11th World University Chess Championship

Day 3, Status quo maintained

zurich chess

Two long fights between the leaders, but no decision – after round four nobody was left with a clean score in the World University Chess Championships in Zurich. Ilya Khmelniker from Israel had been the surprise of the first third of the men’s tournament.

However, before round 4 his chances to hold his own against the great tournament favourite Wang Yue were not considered too high, given that the Chinese boasted a 250 points advantage in Elo rating and had the White pieces. Unimpressed, Khmelniker chose a sharp variation of the Grünfeld Defence, sacrificing his b7-pawn early on. Despite an immediate exchange of queens, Wang Yue remained in the defensive for a long time.

Nevertheless, step by step he managed with careful play to neutralise the opponent’s initiative. The game reached a turning point at move 25. Just when he was about to finally complete his development, Wang Yue oversaw a very simple tactical combination based on a knight fork. Within three moves the game turned completely: suddenly Khmelniker was a pawn up instead of a pawn down. As material was reduced to one wing, though, Wang Yue just managed to save himself into a draw.

The two leaders were joined by the untitled Mongolian Bayarsaikhan Gundavaa, who beat his second grandmaster in a row, Susanto Megaranto. The trio on 3.5 points is followed by nine players with half a point less.

The top game in the women’s tournament was less dramatic but no less interesting. The Slovak Zuzana Borosova put her opponent from Russia under strong pressure. Zoja Severiukhina tenaciously fought back. In order to fend off a worse fate, she eventually had to cede a pawn on the kingside for which she obtained some counter-chances on the queenside, especially as White’s knight was caught in an offside position.

When the two players agreed a draw on move 33, Borosova was still a pawn up but evidently unhappy with the recent development of the game. Fearing that she might even get in danger, she preferred to split the point. Since the closest rivals did not win either, Borosova and Severiukhina keep the lead. They are followed by a group of six players, among them the local star Monika Seps who won a beautiful counter-attacking game against the German Sarah Hoolt.

The tournament, which is unusually rich in attractive tactical games, is daily followed by many dozens of chess aficionados from the greater Zurich area. But also in the countries of the participants the progress of the tournament is watched closely. During each round up to two thousand spectators are counted who follow the games online at

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