Hunan International Open

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Bobby Ang

Chess Piece

Hunan Belt and Road International Open
Hunan, China
July 29-Aug. 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, 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 was held in Tongguanyao town, Changsha city, Hunan Province, China, from July 29-Aug. 6 this year.

A side note: The “Belt and Road Initiative” is the plan of China to recreate the Silk Road, a network of trade routes which connected the East and West and ran through China from the 2nd century BC to the 18th century. “Belt” refers to the overland routes for road and rail transportation, and “road” refers to the sea routes.

The tournament was notable for the huge prizes, most especially USD$50,000 for 1st place, roughly P2.6 million. This is why so many 2700+ GMs made the trip to Hunan in Central China to compete. The top 6 seeds were:

Wei Yi CHN 2737

Yu Yangyi CHN 2736

Wang Hao CHN 2725

Le Quang Liem VIE 2713

Bassem Amin EGY 2707

Maxim Matlakov RUS 2701

In the end it was the 15th-seeded Indian GM Surya Shekhar Ganguly (2638) who came through with an undefeated 5-win, 4-draw performance for 7.5/9 and solo 1st place. Second prize of USD$25,000 (P1.3 million) went to Yu Yangyi while the Egyptian Bassem Amin came through with a strong showing and earned USD$15,000 (around P780,000) 3rd prize.

Ganguly is principally known as the longtime second of former world champion Vishy Anand, especially during his title matches with Kramnik (2008), Topalov (2010) and Gelfand (2012), but is a very strong player in his own right. Born Feb. 24, 1983 in Kolkata he is a six-time champion of India and won the Asian Continental Champion in 2009 held in the Subic Exhibition and Convention Center in Subic Bay, Olongapo City. He tied for 1st again in the 2015 Asian Championship with Salem A.R. Saleh, but the UAE player got the title on tie breaks.

In Hunan Ganguly was always among the leaders but his 5th round defeat of Wei Yi allowed him to tie for the lead and a 2-win 2-draw finish was enough for him to finish ahead of the chasing pack.

Ganguly, Surya Shekhar (2638) — Wei, Yi (2737) [A33]
Hunan Belt and Road Open 2019 Hunan (5.2), 02.08.2019

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 c5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 e6 6.g3 Qb6 7.Ndb5

Ganguly is known to favor this line so the opening could not have been a surprise for Wei Yi.


The main move. 7…Bc5 is known to be bad, not because of 8.Nd6+ Ke7 9.Nde4 Nxe4 10.Nxe4 Bb4+ when Black has chances, but because of 8.Bg2! Bxf2+ 9.Kf1 Ng4 10.Qd6! when White is clearly better (Andrzej Lipinski-Wladyslaw Schinzel Poland 1978). Nc7+ is threatened and after 10…Kd8 11.Qf4 Nce5 (11…h5? 12.Qxf7 Be3 13.b4! Bxc1 14.c5 Qa6 15.Qxg7 Re8 16.Rxc1 White is clearly winning) 12.Na4! (12.Bf3 right away is met by 12…Be3) 12…Qa5 13.Bf3 Black cannot disentangle.

8.Bg2 a6

Black should not take the c4 pawn: 8…Nxc4 9.b3 Ne5 (9…a6 10.bxc4 axb5 11.Nxb5 d5 12.0 — 0 Bc5 13.Rb1 Black has got to be careful here) 10.Be3 Qa5 11.0 — 0 Bb4 12.Nd6+ Ke7 (12…Bxd6 13.Qxd6 Qxc3 14.Bd4 White is clearly better) 13.Nce4 Nd5 (13…Nxe4 14.Nxe4 Kf8 15.a3 Be7 16.b4 Qc7 17.Rc1 Black’s position is not easy to play) 14.Bd4 f6 15.a3 Bxd6 16.Nxd6 Nf7 (16…Kxd6? 17.e4 wins) 17.Nc4 Qa6 1 — 0 Kazakov, K. (2302)-Kozganbayev, E. (2249) Kostanay 2012.


GM Evgeniy Agrest (Sweden) introduced 9.Na3 during the 2002 championship of Sweden in Skara and it is now considered to be White’s best chance for retaining the initiative. After 9…Bxa3 10.bxa3 Nxc4 11.0 — 0! (White will play Bg5 only after Black castles) 11…0 — 0 12.Bg5! d5 13.Rc1 Nxa3 14.e4 d4 15.e5 Nd7 16.Ne4 Nxe5 17.Nf6+ gxf6 18.Bxf6 Ng6 19.Qh5 White threatens, of course, Qh5 — h6 — g7 mate. Black counted on 19…e5 but did not reckon on 20.Rc6! and now he can resign. Howell, D. (2685)-Jumabayev, R. (2607) Tallinn 2016 1 — 0 27.


In annotating a game from the 2016 Baku Olympiad GM Mihail Marin remarked that 9.Qa4 is long known for not offering much because of 9…Rb8 10.Be3 Bc5 11.Bxc5 Qxc5 12.Qa3 b6 13.Nd6+ Ke7 14.Qxc5 bxc5 15.Nxc8+ Rhxc8 16.b3 d5! 17.cxd5 c4! (trying to open the c-file for his rook) 18.b4 Rxb4 Black is doing well. Timman, J. (2630) — Alterman, B. (2595) European Team Championship 1997 0 — 1 33. Wei Yi probably knew this but did not expect Ganguly’s next move.


Opening preparation. Maybe Wei Yi expected the usual 10.0 — 0 when he intended to continue 10…Nxc4 11.Qxc4 axb5 12.Qxb5 Qxb5 13.Nxb5 0 — 0 when White is a bit more comfortable but Black should be able to hold.


Obviously surprised, Wei Yi took 21 minutes before playing this. Other moves don’t work:

10…d6 11.Nxd6+;

10…Nxc4 11.Nc7+;

10…Nfg4 11.h3 Bxf2+ (11…Nxf2 12.Bxe5 Nxh1 13.Nc7+ wins for White) 12.Kf1 is the same as what actually occurs in the game.

11.Kf1 <D>


At first glance White is trying to weather a strong attack but on closer look Black is in dire straits — he does not have any direct threats and White is threatening to capture the knight on e5. If he moves the knight then that clears the way for Nc7+]


[11…Bd4? 12.c5! unveils a double attack on the d4 bishop]

12.h3 g5

What do do?

12…Ne3+ 13.Kxf2 Nd1+ 14.Ke1 Nxb2 15.Qb3 Nbxc4 16.Na3 Qxb3 17.axb3 Nxa3 18.Rxa3 f6 19.Na4 Rb8 (19…b5?? 20.Bxa8) 20.Nb6 (threat is Ra3 — a2 — c2) 20…d5 21.Bxe5 fxe5 22.e4 d4 23.Ra5 Black is lost;

12…Bg1 13.c5! as in the game

13.Bxg5 Bxg3 14.c5!

It is important to lure the black queen to c5 so that Ne4 later on will attack the queen. Not 14.Ne4? right away because 14…Ne3+ White cannot play Kg1.

14…Qxc5 15.Ne4 Qg1+

Now we see why White had to preface his Ne4 with c4 — c5, because now 15…Ne3+ 16.Kg1 there is no good discovered check for Black as then White will simply capture the queen.

16.Kxg1 1 — 0

Not 16.Rxg1?? Nh2#

Former Russian (2001) and European (2014) Champion GM Alexander Motylev did not do so well. He got the wind completely knocked out of his sails by this loss:

Zeng, Chongsheng (2551) — Motylev, Alexander (2654) [C59]
Hunan Belt and Road Open 2019 Hunan (6.8), 03.08.2019

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

The Two Knights’ Defense! Not so commonly seen nowadays.

4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5 6.Bb5+ c6 7.dxc6 bxc6 8.Be2 h6 9.Nh3

This old move of Steinitz, considered an eccentricity, became popular when Bobby Fischer used it to defeat GM Arthur Bisguier in 1963 Poughkeepsie.

9…Bc5 10.d3 0 — 0 11.Nc3 Nb7 12.0 — 0 Bxh3 13.gxh3 Qd7 14.Bg4 Nxg4 15.hxg4 f5 16.gxf5 Rxf5 17.Ne4 Raf8 18.Qe2 Rf3

Black only needs to make one more move and he is completely winning. After 19…Qh3 his threat of …Rf8 — f5 is deadly. 20.Ng3 does not work because of 20…Rxg3+ 21.hxg3 Qxg3+ 22.Kh1 Qh3+ 23.Kg1 Nd6 followed by Nd6 — f5 — h4.

19.Kh1! Qh3 20.Nxc5 Nxc5

[20…R8f5!? does not work because of 21.Nxb7 Rh5 White can force a draw with 22.Bf4! exf4 (22…Rxf4? 23.f3 with the mate protected White will win) 23.Qe8+ Kh7 24.Qe4+ Kg8 25.Qe8+ draw]

21.Be3 R8f5 22.Rg1

Of course not 22.Bxc5? Rh5.

22…Rh5 23.Rg2 Ne6 24.Rag1 Kh8 25.Bd2 Nd4! 26.Qe4 Rf7!

With the idea of …Nf3.

27.Bf4 Rxf4??

Correct is 27…Rh4

28.Qh7+! Horrified, Motylev realizes that 28.Qh7+ Kxh7 29.Rxg7+ Kh8 30.Rg8+ Kh7 31.R1g7# is mate and so he resigns. 1 — 0

A lot of bloodthirsty chess was played in Hunan. I will show you some more on Thursday.


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 (UST) for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.