Cover Pic: IM Liu Xiangyi deciding to play ‘Berserker mode’ against GM Timur Gareyev. The body language tells it all.

As our first alternate FM Andrey Terekhov noted, the tension of the previous round dropped a few notches this round when the encounter between Wei Ming and Batchuluun ended in a draw before you can say “What’s going on at the Trump-Kim Summit ah?” Of course it does not make any sense for the tournament leader and his nearest challenger who has his eyes on the final GM norm to risk their situations.

Likewise Nguyen Anh Dung and Irine did not see any reason to bash each other over the board.

Timur was in the mood for some original chess but after mucking around with the Orang Utan, his opponent Xiangyi  was absolutely disoriented. He soon found himself in an inferior, prospect-less position, with Timur enjoying a mobile e- and d -pawn centre and the space advantage that comes along with it.  “Instead of waiting for him to push e4-e5, I decided to just go for it and mess things up. It’s basically a choice of finishing or be finished in 20 odd moves, or getting squeezed for 3 hours or so”. Well, Xiangyi went out in a blaze and both of them could take an early buffet lunch. Life is such.

Gong Qianyun, handled Mungkhgal’s London well in the opening and made a decision she might regret – to isolate her d-pawn in seach for active play. The problem was Mungkhgal pretty much sat on the position and after she missed a chance to liquidate her IQP, White’s bishops began to exert themselves and resistance was futile.

Qing Aun was at the receiving end of a long, protracted grind by Tin Jingyao.