Home ACHIEVERS Tan Zhongyi and D Gukesh- Two challengers of 2024 World Championship are...

Tan Zhongyi and D Gukesh- Two challengers of 2024 World Championship are birthday twins

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In our series World Champion Born On This Day, we shall see the life and career of a the two challengers of this year’s World Championship- China’s Tan Zhongyi and India’s D Gukesh.

Tan Zhongyi- World Youth Champion

Tan Zhongyi was born on 29th May, 1991 in Chongqing. In 1997, she started learning to play chess. She won the World Youth U10 Girls Chess Championship twice, in 2000 and 2001. In 2002, she won the World Youth U12 Girls’ Chess Championship.

Tan graduated from the School of Law of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in 2009. In 2011, Zhongyi won the Women’s Chess tournament at the 2011 Summer Universiade in Shenzhen, contributing to China’s team gold medal.

Late in 2012, Tan won the Women’s World University Chess Championship of 2012 in Portugal. In 2014 she became the Asian Women’s Blitz Champion in Sharjah.

The World Chess Champion

In May 2015 Tan won the Chinese Women’s Chess Championship in Xinghua. The following month, she became the 5th China Women Masters with 7/9, a full point ahead of second-placed Lei Tingjie.

Three months later, Tan won the Asian Women’s Rapid in UAE. On December 1, 2015, Zhongyi won the 1st China Chess Queen Match, a knockout tournament held in Zhejiang after defeating Ju Wenjun in the final in an Armageddon game.

In the year 2016, Tan won the gold medal on board 4 at the 42nd Women’s Chess Olympiad. She then reached the final of the Women’s World Chess Knockout Championship and became the World Women’s Champion by defeating GM Anna Muzychuk in the last match.

She won the World Championship in 2017 but could not defend it the next year.  In 2018, she lost the crown to Ju wenjun, who still reigns the Women’s Chess.

Immediately after losing her crown, Tan Zhongyi concentrated on coaching talented youngsters from China. Simultaneously, she continued to play successfully.

Tan made a great comeback in classical Chess this year by winning the World Women’s Candidates Championship held at Toronto with a difference of 1.5 points from the first runner-Up, Koneru Humpy of India. Thus, Tan has qualified to play the match for the World Women’s Chess crown.

D Gukesh

Incidentally, the challenger in the World Chess Championship 2024, open section, is also celebrating his birthday today It is none other than Dommaraju Gukesh of Chennai, who turns 18 today.

Gukesh will play the match for the world crown against the reigning world champion Ding Liren and I hope to write a story on Gukesh in our series after exactly one year,

Analysis of one of Tan’s Matches

Today we shall see a game by Tan Zhongyi from the World Championship Candidates Tournament, Toronto, April 2024. There are a lot of mistakes by both sides, perhaps because of the importance of the tournament and the high stakes.

Tan Zhongyi (2521) – Anna Muzychuk (2520) [D05]

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 e6 4.Bd3 c5 5.b3

A quiet system aimed at middle game play rather than opening advantage.

5…Nc6 6.0–0 b6 7.Bb2 Bb7 8.Nbd2 Rc8 9.a3 Be7

9…Bd6 10.Ne5 0–0 11.Qe1 Ne7 looks like a better arrangement of pieces.

10.Ne5 cxd4 11.exd4 Nxe5?

Black will now suffer from the King side weakness, caused due to absence of  .…Nf6.

12.dxe5 Nd7 13.Qg4 g6?

13…0–0 was better, though after 14.b4! White stands much better.

14.b4! (It is important to prevent ….Nd7–c5 as long as possible.)

14…a5 15.Nf3 0–0 16.Rae1 axb4 17.axb4 Ra8

Anna Muzychuk

Tan Zhongyi

How to make progress now? Where to attack?

18.h4!! Ra4 19.h5! Rxb4

Anna Muzychuk

Tan Zhongyi

Another crucial moment in the game.

20.Nd4!!

The whole point of the sacrifice is the decisive attack against the weak ‘g6’ point! A Pawn sacrifice followed up with a Bishop sacrifice! The Bb2 is not so important here due to unsafe position of Black King. 

20…g5

20…Rxb2? loses to 21.hxg6 hxg6 22.Bxg6 Bg5 23.Qh5 fxg6 24.Qxg6+ Kh8 25.Qh5+ Kg8 26.Nxe6 Qe7 27.Qg6+ Kh8 28.Nxg5 d4 29.e6! Bd5 30.Qh6+ Kg8 31.exd7 Qxd7 32.Ne6 when White wins easily.

21.Bc3 Ra4 22.f4! Qc8

22…h6? loses to 23.Nxe6 Bc5+ 24.Kh2.

23.Bb2! Nc5

23…Rb4was impossible due to 24.fxg5 Rxb2 25.Bxh7+ Kxh7 26.g6+ fxg6 27.Qxg6+ Kh8 28.Qh6+ Kg8 29.Nxe6 Rf7 30.Qg6+ Kh8 31.Rxf7]

Anna Muzychuk

Tan Zhongyi

24.f5?!

This is the simple strategic way but not the best option.24.fxg5! was better. 24…Nxd3 25.cxd3 Ba6 26.g6 Bxd3 27.gxf7+ Kh8 28.h6 Bg6and now White wins simply by doubling in ‘f’ file & capturing Qxe6 thereafter. Black can’t try ….Bc5xd4 due to constant threat of Qg5. 29.Rf3 Qd7 30.Ref1 Bc5 31.Kh2 Bxd4

(31…Qe7 loses to 32.Qxe6 Qh4+ 33.Rh3 Qg5 34.Qxd5)

32.Bxd4 Qe7 33.Rf6 b5 34.Rxe6! Rxd4 35.Rxe7 Rxg4when we reach.

Anna Muzychuk

Tan Zhongyi

White wins beautifully with 36.Re8! Rxe8 37.f8Q+!! Rxf8 38.Rxf8#

Back to the game, position after 24.f5?!

24…exf5 25.Bxf5 Qd8?

25…Qe8 26.e6 f6 offered better resistance.

Anna Muzychuk

Tan Zhongyi

26.h6?!

26.e6! would have won immediately. For example, 26…f6 27.Bxh7+! Kxh7 28.Qf5+ Kh8 29.Qg6 Rxd4 30.Qh6+ Kg8 31.Bxd4 Ne4

(31…Qd6 fails to32.Qg6+ Kh8 33.Rxf6)

32.Qg6+ Kh8 33.Rf5 Qe8 34.Qh6+ Kg8 when we reach

Anna Muzychuk

Tan Zhongyi

White wins with 35.Rxe4! dxe4 36.Rxg5+! fxg5 37.Qg7#

Back to the game after 26.h6?!

26…Bc8 [26…Ne4 was better.]27.e6 f6

Anna Muzychuk

Tan Zhongyi

28.Bxh7+! Kxh7 29.Qf5+ Kh8

Anna Muzychuk

Tan Zhongyi

Tan broke through Muzychuk’s position with 30.Nc6!

But not 30.Qg6?? Rg8.

30…Qe8 31.Qxg5! Rg8

Anna Muzychuk

Tan Zhongyi

The game went32.Rxf6??

32.Bxf6+!would have won. For example, 32…..Bxf6 33.Qxf6+ Kh7 34.Qf7+ Qxf7 35.exf7 Rf8 36.Re8 Ne6 37.Nd8 Bd7 38.Nxe6 Rxe8 39.f8Q! Rxf8 40.Nxf8+ Kxh6 41.Nxd7etc.

32…Bxf6 33.Qxf6+ Kh7 34.Ne7

Anna Muzychuk

Tan Zhongyi

Now Black returned the ‘favour’ with34…Re4??

34…Bxe6! holds. For example, 35.Nxg8 Qxg8 36.Qe7+ Qf7! 37.Rxe6 Qxe7 38.Rxe7+ Kxh6=with a draw.

35.Rxe4 Nxe4 36.Nxg8! Qxg8

36…Nxf6 loses to 37.Nxf6+ Kxh6 38.Nxe8 Bxe6 39.Bd4 b5 40.Nc7 etc.

37.Qf7+! Black resigned.1–0

Analysis of one of Gukesh’s Matches

Gukesh won the game by forcibly exchanging Queens with 1.Qe5!

Not 1.e5?? Qd7+ 2.Kf6

(2.e6 is no better, for example, 2…Qh7+ 3.Ke5 Qc7+ 4.Ke4 Qc4+ 5.Kf5 Qc5+ 6.Qe5 Qf2+ 7.Ke4+ Kg6 8.e7 Qe2+ 9.Kd5 Qxe5+ 10.Kxe5 Kf7 11.Kd6 Ke8 12.Ke6 Draw!)

2…Qf7+!! 3.Kxf7 Draw!

1…Qd7+

1…Qf1+ loses to 2.Ke6+ when Black can’t avoid exchange of Queens. 2…Kg6 3.Qf5 +  Or 2…Kh6 then 3.Qf6+ Or 2…Kg4 3.Qf5+ Finally, if  2…Kh4,then 3.Qf6+)

2.Kf6+ Kh4 3.Qg5+ Black resigned in view of the variation 3…Kh3 4.Qf5+ Qxf5+ 5.Kxf5with an elementary win.            1–0

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Praveen Thipsay is one of the earliest Grandmasters and the first Indian to win the Commonwealth Chess Champion. He is a FIDE Senior Trainer who has been a coach to many promising Indian Chess players.

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