Cover Pic: The irrepressible Timur Gareyev must be feeling rather sheepish after his inexplicable 31 Bxb7 against Irine.

The term ‘stranger things have happened’ definitely is the phrase to describe Round 6 with respect to the Timur-Irine and Qianyun-Xiangyi games.

GM Timur Gareyev, after suffering a loss against GM Nguyen in the previous round, went for blood against IM Irine Sukandar and was outright winning after 9 moves following a stunning TN in the King’s  Gambit (4.Qe2!). Irine simply hung on for dear life, was virtually out on one limb, waiting for the inevitable when Timur made an inexplicable bishop sacrifice that frittered away the brilliant play of the last 30 moves. Irine was moved to mention at the Sponsor’ Challenge that ‘it pays to TAHAN’, even when it seems hopeless’.

Qianyun essayed the exchange variation to take theory away from Xiangyi’s French Defence. But Xiangyi was not in the mood to exchange pleasantries as he revved up a pawn storm after castling long. Qianyun was left dangling with one finger on the precipice but she simply refused to drop off the cliff as her king skirted around the edge for the longest time. Then Xiangyi allowed a little check, sent his king the wrong way and he fell headlong into the crevice. Life is tough.

The tournament leader Batchuluun got a slight edge against Jingyao in textbook fashion by playing for  …e5 vs the latter’s hanging pawns setup in a Nimzo Indian. However, both sides did not risk much after that and the point was split. The result suited Batchuluun fine as he retained his lead moving into Round 7.

Similarly, Wei Ming did not burn any bridges in this round, allowing Nguyen to remove bits and any slight advantage that the former possessed in the Rossolimo Sicilian with the resulting queenside majority became purely academic.

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Qing Aun inexplicably donates the h-pawn to Munkhgal in a sedate London system but played well to put tension in the centre. As he put it, his brain ‘short circuited’ and he closed the centre to his detriment and allowed the Mongol to dominate the proceedings totally.