Jermuk GP: Dzagnidze leads before the final round

7/5/2010 – With one round to go in the FIDE Women Grand Prix the 23-year-old Georgian grandmaster Nana Dzagnidze is in the lead by a full point, and so will finish at least equal first. Her closest (and only) rival Tatiana Kosintseva missed a clear win in round ten. It would have brought her withing half a point of the leader. Big illustrated report on rounds nine and ten.

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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. The winner of each gets € 6,500 out of a prize fund of € 40,000. The overall winner of the series receives an additional € 15,000 at the end of the series. The Jermuk Grand Prix is one of the strongest women tournaments of all times. There are eleven rounds in all, with one free day: Wednesday, June 30.

Round nine

Round 9 – July 3, 2010
Dzagnidze, Nana
½-½
Shen Yang
Kosintseva, Tatiana
1-0
Hou Yifan
Cramling, Pia
½-½
Mkrtchian, Lilit
Chiburdanidze, Maia
1-0
Xu Yuhua
Kovanova, Baira
0-1
Danielian, Elina
Fierro Baquero, Martha
0-1
Stefanova, Antoaneta

In this game Stefanova equalised with ease after the opening, and subsequently garnered a positional plus. In due time, she won a pawn, and in turn, the game.

Kosintseva-Hou Yifan was a French in which White secured a considerable advantage, which unfortunately for her, quickly vanished.

Kosintseva,T (2534) - Hou Yifan (2589) [C11]
4th FIDE GP w Jermuk ARM (9), 03.07.2010
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 Be7 8.Qd2 0-0 9.Be2 b6 10.Nd1 f5 11.c3 a5 12.0-0 Ba6 13.Bxa6 Rxa6 14.c4 cxd4 15.Nxd4 Nxd4 16.cxd5 Nb5 17.Qe2 Nc7 18.d6 b5

19.dxc7? No need to rush, says the official bulletin (and Fritz). Instead 19.a4 is stronger. 19...Qxc7 20.Nc3 Qc4 21.Qxc4 bxc4 22.Rfd1 Nc5 23.Rd4 Nd3 24.Rxc4 Nxb2 25.Rc7 Bd8 26.Rb7 Nc4 27.Bc5 Bb6 28.Bxb6 Rxb6 29.Rc7

Now, with a comfortable position on the board, it is Yifan's turn to err: 29...Ne3? 29… Nb2! and it is not at all clear how White plans to improve the position and gain an advantage. 30.Re1 Nd5 31.Nxd5 exd5 32.Rc5 and White goes on to win a pawn and the game. 32...a4 33.Rxd5 Rb2 34.Rc1 Rxa2 35.Rd7 Rb8 36.h3 a3 37.Rcc7 Ra1+ 38.Kh2 a2 39.Rxg7+ Kh8 40.Rxh7+ Kg8 41.Rcg7+ Kf8 42.Ra7 Kg8 43.Rhg7+ Kh8 44.Rgf7 Rf1 45.Rxa2 Rxf4 46.Raa7 Re8 47.e6 Rh4 48.Rxf5 1-0.

This game was naturally the center of attention: would Dzagnidze make it six wins in a row? In a Botvinnik Variation of the Slav Defence the players came out of the opening in a relatively even but interesting, position. However, White "eschewed" (bulletin) risky moves and played it safe, maintaining a slight positional superiority. Black also played responsibly and after 33 moves the two decided to call it a day and share the point.

Cramling,P (2536) - Mkrtchian,L (2477) [A04]
4th FIDE GP w Jermuk ARM (9), 03.07.2010
1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nc3 e5 4.e3 Nf6 5.Qc2 d6 6.a3 g6 7.Rb1 a5 8.d3 Bg7 9.Be2 0-0 10.0-0 d5 11.cxd5 Nxd5 12.Bd2 b6 13.Rfc1 Ba6 14.Ne1 Rc8 15.Bg4 Rb8 16.Nxd5 Qxd5 17.b4 axb4 18.Bf3 Qd6

Lilit Mkrtchian has equalised and is now better. Pia Cramling gets herself into more trouble: 19.Bxc6? The tournament bulletin give 19.axb4 Nxb4 20.Bxb4 cxb4 21.Qa4 b5 22.Qa2 Bc8 23.Bd5 Bf5 24.Qb3= as the correct continuation. 19...b3 20.Rxb3 Qxc6. From now on it is only Black who is pressing for a win, but the very experienced Swedish GM is able to hold. 21.Bc3 Rfd8 22.a4 c4 23.Bb2 Qxa4 24.dxc4 Rbc8 25.Rxb6 Qxc2 26.Rxc2 Rxc4 27.Rxc4 Bxc4 28.h3 e4 29.Bxg7 Kxg7 30.Rb4 Ba6 31.Ra4 Bb5 32.Ra5 Rd1 33.Rxb5 Rxe1+ 34.Kh2 Re2 35.Kg3 h6 36.h4 h5 37.Re5 f5 38.Re6 Kf7 39.Ra6 Kg7 40.Ra3 Kf6 41.f3 Ke6 42.Ra6+ Kf7 43.Ra3 Ke6 44.Ra6+ Kf7 45.Ra3 ½-½.


Lilit before the start of a game she came very close to winning


Round ten

Round 10 – July 4, 2010
Mkrtchian, Lilit
½-½
Shen Yang
Hou Yifan
½-½
Chiburdanidze, Maia
Stefanova, Antoaneta
½-½
Kosintseva, Tatiana
Danielian, Elina
½-½
Fierro Baquero, Martha
Cramling, Pia
1-0
Kovanova, Baira
Xu Yuhua
½-½
Dzagnidze, Nana

In the only decisive game of round ten, Cramling-Kovanova, the position was even for a very long time. Black was certainly not worse, until the middlegame, when Kovanova ruined it over a five-move stretch.

Cramling,P (2536) - Kovanova,B (2366) [A15]
4th FIDE GP w Jermuk ARM (10), 04.07.2010
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 b6 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.0-0 Be7 6.b3 0-0 7.Bb2 c5 8.e3 d5 9.Qe2 Nc6 10.Rd1 dxc4 11.bxc4 Qc7 12.Nc3 Rac8 13.d3 Rfd8 14.Rab1 Rd7 15.Ne1 Nb4 16.Bxb7 Qxb7 17.f4 a6 18.a3 Nc6 19.Ba1 Qb8 20.Nf3 Rb7 21.a4 Rd8 22.Rd2 Ne8 23.d4 cxd4 24.exd4 Nf6 25.Kg2 Rbd7 26.Rbd1 Bb4 27.h3

27...Qb7? After 27… Ne7!? 28. Ne5 Rc7 29. Rd3 Rc8 Black is doing fine. 28.d5 exd5 29.Nxd5 Nxd5 30.Rxd5 Bf8? 30...Be7 was necessary. Now Baira goes on to lose the game. 31.Ng5 h6 32.Qd3 hxg5 33.Rxd7 Rxd7 34.Qxd7 Qa8 35.Qd5 gxf4 36.Rf1 Qe8 37.Rxf4 Ne7 38.Qd1 Ng6 39.Rf3 Ne7 40.Kh2 Qc6 41.Rf4 Ng6 42.Rg4 Qc5 43.h4 Qf2+ 44.Kh3 Qf5 45.Kg2 Bc5 46.Qe2 Kh7 47.Bc3 Be7 48.Qe4 Qh5 49.Rf4 Kg8 50.Rf5 Qd1 51.h5 Bc5 52.hxg6 1-0.

In the above game Hou Yifan characteristically chose a rare line in a Caro-Kann with the hope that her constant search for activity would bear fruit. However, the decorated veteran was up to the challenge, at first parrying all the threats and then after sacrificing a pawn in the endgame, taking the game to its logical ending and claiming a draw.

Mkrtchian-Yang was yet another tension-filled affair. As strange as it may seem, it was White who was on the defensive after the opening phase of the English Four Knights Variation, all the way to the end of the game. Even in some near-hopeless positions, it should be acknowledged that she was very resourceful in generating counterplay ideas that seemed to keep Yang from finding the one or two finishing moves that would have resulted in a black win. One such example was the trap set up by white, into which Black stepped.

Mkrtchian,L (2477) - Shen Yang (2452) [A28]
4th FIDE GP w Jermuk ARM (10), 04.07.2010
1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.e3 Bb4 5.Nd5 e4 6.Ng1 0-0 7.Qc2 Re8 8.Ne2 Bf8 9.a3 b6 10.Nec3 Bb7 11.Be2 Ne5 12.0-0 Nxd5 13.cxd5 f5 14.d3 exd3 15.Bxd3 Nxd3 16.Qxd3 Qf6 17.b4 Bd6 18.Bb2 Qh6 19.f4 a5 20.Rf3 axb4 21.axb4 Rxa1+ 22.Bxa1 Qf6 23.Qc4 h5 24.Bb2 h4 25.Qb3 Qf7 26.Qc4 c5 27.b5 Be7 28.Qd3 d6 29.Rf2 Bf6 30.Rd2 c4 31.Qe2 Qc7 32.Kf2 Re7 33.h3 Qc5 34.Na4 Qxb5 35.Bxf6 gxf6 36.Nc3 Qb3? (36...Qb4 was necessary) 37.Nd1 c3 38.Qd3 Rc7

It looks pretty much over for White, doesn't it? So how did Lilit save the day? 39.Qxf5!! Rg7 40.Qxf6 cxd2 41.Qd8+ Kf7 42.Qd7+ Kg8 43.Qe8+ and because of the perpetual ½-½.


Great save in round ten by Lilit Mkrtchian

Tatiana Kosintseva is the only player challenging the leader Nana Dzagnidze, and in round ten it looked as though the Russian GM would move to within half a point of her Georgian opponent:

Stefanova,A (2560) - Kosintseva,T (2534) [D38]
4th FIDE GP w Jermuk ARM (10), 04.07.2010
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Qb3 c5 8.a3 Bxc3+ 9.Qxc3 c4 10.Nd2 0-0 11.e3 h6 12.Bf4 Nb6 13.a4 a5 14.Be2 Be6 15.Qa3 Qd7 16.Nb1 Rfc8 17.Be5 Qd8 18.f3 Bf5 19.Nc3 Bd3 20.Rd1 Nfd7 21.Bf4 Bxe2 22.Kxe2 Nf8 23.Rhe1 Rc6 24.Kf1 f5 25.Kg1 Qd7 26.Bg3 Ng6 27.Qa1 Rf8 28.Qc1 Re6 29.Qc2 Qc6 30.Nb5 Rf7 31.Ra1 Rf8 32.Qc3 Nxa4 33.Rxa4 Qxb5 34.Rxa5 Qd7 35.Bf2 Rb6 36.e4? fxe4 37.fxe4 Nf4 38.Bg3 Rb3 39.Qd2 Nd3 40.Rxd5

Now 40...Qc6 or 40...Qe6 should cement Black's victory. 40...Qg4? A first inaccuracy on the final move before the time control. 41.Qd1 Qxd1 42.Rxd1 Rxb2. The win is more difficult now. 43.h4 Ra8? Stronger was 43...b5. 44.Kh2 b5 45.Rd7 Re8 46.e5 b4 47.Rc7 Ra2 48.Rf1 and now it is going to be a draw. 48...c3 49.Rff7 c2 50.Rxg7+ Kh8 51.Rh7+ Kg8 52.Rhg7+ Kh8 53.Rh7+ Kg8 54.Rcg7+ Kf8 55.Rf7+ Kg8 56.Rhg7+ Kh8 57.Rh7+ ½-½.

It goes without saying that the above game was brimming with excitement. Georgian GM Nana Dzagnidze has had a wonderful tournament in Jermuk, and spectators were watching to see how long her great results would continue. The mainline Sicilian Defence she played was another testimony that the young Georgian came to Jermuk very well prepared. If anyone it was Black who had theoretical winning chances, and the game ended after 36 moves in a just draw.


The lakeside park and resort late in the evening

All pictures by Arman Karakhanyan, courtesy of FIDE

Standings after ten rounds


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