3/7/2016 – The IMSA Mindgames, is a bit of an in-between for FIDE, as far as chess is concerned, and the Olympics (the normal one, not the chess specific one). Each year it organizes a series of chess events, with a number of top players, offering medals as well as prizes. In this years event were rapid, blitz and basque chess. Here is a large illustrated report.

Over the years, chess has been making desperate attempts to find a place in the Olympics. Often, the sport’s attempt is met with a polite expression of bewilderment, but no concrete results. At best, chess was an exhibition sport during the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

This resulted in the creation of a unique association between the sporting bodies, each of whom identifies the game they represent as a ‘mind sport’ – International Mind Sports Association (IMSA).  The aim of the association is to engage in a dialogue with the International Olympic Committee and initiate these mind sports into the Olympics.

The IMSA in association with FIDE organized the IMSA Elite Mind Games 2016 from 25 February to 3rd March 2016 at Huai’an, China. The event consisted of a rapid tournament, a blitz tournament and a basque tournament for men and women with a handful of top stars competing for the medals.

Rapid Games

The Rapid games were 20 minutes+10 seconds per move affairs with seven rounds in both the Men and Women section. Many pundits have argued that Rapids are the future of the game, where chess is more entertaining and spectator friendly, at least in their opinion. The Games did much to entertain chess fans with fast, heart-pounding action.

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The winner: WGM Tan Zhongyi (2450)

However, the Women’s section only kept the excitement to the games as the competition was nearly run over by the surprise winner Tan Zhongyi who began with five consecutive victories that almost sealed the Gold in her favour before it was over. She did lose the sixth round to Kateryna Lagno but promptly won the last round against Anna Ushenina to finish clear first with 6.0/7.

Final standings of Women’s Rapid

Rk
SNo.
Name
Rtg
FED
Pts.
Perf
1
4
WGM
Tan Zhongyi
2450
CHN
6
2807
2
14
GM
Khotenashvili Bela
2444
GEO
2609
3
3
GM
Ju Wenjun
2532
CHN
2594
4
6
GM
Lagno Kateryna
2593
RUS
2592
5
15
GM
Stefanova Antoaneta
2563
BUL
4
2569
6
7
GM
Krush Irina
2444
USA
2552
7
1
GM
Dzagnidze Nana
2560
GEO
2503
8
2
IM
Paehtz Elisabeth
2482
GER
2485
9
5
GM
Zhao Xue
2506
CHN
2479
10
9
GM
Ushenina Anna
2502
UKR
2477
11
12
WGM
Huang Qian
2443
CHN
3
2454
12
16
GM
Kosteniuk Alexandra
2543
RUS
3
2420
13
13
GM
Gunina Valentina
2464
RUS
2403
14
8
GM
Harika Dronavalli
2478
IND
2383
15
11
GM
Socko Monika
2441
POL
2329
16
10
IM
Mkrtchian Lilit
2459
ARM
2260

 

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Cuban GM Leinier Perez Dominguez (2775)

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China’s GM Wang Hao (2752)

Things became very tight in the Men’s section. Four rounds were played on the first day and Dominguez, Ponomariov and Wang Hao were in the lead with 3.0/4. The games were fiercely fought and, as expected in faster time controls, riddled with mistakes and, of course, tactics!

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Former FIDE World Champion GM Ruslan Ponomariov (2672)

Of all the early leaders, only Ponomariov managed to survive, and even then, all he could manage was a tie for first place with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov on 5.0/7. An Armageddon tie-break became necessary to determine who took gold.

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The Armageddon turned out to be a heart-stopping affair for the spectators
Shak won the toss and chose to play the white pieces with five minutes on the clock to win, while Pono had to play with only four minutes and the black pieces but with a draw sufficient for victory!
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The medalists on the podium

Final standings of Men’s Rapid

Rk
SNo.
Name
Rtg
FED
Pts
Perf
1
7
GM
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
2771
AZE
5
2880
2
15
GM
Ponomariov Ruslan
2672
UKR
5
2880
3
14
GM
Dominguez Perez Leinier
2775
CUB
2840
4
9
GM
Wang Hao
2752
CHN
2806
5
13
GM
Ding Liren
2686
CHN
4
2776
6
10
GM
Li Chao b
2620
CHN
4
2769
7
1
GM
Harikrishna P.
2694
IND
4
2754
8
5
GM
Wojtaszek Radoslaw
2722
POL
2718
9
8
GM
Mamedov Rauf
2655
AZE
2701
10
2
GM
Sargissian Gabriel
2667
ARM
2696
11
4
GM
Navara David
2738
CZE
3
2688
12
16
GM
Wang Yue
2758
CHN
3
2677
13
11
GM
Tomashevsky Evgeny
2719
RUS
3
2674
14
6
GM
Ivanchuk Vassily
2844
UKR
2
2565
15
12
GM
Fressinet Laurent
2723
FRA
2
2578
16
3
GM
Movsesian Sergei
2725
ARM
2493

 

 

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