EWICC: Dzagnidze and Cornette in the lead

by André Schulz
4/11/2018 – After three rounds at the European Women's Championship, the number of perfect scores is down to two: Nana Dzagnidze and Diamante Cornette. They will face off today in round four. 21 players are in the chasing pack with 2½, among them the top seed Mariya Muzychuk and the German number one, Elisabeth Paehtz. WATCH LIVE (from 15:00 CEST) | Photo: Official site

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Top European women in the mountains

The host of this year's European Individual Women's Championship is the Slovak Chess Federation. The tournament takes place in picturesque surroundings at the Hotel Bellevue in the "High Tatras" (Vysocké Tatry) mountain range of northern Slovakia, not far from the border to Poland. 

The venue is about 110 Km northwest of Košice, Slovakia's second largest city

Eva Repkova, a longtime top player in the country, has taken on the role of tournament director.

In addition to a total prize fund of 65,000 euros (first prize: 11,000 euros), the players are competing for one of 14 qualifying places for the next FIDE World Cup.

Over 140 women have made their way to the Slovak mountains, including top seeds, former World Champion Mariya Muzychuk, Nino Batsiashvili, Nana Dzagnidze and Valentina Gunina.

Newly blond, Elisabeth Paehtz recently become European rapid champion among women and is ranked 13th in the tournament | Photo: ewcc2018.eu

After two rounds at the European Championships in the High Tatras there were still 13 players on a perfect score, including Mariya Muzychuk, who is at least nominally the top favourite with an Elo rating of 2540. In round three, the ex-World Champion drew with black against Gunay Mamazada.

Nana Dzagnidze prevailed against Polina Shuvalova on board two, while Deimante Cornette defeated Sarah Hoolt. 

Dzagnidze

The top tables | Photo: ewcc2018.eu

Dzagnidze found an instructive bishop retreat move combining defence and attack:

 

You can move the pieces on the live diagram

The position after 23.Rf3. White's rook looks a bit menacing, threatening to "rover" (rook up and over) to h3 with check, but Dzagnidze diffuses that plan with 23...Bc8! the only winning move in the position. Nh5 is now a big threat, therefore: 24.Bxc8 Raxc8 25.Rg1 Qh5. White's minor pieces are too far away from the kingside, and Ng4 is threatened.

Shuvalova tried 26.Rf5 Qh7 27.Rgf1 Ne4! Dzagnidze simply exchanged both pairs of rooks, leaving her with a monster knight, an attack against the weak white king, plus an extra pawn as insurance. White resigned five moves later.

Zoya Schleining drew another one of the favourites, Aleksandra Goryachkina, but it took her 111 moves to do it! The two players contested one of the longest knight endings you will ever see.

 

This interesting diagram with all four knights lined up on the c-file occurred after just 27 moves. Only 84 to go!

At the second table: Zoya Schleining (left) against Goryachkina | Photo: ewcc2018.eu

The field of women's European championship is usually combative, and the draw rate so far is below 35%. Many games take a long time, but occasionally, there is a miniature, as in Charochkina 0-1 Bulmaga, where White got into trouble early on.

 

White's knight has no squares. If 22.Nh4 then ...Bb5 wins since the f1-rook can't leave the first rank, e.g. 23.Rxf7 Qe3+! will soon be mate.

In the game, 22.Ne5 was played, but the knight simply drops off after 22...Qd4+, and the game was over soon.

Top results of round three

Name Pts. Result Pts. Name
Mammadzada Gunay 2 ½ - ½ 2 Muzychuk Mariya
Shuvalova Polina 2 0 - 1 2 Dzagnidze Nana
Cornette Deimante 2 1 - 0 2 Hoolt Sarah
Kashlinskaya Alina 2 ½ - ½ 2 Ovod Evgenija
Zimina Olga 2 ½ - ½ 2 Buksa Nataliya
Ziaziulkina Nastassia 2 ½ - ½ 2 Nechaeva Marina
Gunina Valentina 1 - 0 2 Ilyuchyk Yana
Schleining Zoya ½ - ½ Goryachkina Aleksandra
Sebag Marie 1 - 0 Badelka Olga
Gara Anita ½ - ½ Khotenashvili Bela
Kovanova Baira 0 - 1 Paehtz Elisabeth
Osmak Iulija 0 - 1 Javakhishvili Lela
Mammadova Gulnar 0 - 1 Zawadzka Jolanta
Hoang Thanh Trang 1 - 0 Rapport Jovana
Savina Anastasia ½ - ½ Tsolakidou Stavroula

Games rounds 1-3

 

Translation from German: Macauley Peterson

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André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.
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