2010 Women's World Championship – And then there were four...

12/15/2010 – After two weeks of non-stop competition, we are finally down to four players, three of whom are Chinese. The two top ratings, Indian Humpy Koneru (2600) and Chinese Hou Yifan (2591) made it through. Skripchenko played a bold Evans Gambit that might have brought her glory, but a missed chance and she is out, while Harika finally failed a tiebreak, losing to Lufei Ruan. Round and analysis.

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The Women's World Chess Championship is being held at Hatay, Turkey, from December 2nd to 25th. It is a 64-player knockout tournament, with two-game mini-matches qualifying a player to the next round, until the final and 6th round, which is a four-game match to determine the champion. In the event of a draw after the two tournament time-control games, there will be a rapid game tie-breaker, followed by a possible blitz playoff, and finally an armageddon blitz game. The time control is 90 minutes for 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game, and a 30-second increment per move as of the first move. The games are held daily at 3 PM local time (2 PM Paris / 8 AM New York / 5 AM Los Angeles). The full schedule is available here.

Note that the organizers pulled out all the stops to provide coverage of the highest quality, including daily live video coverage during the rounds.


Skripchenko and Lahno enjoying a moment before the games

Round four


GM Humpy Koneru is the only non-Chinese in the last final four

It was a great moment for Chinese players who emerged from the fourth round with three out of four of their quarter-finalists making it to the semis. The only player to resist the oriental onslaught was top-rated Humpy Koneru (2600) who beat WGM Ju Wenjun (2524) in a straightforward 1.5/2.


WGM Ju Wenjun

In their first game, the Indian chose the four-pawns to counter Wenjun's King's Indian, and the game was largely in favor of Humpy with the exception of a few see-saw moments. She secured her spot with a draw in the second game.


Hou Yifan is headed towards her second semi-final and possibly
second shot at the title. Two's a charm?

The match between Hou Yifan and Kateryna Lahno could easily have gone the other way around, rather than the first game win by Yifan and a subsequent draw to cement her qualification. In their very first game, Yifan played a terrible blunder on move 13 that could easily have cost her the game had it not gone unpunished.

Lahno,Kateryna (2522) - Hou,Yifan (2591) [B22]
WCh Women Antakya TUR (4.1), 13.12.2010

1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Bc4 e6 6.d4 cxd4 7.cxd4 d6 8.0-0 Be7 9.Qe2 0-0 10.Nc3 Nxc3 11.bxc3 dxe5 12.dxe5 Qa5 13.Bd2 b6?








It is surprising the Chinese no.1's sense of danger didn't start ringing since the sudden lack of squares for the queen should have set off the alarms. 14.a4? 14.Bb5! attacking the knight and boxing in the queen for good, might have changed the fate of the two players. 14...Bb7 15.a3! Taking away both the a3 and b4 squares from the queen. It is now trapped, and can only be saved at the expense of material concessions. 15...Rfd8 16.Be1!


Lahno had a great tournament in spite of the golden opportunity missed

14...Qc5 15.Be3 Qa5 16.Bb5 Bb7 17.Qb2 a6 18.Bxc6 Bxc6 19.Qxb6 Qxb6 20.Bxb6 White may be up a pawn temporarily, but the bishop pair and open lines easily make up for it. 20...Rfc8 21.Bd4 Rab8 22.Rfd1 h6 23.Nd2 Bd5 24.Rdb1 Bg5 25.Nf1 Bc6 26.a5 Rxb1 27.Rxb1 Bb5 28.Ng3 Bd8 29.Ra1 Bd3 30.f3 Rb8 31.Rd1 Bc2 32.Rd2 Bg6 33.Bb6 Bxb6+ 34.axb6 Rxb6 35.Rd8+ Kh7 36.Kf2 a5 37.Ra8 Rb2+ 38.Ke3 Rxg2 39.c4 Rc2 40.Kd4 Rxh2 41.c5 Rd2+ 42.Kc4 Rc2+ 43.Kb5 h5 44.Rxa5 h4 45.Nh1 Bh5 46.Ra3 Rh2 47.c6 Rxh1 48.Rc3 Rb1+ 49.Kc5 h3 50.Rc2 Bxf3 51.c7 Bb7 52.Rc3 Rh1 53.Kb6 Bc8 0-1. [Click to replay]


The players shake hands before the start of the second game of the match

Sadly for the fans of Almira Skripchenko, her match against WGM Xue Zhao also ended up being decided by a short window of opportunity, after which nothing seemed to go right. Their first game was a tame deal, with neither player able to stir up much trouble for the other, but in the second, the French champion made a very bold choice: an Evans Gambit!


Almira Skripchenko played a bold Evans Gambit and came 'oh
so close' to winning!

Her Chinese opponent chose to decline it, and though she knew much of the theory, she ended up in a terrible position with no development or counterplay. RIght when she was getting ready to free herself, Zhao left a chance for Skripchenko that might have signaled a glorious victory, rather than the painful defeat that ensued instead. To be fair, the continuation was a devilish line found by the engine after some time thinking about it.


WGM Xue Zhao has had unexpected success so far and is now a semi-finalist

Skripchenko,Almira (2460) - Zhao,Xue (2474) [C51]
WCh Women Antakya TUR (4.2), 14.12.2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4








An Evans Gambit! Not often does one see this at such a crucial point. 4...Bb6 Declined. A disappointing decision for the spectators, but quite reasonable by Black. It isn't that the white side is so feared, otherwise we would see it regularly at the GM level, but rather that there are quite a number of lines to study if one is to accept it, and quite possibly Zhao preferred a less chaotic and less theory-heavy approach. 5.a4 a6 6.Nc3 Nf6 7.Nd5 Nxd5 8.exd5 Nd4 9.a5 Ba7 10.d6 0-0 [10...cxd6 11.c3 Ne6 12.0-0 0-0 13.d4 Qc7 14.Bd5 Rb8 15.Qd3 b5 16.axb6 Bxb6 17.Bd2 f5 18.Ng5 h6 19.Nh3 a5 20.Rfe1 axb4 21.dxe5 dxe5 22.cxb4 Bb7 23.Bxb7 Qxb7 24.Rxe5 Bd4 25.Rxe6 Bxa1 26.Rd6 0-1 Morozevich,A (2788)-Kamsky,G (2723)/Moscow 2008/CBM 126 Extra (46)] 11.0-0 Nf5 12.d4 [12.Nxe5 Nxd6 13.d4 Nxc4 14.Nxc4 Qh4 15.c3 d5 16.Ne3 c6 17.Re1 Bd7 18.Ra2 1-0 Zelcic,R (2460)-Rogic,D (2390)/Djakovo 1994/EXT 1997 (37)] 12...cxd6 13.Bg5 Qe8 14.Re1 Nxd4 15.Nxd4 Bxd4 16.Ra3 d5 17.Bxd5 d6








Here White missed a decisive continuation, which although hardly obvious, would have been a worthy ending had it been played. 18.Qf3? 18.Bf6!! Bf5 (Taking the bishop with 18...gxf6 would be punished by 19.Qh5! and Black is helpless against the threats. Ex: 19...Kh8 20.Be4 f5 21.Rh3; 18...Kh8 19.Qh5! The threat is quite simply 20.Be4 and if h6 21.Qxh6+!) 19.Rg3 Bg6








Analysis

Leave it to an engine to come up with this incredible continuation. 20.Rxg6!! hxg6 21.Qg4! Threatening Qxg6 and Qxg7 mate. 21...Kh7 (21...gxf6? 22.Qxg6+ Kh8 23.Qh6+ Kg8 24.Be4) 22.Qh4+ Kg8 23.Qg5 and Black must give up the queen to avoid mate. 23...Kh7 is met by 24.Re4 18...Kh8 19.Bf6 Alas! Though solid, it no longer has the same bite as in the previous move. 19...Qd7 20.c3?? An oversight missing Black's next move. 20...e4 21.Bxg7+ Bxg7 Black is now just up a piece. 22.Rxe4 Qf5 23.Qd3 Be6 24.Bxb7 Ra7 25.Bc6 Rc8 26.b5 axb5 27.Bxb5 d5 28.Rea4 Qxd3 29.Bxd3 Bxc3 30.a6 d4 31.Bf1 Kg7 32.h3 Kf6 33.g4 Ke7 34.Bb5 Kd6 35.Be2 Rb8 36.Bf3 Rb1+ 37.Kg2 Bb3 38.Be4 Rb2 39.Bxh7 Bxa4 40.Rxa4 Rd2 41.Be4 Kc5 42.Bf5 Rd1 43.Kf3 Kb5 44.Bd7+ Rxd7 45.a7 Rd8 46.a8Q Rxa8 47.Rxa8 d3 48.Rf8 d2 49.Rxf7 Re1 50.Rd7 0-1. [Click to replay]


WGM Ruan Lufei (2480) outlasted IM Harika Dronavalli (2525) in the tiebreaks

The only match to extend into the tiebreaks was between Indian IM Harika Dronavalli and WGM Lufei Ruan. Their first two classical games were well-fought but niether player was able to tip the balance in their favor so it was once more to the tiebreaks for both players. Harika had emerged several times on the winning end so far, but this time whether exhausted of nervous energy or in a bad day, the Indian found herself drifting in both games and soon got into trouble, eventually losing the encounter.

Pictures by Turkish Federation

 
Europe Echecs is providing daily video reports

Round four results

Name
FED
Tit.
Rtg
G1
G2
Rp1
Rp2
Bz1
Bz2
SD
Total
  Round 4 Match 01
Ruan, Lufei
CHN
WGM
2480
½
½
1
½
Harika, Dronavalli
IND
IM
2525
½
½
0
½
  Round 4 Match 02
Koneru, Humpy
IND
GM
2600
1
½
Ju, Wenjun
CHN
WGM
2524
0
½
½
  Round 4 Match 03
Hou, Yifan
CHN
GM
2591
1
½
Lahno, Kateryna
UKR
GM
2522
0
½
½
  Round 4 Match 04
Zhao, Xue
CHN
GM
2474
½
1
Skripchenko, Almira
FRA
IM
2460
½
0
½

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