WGM Tokhirjonova on the 50 International Dortmund Open

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The author doing some deep prep before one of her rounds (courtesy of the subject)


I participated in the Dortmund Chess Festival for the first time and was impressed by the unique combination of different tournaments. There was NC (No Castling) World Masters, a GM norm Round Robin event, and two Open tournaments.


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No castling? No problem for Fabi! (courtesy of the organizers)


NC World Masters is a unique event featuring strong players; this year was no exception. Former world champion GM Vladimir Kramnik, current third-highest-rated player in the world GM Fabiano Caruana, GM Pavel Eljanov, and GM Dmitrij Kollars were the invited players for this year. Caruana won the event ahead of Kramnik, despite the latter’s vocal advocacy for NC chess as his preferred variant for the future.




Also, the organizers ran the Sportland NRW Cup as a GM norm Round Robin norm tournament alongside the opens. This event was won by WGM Dinara Wagner, who earned her second GM norm mere weeks after earning her first. She also clinched her final IM norm in the process!




Open-A had around 20 strong GMs and many more IMs. Two German transplants shared top honors, with Russian-born GM Alexander Donchenko and Danish-born GM Rasmus Svane, both playing under the host country’s flag, finishing with 7½/9. IM Arthur Guo was the top American finisher, ending up in a multi-way tie for eighth with 6½/9.


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There was no shortage of legends at the festival. Can you name both of these greats? (courtesy of the organizers)


U.S. Women’s chess was well-represented at this event, as well, with myself, WGM Tatev Abrahamyan, and WGM Atousa Pourkashian all participating (more on our results later).

While Open-B was for amateur chess players, they played in the mornings; other groups started their games at 3 p.m. local time. The combination of different events at different times in one place made it so everyone could enjoy different chess formats. This was an excellent idea; it seemed like the tournament was making the city more colorful and filling the streets with people, making it livelier.



The town had more things to do and places to go than I expected, which was nice. However, the hotel we stayed in was a drive distance to the city center; even for the first few days, it was around a 25-minute walk to find good places to eat or a supermarket nearby. This situation made our life a bit tough until we found a bridge connecting our hotel to the side we were walking, and it would take only five minutes! Towards the end of the tournament, I already knew there were many connecting bridges around the city, making my walk much nicer. So, overall, it was quite a peaceful city, and the chess tournament brought a good summer noise to it.


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WGM Tatev Abrahamyan (R) finished third in the standings of all women competing in the "A" tournament. Fabi is jealous that she was allowed to castle. (courtesy of the organizers)


The huge tournament hall had a stage with a giant screen where NC World Masters' players & some of the leading boards of the Open-A played, and the big screen was used to show the games, which was lovely. I was curious about the non-castling one, and seeing such great players playing was fantastic. When it comes to my tournament, I cannot say I played a great tournament, even though the start promised a good outcome. But both Pourkashian and Abrahamyan had a good tournament and gained some rating points. You will see their games below.

Regarding my tournament, I cannot say I played well. Dortmund was the third tournament in Europe, and I have been traveling for more than a month there. I felt I did not have enough energy for this tournament, which is my fault. I could have arranged things better to get some time to rest. You can see my flops in my preparation and games. Here is the first great example of it:



This game shows how you should not prepare for the game! Do not forget your lines, especially against strong opponents! And most importantly, play what you know well. Because if you prepare something new and forget it like I did, they will punish you for that, which was the case in my game. He did not give me any chance to return to the game; he played exemplary chess.

Now let's go and analyze our girls' games. Atousa played a great game with the white pieces where her opponent had no chance to pressure her, even though he was trying to get some play for his sacrificed the whole game. Atousa made some precise moves that I liked a lot.



Our next game was played by Tatev. She got a fighting & complicated position, which was hard to evaluate. The time scramble was huge! I was watching the game in the playing hall, and I even got nervous watching them making moves with so few seconds left on the clock.



Finally, I want to end game analysis with my game, which I played well (compared to others). Even though the engine says I made many mistakes, I enjoyed it a lot, because I won. Kudos to my opponent for pushing the position to be complicated and creating some great ideas.



I ended the tournament with a score of 5/9, losing the last round against a 2200-rated player. I wanted to win the game and over-pushed, and the game ended up being a total disaster for me. I gained one rating point, which was good, considering how I played. Our other girls ended the tournament with 5½/9 points each, and Atousa gained 5.5 rating points while Tatev gained 21 rating points and tied for third place!