Hunan International Open

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Bobby Ang

Chess Piece

Hunan Belt and Road International Open
Hunan, China
July 29-August 6, 2019

Final Top Standings

1. GM Surya Shekhar Ganguly IND 2638, 7.0/9

2-3. GM Yu Yangyi CHN 2736, GM Bassem Amin EGY 2707, 6.5/9

4-9. GM Ivan Cheparinov GEO 2666, GM Wang Hao CHN 2725, GM David Anton Guijarro ESP 2678, GM Francisco Vallejo Pons ESP 2687, GM Wei Yi CHN 2737, GM Maxim Matlakov RUS 2701, 6.0/9

10-14. GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son VIE 2636, GM Yu Ruiyuan CHN 2464, GM Zhou Jianchao CHN 2608, GM Bogdan-Daniel Deac ROU 2621, GM Ju Wenjun CHN 2595, 5.5/9

Total Number of Participants: 73 players, out of which there are 43 International Grandmasters (GM), 21 International Masters and 2 FIDE Masters.

Time Control: 90 minutes with 30-second increment from move 1

The Belt and Road China Hunan International Chess Open had a lot of 2700+ GMs taking part because of its huge cash prizes:

$50,000 for 1st place

$25,000 for 2nd place

$15,000 for 3rd place, etc.

There was a no prize-sharing policy in place. If, for example, two players tied for first place normally each of them will receive $37,500 ($50,000 1st place plus $25,000 2nd place then divided by two). In Hunan whoever finishes first after tie-breaks are applied receives the 50,000.

In addition to the large prize fund this policy may have contributed to the fighting atmosphere in the tournament and a large number of bloodthirsty chess was played.

Do you remember the Indian GM Parimarjan Negi? Born Feb. 9, 1983 in New Delhi, he achieved the grandmaster title at the age of 13 years, four months and 22 days. At that time he was the second youngest ever GM ever in history behind Sergey Karjakin (12 years seven months), but that record has slipped down to 6th because of the recent wave of new child prodigies. No. 2 now is Gukesh of India (12 years, 7 months, 17 days), no. 3 Javokhir Sindarov (Uzbekistan) at 12 years, 10 months, 5 days, no. 4 Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu (India) 12 years, 10 months, 13 days, and no. 5 Nodirbek Abdusattorov (Uzbekistan) at 13 years, 1 month and 11 days.

Negi became champion of India in 2010, the Asian champion in 2012, then played top board for his country in the 2014 Chess Olympiad in Tromso (Norway) where they made history by winning the bronze medal.

Then, at the very height of his career, he retired from chess to go to the USA and study in Stanford University where he graduated as a Mathematics Major in 2018. Negi is currently a research student (PhD) in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Anyway, in order to finance his schooling in Stanford he wrote a series of awesome opening books for Quality Chess. Since he did not have any more plans to compete there was no reason not to reveal his opening secrets and special theoretical studies. In “1.e4 versus the French, Caro-Kann and Philidor” he recommended a theoretical novelty against a certain line in the Winawer French which we are going to see on the board in the following game.

Lagno, Kateryna (2549) — Ganguly, Surya Shekhar (2638) [C18]
Hunan Belt and Road Open Changsha CHN (2.4), 30.07.2019

Over the years there have been many claims of refutations of the French Winawer. I remember in the 80s Yasser Seirawan’s “Inside Chess” magazine even had a series on its untimely demise. But for every refutation a counter is always found, and the fight goes on up to today. GM Ganguly is one of the opening’s loyalists, and he is proven right once again in the following game.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 cxd4 8.Bd3 Qa5

The main line is 8…Qc7. The text move also become popular because of GM Alexander Rustemov (more well-known as the former second of Alexander Morozevich) who scored many good wins with this move.

9.Ne2 0–0 10.Bg5 Ng6 11.Qg3!

Negi’s novelty, instead of the standard 11.f4. The idea is to “prepare a quick h4–h5 while crucially safeguarding the queen from the …Nd7/…f5 plan which has been solving all of Black’s problems.” (Negi).


Keeping f6 guarded as well as threatening …Nc5 to get rid of the dangerous d3–bishop. 11…Nxe5 12.Bh6! Ng6 13.h4 gxh6 14.h5 Nc6 15.hxg6 fxg6 16.Bxg6 Rf6! 17.Be8+ Kf8 18.Bxc6 bxc6 19.Rh4 “White intends Rg4 with an ongoing attack” (Negi).

12.h4 dxc3


12…Nc5 13.h5 Nxd3+ 14.cxd3 dxc3 15.hxg6 fxg6 16.Qh4 h6 17.Nf4 White has a winning attack;

12…Ngxe5 13.Bh6 g6 14.Bxf8 Nxf8 15.h5 White has an extra exchange and the initiative to boot (Negi).

13.f4 h5!

Since White has sufficiently fortified his e5–pawn Black must prevent h4–h5 by any means. 13…f6 14.exf6 Nxf6 15.h5 Nh8 16.h6 g6 17.Qh4 Nd7 18.Be7 Re8 19.Bb4 Qd8 20.Qg3 There is no solution in sight for the h8–knight, and the bishop will soon become a lot more powerful from c3 (Negi).


The queen moves away from g3 to make way for the pawn on g2. g4 is a big threat now. IM John Watson: “White’s coming attack is dangerous, and he even has the better of it when the queens are exchanged. But you have to do a thorough analysis to understand this!”

14…Qb6 15.Nd4 Nc5!?

Now this is Ganguly’s idea. Negi only took up 15…Nb8 with the idea of …Nc6 to put pressure on the d4–knight. There is a long analysis after this but in the end the conclusion is that White has the better chances in the ensuing endgame.

16.g4 Nxd3+ 17.Qxd3 Bd7!

A really deep move. This clears the way for the a8–rook to come to e8. Why would it want to go to e8? You will see later on.

18.gxh5 <D>


It looks like Black is being overrun but he has a way out …

18…f6! 19.exf6

Best. Other moves don’t work.

19.hxg6 fxg5 20.hxg5 Rxf4 21.Qh3 Re4+ 22.Ne2 Kf8 23.Qh8+ (23.Rf1+ Ke7 24.Rf7+ Kd8 everything is still complicated) 23…Ke7 24.Qxg7+ Kd8 25.Qf8+ Kc7 26.g7 Rxe5 27.g8Q Qe3 and, shockingly, Black is the one who wins;

19.Qxg6 Qxd4 20.exf6 Qe3+ 21.Kf1 Qf3+ 22.Kg1 Qg3+ 23.Kf1 Bb5+ wins. Another reason why the bishop had to go to d7.


Unbelievable move and the point of Black’s defense.

20.Bxf4 e5!

Now you see why Black wants his a8–rook to go to e5.


A mistake, but Lagno couldn’t believe that she is not winning. After 21.Bxe5 Rae8! 22.0–0 Rxe5 Black is at the very least equal.

21…Qxd4 22.Qxd4 exd4 23.0–0–0 gxf6 24.Bf4 Bf5 25.Rxd4 Be4

After all those complications Ganguly emerges a pawn up in a superior endgame, and he plays efficiently to convert.

26.Rg1+ Kh7 27.Rg3 Rac8 28.Rd1 Rg8 29.Rdg1 Rxg3 30.Rxg3 d4 31.h6 Re8 32.Rg7+ Kh8 33.Rd7 Bd5! 34.Kb1 Re1+ 35.Bc1 Ba2+ 36.Kxa2 Rxc1 37.Rxd4 Rxc2+ 38.Kb3 Rd2 39.Rc4 c2 40.Kb2 Rd6 41.Rxc2 Rb6+ 42.Ka2 Kh7 43.Rc5 Kxh6 44.a4 Rb4 45.Ka3 Rxh4 46.Rc7 Rh3+ 47.Kb2 Kg6 48.Rxb7 Rh7 49.Rb8 Rc7 50.Kb3 f5 51.a5 f4 52.Kb4 f3 53.Rg8+ Kf5 54.Rf8+ Ke4 0–1

GM Ivan Cheparinov (born Nov. 26, 1986 in Bulgaria but now representing Georgia), was in the leading group for much of the event but the following game cost him dearly.

Amin, Bassem (2707) — Cheparinov, Ivan (2666) [C55]
Hunan Belt and Road Open (8.3), 05.08.2019

Egypt’s GM Bassem Amin (born Sept. 9, 1988) is the only African player who is rated 2700+. He is one of the very few GMs in the world who is a medical physician. Offhand I can think of only three others: Alex Sherzer (USA), Daniel Fridman (GER) and Wong Meng Kong (Singapore).

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3

You’d think that most people would go for 4.Ng5 and the fun lines which come with it, but FUN FACT: in Megabase, which is supposed to contain the majority of all tournament games ever played, 4.d3 outnumbers 4.Ng5 by a 6:1 ratio.

4…h6 5.0–0 d6 6.c3 g5

A surprise move. However, if you think about it, in the Italian Game (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5) the incidence of …g7–g5 is going up, so why not in this similar position?

7.Bb3 Bg7 8.Nbd2 a6 9.Nc4 Be6 10.Re1 g4 11.Nfd2 Qd7 12.a4 h5 13.a5 h4

Threatening the standard 14…g3 15.fxg3 hxg3 16.h3 0–0–0 17.Qf3 Nh5 18.Nf1 d5 which, no matter how hackneyed, is quite strong. White needs to bolster his defenses.

14.Nf1 0–0–0 15.Ba4 g3 16.fxg3 h3 17.gxh3 Rxh3

Black has mistimed his pawn advance and White’s defensive line is quite solid. It is now the first player’s turn to go on the attack.

18.b4 Qe7 19.Nce3 d5?

Opens himself up for White’s two bishops. He should have played something like 19…Bh6 and exchange itself for the knight — anyway his bishop is not doing anything.

20.Ba3! Qe8 21.b5 axb5 22.Bxb5 dxe4 23.a6 b6 24.Qa4 Bd7 25.Nf5 Bxf5 26.a7 Kb7 27.Be7!! Bd7

[27…Ra8 28.Qa6#]

28.Bxd8 1–0


Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and its first Executive Director. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), he taught accounting in the University of Santo Tomas for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.