European Women’s Championship: Socko leads midway through

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
8/26/2022 – Back-to-back wins in rounds 5 and 6 allowed Polish GM Monika Socko to grab the sole lead at the European Women’s Championship in Prague. Two players, Gunay Mammadzada and Maria Gevorgyan, stand a half point back, as the participants will get a rest day before Saturday’s seventh round. In round 7, Socko will play white against Gevorgyan, while Mammadzada will face top seed Nana Dzagnidze, also with white, on the second board. | Photo: Official site

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Mammadzada and Gevorgyan a half point back

Monika Socko, aged 44, is a well-known grandmaster who won the Polish Women’s Championship no fewer than eight times (she won the national title for the last time in 2017). The experienced GM has not yet won a European Individual Championship, though. The closest she came to taking home the continental title was the third place she obtained at the 2010 edition in Rijeka, Croatia. Pia Cramling and Viktorija Cmylite grabbed gold and silver back then — both players are skipping this year’s European tournament.

Going into the one rest day at this year’s European, Socko is the sole leader in Prague, as she scored five wins and a draw so far in the Czech capital. An 11-round event, the continental championship is more a marathon than a sprint, though, which means Socko will need to maintain the level she has shown up to this point for five more rounds — the seventh round is set to take place on Saturday, with the last day of play scheduled for next Wednesday.

Two ambitious players from traditional chess countries stand a half point behind the Polish star: Gunay Mammadzada from Azerbaijan and Maria Gevorgyan from Armenia. An 8-player pack on 4½/6 points is very much in the race for first place as well. This group includes two former European champions — i.e. Nana Dzagnidze and Anna Ushenina. Dzagnidze, the top seed, will face Mammadzada in Saturday’s seventh round.

European Women’s Championship 2022

In our last report, after round 4, no fewer than eight players were sharing the lead on 3½/4 points. Since then, Socko managed to collect consecutive wins. First, she defeated her compatriot Jolanta Zawadzka, before taking down sixth seed Elina Danielian with the black pieces, a victory that might go a long way in the fight for the top spot of the podium. Danielian is, in fact, the defending champion in Prague, as she won the 2021 edition in Romania with a remarkable 9/11 score.

Socko beat Serbian WIM Tijana Blagojevic with white in round 3. The game came to an end when Black’s rook had no place to go in a queenless middlegame position.

 

After 42.Nd7, the rook can only prevent being captured by transferring to d6. But then 43.Nf5+ is a deadly fork. Blagojevic resigned.

 

Standings after round 6

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Socko Monika 5,5 0
2 Mammadzada Gunay 5 0
3 Gevorgyan Maria 5 0
4 Dzagnidze Nana 4,5 0
5 Ushenina Anna 4,5 0
6 Mammadova Gulnar 4,5 0
7 Fataliyeva Ulviyya 4,5 0
8 Maltsevskaya Aleksandra 4,5 0
9 Mkrtchian Lilit 4,5 0
10 Sargsyan Anna M. 4,5 0
11 Babiy Olga 4,5 0
12 Zawadzka Jolanta 4 0
13 Danielian Elina 4 0
14 Gaponenko Inna 4 0
15 Batsiashvili Nino 4 0

...123 players


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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.
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