Hou Yifan bounces back, ready for final showdown

8/10/2010 – Owing to illness the youngest participant in the FIDE Women's Grand Prix had to play her round eight game on the free day. Hou Yifan won it, drew the next and won in round ten. Meanwhile former women's world champion Antoaneta Stefanova won two in succession to come within striking range of tournament victory. The two play each other in the final round. Report from Ulaanbaatar.

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The FIDE Women Grand Prix, a series of elite tournaments organised by FIDE and Global Chess, is being held in various countries around the world. There are six tournaments spread over two years, with three tournaments every year. They have become part of the Women's World Championship cycle, which now becomes an annual event.

The current Grand Prix is taking place in the capital and largest city in Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar (or Ulan Bator). The participants include four former Women World champions, playing together for the first time. The average rating of all 12 players is 2487, making this one of the strongest many-player women's events ever. Rounds one to eleven of the event are on July 30 to August 11th, with free days on August 3rd and 8th.

Round eight: Hou Yifan-Zhu Chen 1-0
On the free day there was a game to be played between the two Chinese GMs. Hou Yifan had taken ill after round seven and Zhu Chen had agreed to postpone the game. It was a ruy Lopez and was won on Sunday by the 16-year-old prodigy in 50 moves.

Round 9 – August 9th, 2010
Stefanova, Antoaneta
1-0
Sebag, Marie
Zhao Xue
0-1
Xu Yuhua
Kosintseva, Tatiana
½-½
Koneru, Humpy
Chiburdanidze, Maia
½-½
Hou Yifan
Zhu Chen
½-½
Shen Yang
Munguntuul, Batkhuyag
1-0
Yildiz, Betul Cemre

A critical game in this round was the win by Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria over French GM Marie Sebag. The Bulgarian GM outplayed her opponent convincingly and ended the game with a flourish.

Stefanova,A (2560) - Sebag,M (2519) [A09]
5th FIDE GP w Ulaanbaatar MGL (9), 09.08.2010
1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 c6 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Qc2 Nbd7 6.b3 Bd6 7.Bb2 0-0 8.Be2 b6 9.Rg1 Bb7 10.g4 c5 11.h4 Rc8 12.0-0-0 Ne4 13.Nxe4 dxe4 14.Ng5 Be5 15.Bxe5 Nxe5 16.Nxe4 Bxe4 17.Qxe4 Qf6 18.f4 Nc6 19.Kb1 Rfd8 20.h5 Rd6 21.g5 Qe7 22.Bd3 g6 23.hxg6 fxg6 24.a3 Rcd8 25.Bc2 a6 26.Rh1 b5 27.Rh2 bxc4 28.Rdh1 cxb3

29.Qxg6+ Kf8 30.Rxh7 bxc2+ 31.Kc1 and mate to follow. 1-0.

With this win Antoaneta Stefanova (above in round nine) drew level with top seed Humpy Koneru, who drew her game against Russian GM Kosintseva Tatiana.


Round 10 – August 10th, 2010
Hou Yifan
1-0
Munguntuul, Batkhuyag
Koneru, Humpy
0-1
Zhao Xue
Shen Yang
½-½
Xu Yuhua
Zhu Chen
1-0
Chiburdanidze, Maia
Sebag, Marie
1-0
Kosintseva, Tatiana
Yildiz, Betul Cemre
0-1
Stefanova, Antoaneta

In round ten the key games were won by Hou Yifan and Antoaneta Stefanova, while Humpy Koneru ruined her chances with a second loss in this tournament.

Koneru,H (2600) - Zhao Xue (2462) [E15]
5th FIDE GP w Ulaanbaatar MGL (10), 10.08.2010
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.Qa4 Bb7 6.Bg2 c5 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.0-0 0-0 9.Nc3 Be7 10.Rd1 Na6 11.Bf4 Nc5 12.Qc2 Qc8 13.Rd4 d5 14.Rc1 Nce4 15.Nxe4 dxe4 16.Ne5 g5 17.Bxg5 Qc5 18.Bxf6 Bxf6 19.Rd7 Bc8 20.Ng4 Bg5 21.Rdd1 f5 22.b4 Qxb4 23.Rb1 Qc5 24.Rb5 Qc7

25.f4? exf3 26.Bxf3 Ba6 27.Re5 Rad8 28.Rxd8 Rxd8 29.Kg2 Bc8 30.h4 Be7 31.Re3 fxg4 32.Bxg4 Bc5 33.Bxe6+ Kg7 34.Re4 Bb7 35.Bd5 Rxd5 36.cxd5 Bxd5 37.Kh3 Bxe4 38.Qxe4 Qd7+ 39.g4 0-1. Well played by the Chinese GM, who in the press conference drew attention to her well prepared move 16…g5. "Before this tournament, I studied several games with this opening," said Zhao. "I thought it was worth a try. My opponent lost much time thinking and got into trouble in the middlegame."


Munguntuul vs Hou in round ten. The Chinese GM always has her silver pot with soaked resins and dates, and, like one billion of her compatriots, a little tin of Tiger Balm handy. In the background we can see Stefanova playing Yildiz.

Hou Yifan (2577) - Munguntuul,B (2421) [B80]
5th FIDE GP w Ulaanbaatar MGL (10), 10.08.2010
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Be3 Be7 7.f4 0-0 8.Be2 Nc6 9.Qd2 e5 10.Nb3 a5 11.a4 Be6 12.f5 Bxb3 13.cxb3 Nxe4 14.Nxe4 d5 15.f6 Bb4 16.Nc3 d4 17.fxg7 Re8 18.Bc4 dxe3 19.Qxe3 Qd4 20.Qf3 Re7 21.Rf1 Qf4 22.Qh3 Qe4+ 23.Kf2 Bc5+ 24.Kg3 Qg6+ 25.Qg4 Kxg7 26.Ne4 Qxg4+ 27.Kxg4 Bd4 28.Rf6 Rg8 29.Raf1

The recovering Chinese GM has played very aggressively in this slightly crazy Scheveningen, and her pieces, all of them, are clearly on a regicidal mission. The next black move is irresistibly tempting, but leads to the downfall of the very talented Mongolian WGM. 29...Kh8+? (better was 29...Nd8) 30.Kh3 Nd8 31.Bxf7 Nxf7 32.Rxf7 Rxf7 33.Rxf7 Rg7 34.Rf8+ Rg8 35.Rxg8+ Kxg8. Batkhuyag is a pawn down and has enough weaknesses to guarantee her opponent an easy win. 36.Kg4 Kf7 37.Kf5 Ke7 38.g4 Kd7 39.Nf6+ Kc6 40.Nxh7 Kc5 41.g5 Bxb2 42.Nf6 Bc1 43.h4 Kb4 44.h5 1-0. After the game Hou said: "I sacrificed a pawn e4 and got an initiative. My opponent had better position, I think. The endgame was equal but 29..Kh8 was a mistake which gave me the opportunity to win." Munguntuul: "I spend too much time thinking in the opening. After I dropped the pawn on f7 I lost a difficult endgame."

In Yildiz-Stefanova, the first Caro-Kann ever by the Bulgarian GM, the players castled on opposite sides and exchanged queens early. Over-enthusiastic play by the Turkish WIM allowed Stefanova to pick up her h-pawn, advance her own kingside pawns and win an important point.

Standings after ten rounds

In the final round we will see the perfect showdown between the two players who are vying for the overall victory. Antoaneta Stefanova has the white pieces and will certainly play for the win she needs. She complained that since the game will start at 10 a.m. she will not have enough time for preparation. Her opponent laughed when asked: "I need a draw – I think everyone knows my planning and my play."


A Mongolian blossom beautifully captured by the FIDE photographer

Information and pictures from Ulaanbaatar supplied by FIDE


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