IMSA Elite Mind Games: Speed Chess In China

IMSA Elite Mind Games: Speed Chess In China

The IMSA Elite Mind Games were held from February 25th to March 3th in Huai'an, China. Like in previous years the players battled in blitz, rapid and the Basque system, playing two games at the same time against one opponent.

Huai'an is a city of close to 5 million inhabitants in central Jiangsu province of Eastern China. Its history goes a long way: the earliest settlers lived there 5000 to 6000 years ago.

This year it was the location of the annual Mind Games. The tournament was hosted by IMSA organization and the Sports management center of Chinese Sports General Administration and organized by the Jiangsu Sports Bureau and the Huai'an government.

A total of 143 players and 77 technical officers from 43 countries participated in varieties of board games including bridge, go, chess, Chinese chess and draughts. In total there were 23 individual events divided into five categories.

Furthermore, another solitaire game called "Guan dan", which originated from the Huai'an province, was played for the first time as a demonstration game.

The Mind Games chess event is always a bit of an odd tournament in the calendar for its irregular formats and somewhat unclear status. But we get to see lots of strong players playing chess, and that might be enough, right?

Vassily Ivanchuk always provides good entertainment! | Photo courtesy of FIDE.

This year except for local hero Ding Liren no top 10 players participated and that's easily explained with the Candidates’ Tournament just around the corner. Especially Levon Aronian, who loves China, must have been disappointed about the scheduling of this event.

However, lots of strong players just below that top 10 were there, such as Pentala Harikrishna, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Evgeny Tomashevsky.

The chess part started with a regular rapid tournament played over seven rounds, paired according to the Swiss system. The rate of play was 20 minutes plus 10 seconds increment.

Two players finished on five points: Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan. The players played just one Armageddon game to decided matters. Mamedyarov won the toss, chose white (with 5 minutes vs 4 for Black) and won a great fight:

The decisive Armageddon game. | Photo courtesy of FIDE.

2016 IMSA Elite Mind Games | Men Rapid Final Standings

Rank SNo. Title Name Rtg FED Pts. Res. ratP RtgØ
1 7 GM Mamedyarov 2771 AZE 5 ½ 2880 2722
2 15 GM Ponomariov 2672 UKR 5 ½ 2880 2722
3 14 GM Dominguez 2775 CUB ½ 2840 2738
4 9 GM Wang Hao 2752 CHN ½ 2806 2704
5 13 GM Ding Liren 2686 CHN 4 0 2776 2726
6 10 GM Li Chao 2620 CHN 4 0 2769 2719
7 1 GM Harikrishna 2694 IND 4 0 2754 2704
8 5 GM Wojtaszek 2722 POL 0 2718 2718
9 8 GM Mamedov 2655 AZE 0 2701 2701
10 2 GM Sargissian 2667 ARM 0 2696 2696
11 4 GM Navara 2738 CZE 3 0 2688 2738
12 16 GM Wang Yue 2758 CHN 3 0 2677 2727
13 11 GM Tomashevsky 2719 RUS 3 0 2674 2724
14 6 GM Ivanchuk 2844 UKR 2 1 2565 2723
15 12 GM Fressinet 2723 FRA 2 0 2578 2736
16 3 GM Movsesian 2725 ARM 0 2493 2723

For the women the situation was different: lots of top players participated. Some of them had traveled to China right after their participation in the Tehran Women's Grand Prix.

However, it was not one of these top players who topped the rapid rankings. WGM Tan Zhonyi was in fantastic shape, started with 5.0/5, then lost to Kateryna Lagno of Russia but finished with another win against Anna Ushenina of Ukraine. The Chinese lady ended 1.5 points ahead of the pack.

Here's how she beat Valentina Gunina of Russia:

2016 IMSA Elite Mind Games | Women Rapid Final Standings

Rank SNo. Title Name Rtg FED Pts. Res. ratP RtgØ
1 4 WGM Tan Zhongyi 2450 CHN 6 0 2807 2498
2 14 GM Khotenashvili 2444 GEO 2609 2507
3 3 GM Ju Wenjun 2532 CHN 2594 2492
4 6 GM Lagno 2593 RUS 0 2592 2490
5 15 GM Stefanova 2563 BUL 4 0 2569 2519
6 7 GM Krush 2444 USA 0 2552 2487
7 1 GM Dzagnidze 2560 GEO 0 2503 2503
8 2 IM Paehtz 2482 GER 0 2485 2485
9 5 GM Zhao Xue 2506 CHN 0 2479 2479
10 9 GM Ushenina 2502 UKR 0 2477 2477
11 12 WGM Huang Qian 2443 CHN 3 1 2454 2504
12 16 GM Kosteniuk 2543 RUS 3 0 2420 2470
13 13 GM Gunina 2464 RUS 0 2403 2505
14 8 GM Harika 2478 IND 0 2383 2485
15 11 GM Socko 2441 POL 0 2329 2511
16 10 IM Mkrtchian 2459 ARM 0 2260 2490

A great result for WGM Tan Zhonyi. | Photo courtesy of FIDE.

The blitz tournament (3 minutes + 2 second, 30 rounds) was another success for Azerbaijan: this one was won by Rauf Mamedov, who scored 19.5/30. It's a result that might seem surprising for a player who is not in the top 100 of the classical rating list. However, Mamedov is currently the world #10(!) in the blitz ratings; a true specialist.

Against Cuban GM Leinier Dominguez he won an all-or-nothing game as Black:

Mamedov's White game against David Navara saw a remarkable opening phase:

Rauf Mamedov (l.) in his game with Ding Liren. | Photo courtesy of FIDE.

2016 IMSA Elite Mind Games | Men Blitz Final Standings

Rank SNo. Title Name Rtg FED Pts. Res. SB Vict
1 11 GM Mamedov 2810 AZE 19½ 0 275.25 15
2 8 GM Tomashevsky 2733 RUS 18½ 0 267.25 11
3 15 GM Harikrishna 2661 IND 18 263.75 12
4 7 GM Dominguez 2743 CUB 18 260.25 12
5 2 GM Wang Hao 2744 CHN 18 0 261.75 14
6 5 GM Ding Liren 2688 CHN 17½ 0 241.00 14
7 4 GM Navara 2739 CZE 16½ 0 232.00 13
8 10 GM Ivanchuk 2811 UKR 16 0 232.75 13
9 6 GM Mamedyarov 2748 AZE 14½ 0 213.75 8
10 9 GM Wang Yue 2694 CHN 13 0 183.00 9
11 12 GM Ponomariov 2730 UKR 12½ 175.25 10
12 3 GM Sargissian 2743 ARM 12½ 2 190.50 6
13 14 GM Wojtaszek 2674 POL 12½ 192.25 7
14 13 GM Movsesian 2662 ARM 11½ 0 160.25 7
15 16 GM Li Chao 2651 CHN 11 0 157.00 7
16 1 GM Fressinet 2713 FRA 10½ 0 153.50 5

In the women section it was Lagno who finished sole first with 21.5/30, half a point more than her compatriot Valentina Gunina. Lagno is an 1.e4 player and it's impressive how she deals with sidelines like in the following game.

Kateryna Lagno clinched the gold medal in the blitz. | Photo courtesy of FIDE.

2016 IMSA Elite Mind Games | Women Blitz Final Standings

Rank SNo. Title Name Rtg FED Pts. Res. SB Vict
1 7 GM Lagno 2594 RUS 21½ 0 308.75 18
2 13 GM Gunina 2598 RUS 20 0 285.00 18
3 1 GM Stefanova 2518 BUL 19½ 0 267.25 15
4 4 GM Kosteniuk 2485 RUS 19 0 275.75 17
5 16 GM Ju Wenjun 2535 CHN 17½ 1 240.25 14
6 8 WGM Tan Zhongyi 2524 CHN 17½ 1 236.75 14
7 5 GM Zhao Xue 2552 CHN 15½ 0 205.50 14
8 10 GM Ushenina 2472 UKR 14½ 195.25 13
9 14 GM Dzagnidze 2581 GEO 14½ ½ 212.25 11
10 3 GM Krush 2400 USA 14 0 202.25 11
11 12 GM Harika 2554 IND 13½ 0 188.00 9
12 6 IM Paehtz 2483 GER 12½ 0 179.00 10
13 2 GM Socko 2375 POL 12 0 179.25 11
14 15 GM Khotenashvili 2430 GEO 10 0 133.75 6
15 9 IM Mkrtchian 2405 ARM 0 134.50 6
16 11 WGM Huang Qian 2455 CHN 9 0 130.00 7

It's interesting to see that the Chinese organizers maintain the third section: the Basque System, where players play two games at the same time against one opponent. It hasn't really caught up at other events, but the Chinese apparently quite like it.

Like the rapid, this was a Swiss event but only five rounds of double games. Also here the rate of play was 20 minutes plus 10 seconds increment.

Here, finally the strongest player of classical chess emerged victoriously. It was Ding Liren who won the tournament with 7.0/10, a point more than four grandmasters. In the first round he refuted Vassily Ivanchuk's 28.d4 nicely.

Ding impressively defeated Tomashevsky 2-0. Here's his black game:

Tomashevsky vs Ding Liren over two boards. | Photo courtesy of FIDE.

2016 IMSA Elite Mind Games | Men Basque Final Standings

Rank SNo. Title Name Rtg FED Pts. Res. ratP RtgØ
1 2 GM Ding Liren 2686 CHN 7 0 2905 2756
2 5 GM Navara 2738 CZE 6 0 2809 2737
3 1 GM Ponomariov 2672 UKR 6 0 2782 2710
4 14 GM Tomashevsky 2719 RUS 6 0 2780 2708
5 11 GM Mamedyarov 2771 AZE 6 0 2779 2707
6 16 GM Wojtaszek 2722 POL 0 2794 2758
7 8 GM Wang Yue 2758 CHN 0 2783 2747
8 12 GM Harikrishna 2694 IND 0 2768 2732
9 10 GM Ivanchuk 2844 UKR 0 2741 2705
10 7 GM Fressinet 2723 FRA 0 2714 2750
11 3 GM Sargissian 2667 ARM 0 2673 2709
12 15 GM Dominguez 2775 CUB 0 2645 2681
13 6 GM Wang Hao 2752 CHN 4 0 2634 2706
14 4 GM Movsesian 2725 ARM 2581 2691
15 9 GM Li Chao 2620 CHN ½ 2603 2713
16 13 GM Mamedov 2655 AZE 0 2517 2710

Also in the women's section one of the favorites took the gold medal: Alexandra Kosteniuk. She reached 7.0/10 as well, half a point more than Nana Dzagnidze. Their mutual match was won 1.5-0.5 by Kosteniuk, who won her black game:

Alexandra Kosteniuk won the gold medal. | Photo courtesy of FIDE.

2016 IMSA Elite Mind Games | Women Basque Final Standings

Rank SNo. Title Name Rtg FED Pts. Res. ratP RtgØ
1 7 GM Kosteniuk 2543 RUS 7 0 2644 2495
2 12 GM Dzagnidze 2560 GEO 0 2588 2478
3 4 GM Gunina 2464 RUS 6 0 2620 2478
4 1 WGM Huang Qian 2443 CHN 0 2542 2506
5 15 IM Mkrtchian 2459 ARM 0 2539 2503
6 10 GM Lagno 2593 RUS 0 2504 2468
7 13 GM Stefanova 2563 BUL 0 2500 2464
8 8 GM Zhao Xue 2506 CHN 5 0 2520 2520
9 6 GM Khotenashvili 2444 GEO 5 0 2499 2499
10 14 GM Ju Wenjun 2532 CHN 5 0 2498 2498
11 11 GM Harika 2478 IND 5 0 2486 2486
12 9 WGM Tan Zhongyi 2450 CHN 5 0 2474 2474
13 5 GM Krush 2444 USA 0 2502 2538
14 3 IM Paehtz 2482 GER 1 2399 2509
15 16 GM Ushenina 2502 UKR 1 2391 2501
16 2 GM Socko 2441 POL 2 0 2247 2487
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