Leinier Dominguez and Vladimir Fedoseev were the early leaders as the International Mind Sports Association World Masters began in Hengshui, China on Tuesday. Gata Kamsky and Jovanka Houska will commentate live on five days of rapid and blitz chess, with 16 player fields for both the open and women’s sections. Mariya Muzychuk, Valentina Gunina, Nana Dzagnidze and Zhansaya Abdumalik were the fastest starters in the women’s event.
Hengshui, 300 km South of Beijing, is the venue for the inaugural IMSA World Masters:
The event is a continuation of the earlier IMSA Elite Mind Games events that featured parallel tournaments in bridge, chess, draughts, Go and Xiangqi (Chinese chess), with a total of 170 players from 36 countries competing across 17 different disciplines. For chess this year that means rapid and blitz, since the experiment with Basque chess (two players playing two games at the same time) has been discontinued. The prize fund for each tournament is 75,000 euro, with 18,000 for 1st place, in the open section, and 50,000 and 12,000 for the women.
The chess tournament features 16 players in each section, and while all the players are household names the level is a little lower than in previous events. In 2017, for instance, we had the world nos 3 (Mamedyarov), 10 (Ding Liren) and 11 (Alexander Grischuk), while this year the highest classically rated players are no. 17 Leinier Dominguez and no. 19 Yu Yangyi. The explanation is simple – the incredibly packed chess schedule this year made the event impossible for all those playing either in the Abidjan Grand Chess Tour or the FIDE Grand Prix (starting Friday). It also excludes a player who has a semi-professional interest in draughts – Vassily Ivanchuk!
The eccentric Ukrainian has almost always played in the IMSA event, but this year found himself in Havana, Cuba instead for the Capablanca Memorial. The 50-year-old didn’t let his fans down, since a last-round win over Adhiban gave him an 8th title! (you can replay all the games here) .
Sam Sevian and David Anton finished half a point back, with Anton coming incredibly close – if he’d converted an extra pawn in the final game he would have taken the title with better tiebreaks.
Chucky will be missed, but the spectator experience has been improved this year with some top notch English commentary from US Grandmaster Gata Kamsky and English IM Jovanka Houska – there are far worse ways you could spend your mornings (games start at 14:00 local time, or 8:00 CEST):
All the games are being broadcast live, with the first three days consisting of 11 rounds of rapid chess at a time control of 15 minutes for all moves with a 10-second increment from move 1. You can watch and replay all the open section games using the selector below:
leaders after the first day were Leinier Dominguez and Vladimir Fedoseev, who
both scored 3/4. Dominguez is one of the men of the moment, as after two years
without classical events he’s come back with a new hunger and climbed to world
no. 12 on the live rating list after top performances in the US Championship
and the Russian Team Championship.
did play speed chess during that hiatus, and seems to have forgotten nothing,
even if he needed to turn most of his games around at some point on the first
day. For instance, it looked as though Boris Gelfand was the player chasing away his
opponent’s rook on c7 here...
But after 16…Ncb4! it was Dominguez who took over!
Vladimir Fedoseev shot to prominence in 2017 but has failed to build on that since and has currently slumped to a 2680 rating. He looked on top form in Hengshui, however, winning a bold attacking game against Bu Xiangzhi, a nice technical endgame against Vidit and missing out on more in the first game against top seed Wang Hao:
If Black can swap off the heavy pieces the b-pawn will win the day, and 52…Rd5! would have left Black with an overwhelming position, but 52…b3? allowed Wang Hao to go for his one chance of counterplay with 53.h5! Black might still have won after 53…Rc8, but the safer 53…Qg4+ soon led to a picturesque pawn structure – seldom have two extra pawns been less significant!
The lowest rapid rated player (2622) in the field is Gawain Jones, though after his TePe Sigeman Chess triumph the English grandmaster is now up to 2709.2 on the classical rating list and fully deserving of a chance to play in this kind of event. He drew two with Black and lost two with the white pieces, but he gains bonus points for tweeting from China!
One position that deserves a mention is from the heavyweight
You don’t expect as solid a player as Dmitry Andreikin to go for a speculative sac, so it’s likely he missed something big we he played 21.Ng5!?? Gelfand thought for as long as John Cage’s most famous piece of music before doing everything correctly: 21…b3!! (23…hxg5 first is also good) 22.axb3 hxg5 23.hxg5 Bxb2! 24.Kxb2 Rxb3+ 25.Kxb3 Qb4+ 26.Ka2:
Gata Kamsky, analysing without a computer, thought the plan of this whole line was 26…d5!, with the devastating threat of 27...Ra6#, but Gelfand took just 7 seconds to play the 2nd best move in the position: 26…Re2? The favour was returned, however, since instead of the winning 27.Qc1! (the king can hide from checks behind the queen on b2) Andreikin went for 27.Qf5?, when Boris forced perpetual check.
The standings after Day 1 looked as follows:
In the women’s section, meanwhile, there are four leaders, including the youngest player in the tournament, 19-year-old Zhansaya Abdumalik. The Kazakhstan player beat Irina Krush and Tan Zhongyi and drew with Humpy Koneru and Mariya Muzychuk.
You can replay all the games below:
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