The North Urals Cup is took place from July 26th - August 3rd 2008 in Krasnoturinsk, Russia. It was the strongest women's tournament ever, with the players Xu Yuhua (China), Humpy Koneru (India), Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria), Pia Cramling (Sweden), Marie Sebag (France), Anna Muzychuk (Slovenia), Anna Ushenina (Ukraine) and Natalya Pogonina (Russia).
Round four: Anna Ushenina, 2476, vs Marie Sebag, 2530 (draw in 48 moves)
Anna Muzychuk, 2504, from Ukraine/Slovenia
Top seed Koneru Humpy, 2622, India
Former Women's World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova, 2550, Bulgaria
Press conference with Vladimir Georgiev, Antoaneta Stefanova's coach, Pia Cramling and WIM Anna Burtasova
A partial solar eclipse on August 1st, visible through clouds with the naked eye
Round six: Natalija Pogonina vs Koneru Humpy (Humpy won), and Xu Yuhua vs Anna Ushenina (Ushenina won)
IM Anna Ushenina, 2476, Ukraine
IM Marie Sebag, 2529, France
Anna Ushenina vs Koneru Humpy in round seven (draw in 21 moves)
Marie Sebag vs Pia Cramling (Sebag won in 61 moves)
After an exciting game of Pogonina vs Cramling in round four the press attaché of the tournament talked to the only Russian participant and to discuss her opinion on her own play, the impact of the day off on the mood and competition in friendship.
Natalya, today you had a very perspective position.
It deviated from the main line. Probably Pia wanted to play defensively after the defeat. At some moment I played very actively and got the opportunity to sacrifice pawns. Pia somehow lost the thread of the game and I got the advantage. Her position looked doubtful; I mean weak pawns, open king, etc. At some moment I thought I could win.
How do you feel after the day off?
WGM Natalija Pogonina, 2469, Russia
On the one hand everybody waits for the day off as a possibility to have some rest; on the other hand the rhythm changes and it may even bother you. It is difficult to say what impact the day off had on me, as I could have played better today.
At the press conference you were the only to say that you wanted to win the tournament.
I just said what everybody thinks but does not say aloud for some reasons. Of course every participant wants to win. We must be honest. Despite the fact that I had the lowest rating here, I think about victory.
How do you spend your free time in Krasnoturinsk?
I play dices. It is a favourite game of many chess players. It helps to abstract from the tournament, to have some fun.
You know most of your opponents. Does the competition influence personal relationships?
As for me, it has no impact. When you play with somebody, it’s one thing, your contact outside the games is another thing. Even if I lose to somebody it doesn’t mean that I will ignore this person in the evening.
What are your chess plans?
I will play in the team in the national league of Montenegro. Then I will take part in the Intelligent Games in China.
Certainly other participants of the “North Urals Cup” will be there too.
Of course, all of them are the world strongest chess players.
How do you evaluate your play in the tournament so far?
I am balancing but have some strength in reserve. I struggle till the last minute and use all chances, even in bad positions. The fact that I haven’t played for three months probably affects me. I finished the faculty of law in the university. But I think my play is improving.
All photos published with permission of Vadim Smalkov
The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse the PGN games.