 — the level of super grandmasters.

The tournament was won by Ian Nepomniatchi of Russia, who played delightfully combative games. Out of his nine rounds, he only drew two! It’s very rare to see a player win a 10-player round robin with two losses, but Nepomniachtchi overcame those loses by winning five games. Of those wins, my favorite was his game against Peter Leko of Hungary.

Leko, Peter vs. Nepomniachtchi, Ian
Hainan Danzhou | China | Round 4 | 17 Jul 2016 | 0-1
14. Kh1 Bd8! A very nice move. Black wants to play Bb6 to eliminate the bishop pair and trade off the tall pawn on e7 that was not helping him.
15. f4?!
15. Na5!? This seems to be more natural to me. I wouldn't want to trade center pawns.  )
15... Re8! 16. c4 White tries to strengthen his center, but...
16. fxe5 Nxe5 17. Nd4 g6 White probably should have tried something like that, though he would not have been better. Black's centralized pieces would have given him a good game.  )
16... b5! Undermining White's center. When the Black knight reaches c4, it is going to be a problem for White.
16... Bb6? Would have been less effective.
17. Bxb6 Nxb6 18. fxe5 Rxe5 19. Rxf6! gxf6 20. Nd4 White has a strong attack.  )
17. fxe5
17. cxb5  )
17. c5 dxc5  )
17... Nxe5 18. cxb5 axb5 19. Nd4 Nc4! 20. Bxc4 bxc4 White's center is coming under a lot of pressure. Note how the rook on a8 and the queen on b8, which were both passive a couple moves ago, are now perfectly positioned to harass White's pawns.
21. Bg1?!
21. Nf5 This was a better move, though still I would prefer Black after
21... Ne4 22. Qd1 Bf6  )
21... Qb7! Black wants to take the pawn on d5 with the queen, not the knight.
21... Nxd5? 22. Nf5  )
22. Qc2
22. Nc6 Ne4  )
22... Ne4! Energetic and strong. White is in no position to try to save the pawn on d5.
22... Qxd5 23. Rad1 This is good for Black but less clear than the game continuation.  )
23. Rae1
23. Rad1? Rxa2  )
23. Nc6 Bf6! And the queenside crumbles.  )
23. Rfd1 Qxd5  )
23... Qxd5 24. Rf5 Qb7 25. Rb5 Qe7 26. Rf1
26. Rxh5? Unfortunately for White, he cannot win back his pawn.
26... Nf2+! 27. Bxf2 Qxe1+ 28. Bxe1 Rxe1#  )
26... g6 In addition to White's other woes, he is down a pawn.
27. Nf3
27. Qxc4 Nd2  )
27... Qe6 28. a4 h4 29. Nd4 Qd7 30. Qxc4 White won his pawn back, but his pieces are sidelined and his kings position is about to get opened up.
30... h3! 31. Rf4 The rest of the game was marred by time trouble, but I still enjoyed how Nepomniachtchi played.
31. g3 Bf6  )
31... Nc5 32. b3
32. Qd5 Offered more resistance.  )
32... hxg2+ 33. Kxg2 Rc8! Including another piece in the attack.
34. Qf1 Bg5! Black gains time for his attack.
35. Rf3 Ne4! 36. Rd3 Qg4+ 37. Kh1 Rc1 38. Qg2 Qh4 39. Rf3 Be3! The final finesse and a nice touch by Nepomniatchi.
40. Ne2
40. Rxe3 Nf2+  )
40... Nf2+ 41. Rxf2 Bxf2 42. Nxc1 Bxg1!
42... Re1? It was not too late to mess up the attack.
43. Ne2! Rxe2 44. Rf5! And White would continue to live.  )
43. Qg3 Qd4 44. Qxg1 Qd2 45. Nd3 Qxd3 46. Rg5 Re2 A fine attacking game by Nepomniachtchi.

While Nepomniatchi clearly deserved to win, I was also very impressed by how well Pentala Harikrishna of India played. He seemed to have a tough tournament — he often emerged from the opening with without any advantage and his opponents were not giving him many chances to succeed. This makes it all the more impressive that he finished second. His best game was undoubtedly his victory over the tournament winner.

Harikrishna, Pentala vs. Nepomniachtchi, Ian
Hainan Danzhou | China | Round 7 | 17 Jul 2016 | 1-0
9. a4 b6?! This move looks dubious as it allows White to be able to play Nd5.
9... Be7 I generally prefer White in these positions, but this development scheme is not bad for Black. He could then follow with Nc5 and Be6.  )
10. Nd5! And White is able to play his other knight to c3 without much difficulty.
10... Nxd5
10... Bb7 11. Nec3  )
10... Nxe4? 11. Bg2 And Black would already be falling apart.
11... f5 12. Bxe4 fxe4 13. Nec3  )
11. Qxd5 Rb8 12. Nc3 Bb7 13. Qd2!? An interesting square to choose
13. Qd1 looked more natural to me  )
13... Nf6 14. Bg2 Whites position is better because of the weakness of the d5 square and the poor position of the bishop on b7. In this line, it really belongs on e6.
14... Be7 15. O-O O-O
15... h4 I think Black should have included this move. The reason will be apparent later.
16. g4  )
16. Qe2 h4 17. gxh4! A resource White did not have if the rook were still on h8. His king is safe enough and he is up a pawn.
17... b5
17... g6 This looked more natural to me, preparing Nh5, but the engines prefer the move played in the game.  )
18. axb5 axb5 19. h5! White did not want to allow g6 followed by Nh5
19... b4 20. Nd1! White does not want the pawn structure to change.
20. Nd5?! Nxd5 21. exd5 Bc8! This gives Black decent counterplay.  )
20... Ra8?
20... d5! I think Black should have used this opportunity to play d5 while he still could.  )
21. Rxa8! Qxa8 22. Re1! White has overprotected the e4 pawn, so Black has no counterplay and his position is very difficult.
22... Re8 23. c4! Another strong move. White wants to forever shut the door on the possibility of Black playing d5.
23... Bf8?
23... bxc3! This would help Black play d5, but it permits White's knight back into the center and gives White a passed pawn. Nonetheless, I probably would have played this way.
24. Nxc3  )
24. Bd2 Rc8 25. Bg5! White is up a pawn and Black has no compensation.
25... Nh7 26. h4
26. Bh4 The engine prefers this move, but I don't think there is anything wrong with Harikrishna's choice.  )
26... Qa2 27. Bf1 Rc7 28. Qd3 Ba6 29. b3 Bc8 30. Ne3 Whites strategic triumph is complete. He has kept his extra pawn, stopped any pawn breaks in the center, and is ready invade with Nd5. The rest requires no comment.
30... Be6 31. Nd5 Rb7 32. Bh3 Qa8 33. Bf5 Ra7 34. Nxb4 Ra1 35. Rxa1 Qxa1+ 36. Kg2 Bxf5 37. exf5 e4 38. Qxe4 Qc3 39. Nd5 Qxb3 40. h6 gxh6 41. Bf6 Nxf6 42. Nxf6+ Kg7 43. Nd7

Another game I was impressed by was Hou Yifan’s lone win of the event in Round 7. She was really struggling after six rounds. She had lost two games and won none and was stuck in her slump that had dropped her out of the world’s top 100 players. A lot of people would crumble psychologically in a situation like this, but the Women’s World Champion showed her mental toughness by crushing Wang Hao, one of her Chinese compatriots.

Wang Hao vs. Hou Yifan
Hainan Danzhou | China | Round 7 | 17 Jul 2016 | ECO: E05 | 0-1
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Nf3 Be7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O dxc4 7. Ne5 Nc6 8. Bxc6 bxc6 9. Nxc6 Qe8 10. Nxe7+ Qxe7 11. Qc2 c5 12. Qxc4 cxd4 13. Qxd4 e5 14. Qh4 Rb8 15. b3 Qe6 16. Na3 Rd8 This is a reasonably well known position, but now Wang started to drift.
17. Qc4!? This is an interesting move, but I think it was asking for trouble.
17. Nc4 Ba6 Black has good compensation; probably enough for a pawn  )
17... Qh3! Black is in no mood to mess around. The White kings position is precarious.
18. f3
18. Qh4 Repeating the position is not especially impressive, as Black can also play
18... Qxh4 When she should be fine.  )
18... Bb7! Black is ready to break through with e4.
19. Qc2? Wang got a little spooked by the threat of e4, and quickly fell apart. One mistake was all it took.
19. Bg5! White should eliminate the knight on f6, after which he may still have some edge.
19... Qf5 20. Bxf6 Qxf6 21. Qc5 Black has some compensation for being down a pawn, but it is probably not enough.  )
19... e4! Simple and strong. Black is ready to begin the attack.
20. Nc4 Rbc8! 21. Rf2 Qh5
21... h5!? The engines suggestion also looks good as h4 is going to hurt White.  )
22. Be3? A mistake; it's hard to imagine what Wang could have missed.
22. Bb2 This was White's last chance to hold on. Black would have several options, but nothing amazing.
22... e3 23. Rg2 Ba6  )
22... exf3 23. exf3 Bxf3 And Black's attack is going to be decisive.
24. Bg5 Be4 25. Qc1 Ng4 26. Re2 Bf3


Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 7 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 is at @GMShanky on Twitter and is also on Facebook.