Cover Pic: Your scribe compiling yet another report (yes, it’s coming…be patient, I’m no octopus)

By winning their respective games, GM Batchuluun and IM Goh Wei Ming streaked past the field, leaving their closest contender Tin Jingyao 1.5 points behind.

Batchuluun inked his claim for the $1000 first prize by taking out top seed in a long attrition grind when the latter faltered in allowing his h-pawn to be let loose only to be rounded up and nabbed. The subsequent Mongolian technique displayed was impeccable.

Wei Ming continued to make progress towards his 3rd and final GM norm with a patchy win over Irine. The play was nervy and tentative as Irine slowly but surely began to annex more and more space and squares on the kingside. With a hazardous c-pawn sacrifice, Wei Ming changed the dynamics of the game, forcing Irine to play on the whole board. Perhaps dejected that her own GM norm aspirations have faded away, Irine made an impudent sacrifice and Wei Ming gladly collected the point.  He now needs 1 out of 2 points for the cherished goal.

A well played Tarrasch system by Qing Aun against Qianyun’s Gulko French (3…b6) allowed the ACSI schoolboy to call the shots in the opening, claiming great squares for his pieces. However, his inclination not to play any weakening (and space gaining) moves allowed the latter to seize control and Qing Aun soon found his position collapsing with his e-pawn untenable. And…he woke up and started setting ploys to induce the WIM to make concessions. Finally, his queen got to sneak into the back rank and it made a beeline for perpetual check.  The FM staked his bid for the TAHAN prize with this effort. This was by no means a debacle for Qianyun. She now requires 1 out of 2 points for her final WGM norm.

The last two games to show were less eventful. Another Bird’s opening by Xiangyi  turned into a French Exchange setup thanks to a minor piece exchange on f3. Both sides probed and prodded but neither side offered an inch so a fair draw was reached.

Nguyen Anh Dung got a nice initiative going in a classical Nimzo Indian with good queenside pressure. Perhaps he could have advanced his kingside pawns to press on. Munhkgal was up to the task with a cute pawn sacrifice on move 29 to secure his half point.