Today’s 3rd round started with a bang as the opening move on the top board was made by none other than football legend Xavi Hernandez. Xavi won the World Cup with Spain in 2010 and holds a total of 28 trophies, more than any other Spanish player in history. He is also known for having been the strategic mastermind in both the Barcelona and Spain teams and it is therefore fitting to welcome him at a chess tournament, although he did try to open the game with 1.Ke3, before eventually settling for 1.e3.
After playing for football giants FC Barcelona from 1997 to 2015, Xavi joined the Qatari club "Al Sadd" this summer. When asked about his life in Qatar, the Spanish replied ‘I couldn’t be happier. I am overwhelmed with the hospitality I received since I arrived to Qatar. People are warm and it has been a great experience so far.’ In more good news, beIN Sports (one of the biggest sports channels worldwide) covered today’s round and conducted an hour-long interview with Tournament Director Mohamed Al-Modiahki, thus further strengthening the link between chess and sports.
But let’s come back to today’s chess action. After only three rounds, the leadership has been narrowed down to only two players: Anish Giri and Li Chao.
The Dutch wunderkind played a model game, exerting constant pressure on Radoslaw Wojtaszek in an endgame where Giri was only slightly better, until his opponent eventually cracked and resigned on move 60.
The board 3 encounter between Sethuraman and Li Chao didn’t even last for half as many moves, as the Chinese played a powerful game to force his opponent to resign in only 26 moves.
After the game Li Chao admitted that in case of 5.Nf3 e4, he had forgotten everything. However, after his opponent played 5.d5 he thought it was not a big problem, and by move 7 he was already playing for more than a draw.
On boards two and four the match-ups Howell-So and Yu-Swiercz respectfully both ended in rather balanced draws, but on the fifth table World Champion Magnus Carlsen treated the fans to an impressive display of his strength, as he inflicted a convincing loss on Daniil Yuffa.
Vladimir Kramnik had to concede another half point, but it could have been more. At some point the 14th World Champion was three pawns down against Daniele Vocaturo but still held the draw:
However, the highlight of today’s round was doubtlessly the encounter between Mamedyarov and Lenderman. The Azeri number one showed everyone why he has the reputation of being one of the most creative and aggressive players on the tour, as he sacrificed for a beautiful mating attack which his opponent was gracious enough to let him execute on the board.
Here are the winner’s thoughts on the game.
The round ended with a most dramatic moment. Harika Dronavalli was about to draw her game with Ni Hua, until she suddenly missed a mate in one:
In tomorrow’s 4th round Li Chao will have the white pieces in his clash against co-leader Anish Giri, while Magnus Carlsen is back up to board 2, where he will face Polish talent World Junior Vice-champion Jan-Krzysztof Duda.
|15||30||GM||Ganguly, Surya Shekhar||IND||2648||2,5||2694||3||4|
|20||102||IM||Vignesh, N R||IND||2422||2||2761||3||4|
For the full standings and pairings please visit this page
Report by Fiona Steil-Antoni and Peter Doggers