Kateryna! 16-year-old Ukrainian wins Women's Supertournament

8/3/2006 – Kateryna Lahno is one of the great contemporary talents in women's chess. At 13 she was the world's youngest WGM, and made a full (male) GM norm. After some years of mixed successes Katya has now won the North Urals Cup 2006, a full point ahead of her nearest rival. In the process she scored another GM norm with a 2700 performance. Big photo report.

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The North Urals Cup 2006 Women's Super-Tournament took place from July 22nd to August 1st in the main hall of the Bogoslovsky Aluminium Smelter’s Arts Palace in Krasnoturyinsk, Russia. Three of the participants were former Women's World Champions (and full grandmasters), the rest were IMs, except for Hou Yifan, who is just a WFM but with a very high rating.

Round five

Kateryna Lahno
1-0
Maia Chiburdanidze
Antoaneta Stefanova
0-1
Lilit Mkrtchian
Hou Yifan
0-1
Zhu Chen
Svetlana Matveeva
½-½
Viktorija Cmilyte
Tatiana Kosintseva
½-½
Nadezhda Kosintseva

Kateryna Lahno, playing today against the five-times world champion Maia Chiburdanidze, made another big step towards a tournament victory. The endgame, created by her own inspiration, could hardly have been saved by any grandmaster, male or female, in the world. That was the tournament’s fourth win in a row for the Ukrainian player!


Katya vs Chib: a key game between the young star and the veteran GM in round five

In an interview after the game Kateryna revealed her current great passion in life – classical Russian literature!


In love with – Russian literature: 16-year-old Kateryna Lahno

The formidable Chinese 12-year-old Hou Yifan was finally defeated. In a long game the endurance and steadfastness of her opponent Zhu Chen, the former Chinese world champion who today plays for Qatar, proved to be of a higher level. With another win Zhu Chen is just half a point behind the leading Kateryna Lahno.


Hou vs Zhu: the more experienced former world champion came out on top

Zhu Chen said afterwards that for the most part the game was balanced, but she kept looking for a winning continuation. At some moment Hou Yifan overreached, and in her time trouble the younger player could not resist the pressure exerted by her more experienced opponent. The two have played three games so far. The first, last year, was won by Zhu with white, the second was a draw.


Zhu Chen, born and raised in China, now playing for Qatar

Zhu Chen was born in a Shanghai suburb and her first chess teacher was a local coach, who taught her with great kindness and good humour. Zhu revealed that she had a happy childhood, very nice parents, and now she is also very happy in her marriage (to Qatari GM Mohamad Al-Modiakhi) and with their child. She believes that the family is the most important thing in life.


Tricks Lilit, who lured her opponent into a deadly trap

Lilit Mkrtchan finally managed to overcome a series of initial failures in this tournament. In a game with white against the very strong Antoaneta Stefanova she was able to lure her opponent into a well disguised and very deadly trap – a bishop capture on f2 with check. Later analysis showed errors on the side of the Armenian player as well, but Stefanova made another mistake which was final and decisive. Lilit was born in Erevan and taught to play chess by her grandfather. Her first coach was Norek Movsesyan.


The Kosintseva sisters, Nadezhda and Tatiana, after their game

The game Tatiana Kosintseva v Nadezhda Kosintseva ended in a quick draw, which can be expected in these “inter-family” duels. The other draw was in the game Svetlana Matveeva v Viktorija Cmilyte.

Standings after round five

Round six

Zhu Chen
½-½
Kateryna Lahno
Lilit Mkrtchian
1-0
Hou Yifan
Viktorija Cmilyte
½-½
Nadezhda Kosintseva
Svetlana Matveeva
0-1
Antoaneta Stefanova
Maia Chiburdanidze
½-½
Tatiana Kosintseva

The key game in round six was between the two leaders, Kateryna Lahno (4.5/5) and Zhu Chen (4.0/5). The latter chose a not very successful opening, and it was her adversary who played for a win, with the black pieces. However after 86 moves Kateryna had to settle for a repetition and a draw.

There were two decided games in this round of the tournament. Lilit Mkrtchan had a confident win over Hou Yifan, who has jumped to number eight in the FIDE women's ratings, but has not so far shown a spectacular performance: four draws, two losses and not a single win.


The winners of round six: Antoaneta Stefanova and Lilit Mkrtchan

Ex-champion Antoaneta Stefanova was both cunning and convincing when she converted an advantage in her game against Svetlana Matveeva into a full point. The other games ended in a draw.

Round seven

Kateryna Lahno
½-½
Lilit Mkrtchian
Tatiana Kosintseva
0-1
Zhu Chen
Nadezhda Kosintseva
½-½
Maia Chiburdanidze
Antoaneta Stefanova
0-1
Viktorija Cmilyte
Hou Yifan
½-½
Svetlana Matveeva

Zhu Chen beat Tatiana Kosintseva to catch up with Kateryna Lahno, who only got a draw against her good friend Lilit Mkrtchan. With just two rounds to go Lahno and Zhu Chen are a point and a half adhead of the field.


The battle field in round seven

Viktorija Cmilyte, representing the Baltic chess school, scroed against ex-champion Antoaneta Stefanova. Playing white Antoaneta as usual did not strive to gain a real advantage, in contrast to Viktorija Cmilyte, who responded sharply and with confidence to take a full point.


Sharp play is the way to success: Viktorija Cmilyte

Young Chinese Hou Yifan, playing Svetlana Matveeva, narrowly missed her first tournament victory. Unfortunately she missed the critical moment and allowed Svetlana to grab the draw.


Dying to play Fischer: Chinese super-talent Hou Yefan

In the press conference after the game the 12-year-old Hou Yifan said she was very upset with the result. She said that she plays much more confidently after winning her first game in a tournament. Hou said she would love to play against the strongest players in history, like Robert Fischer.

The game Nadezhda Kosintseva vs Maya Chiburdanidze ended in a draw by three-fold repetition.

Round eight

Svetlana Matveeva
0-1
Kateryna Lahno
Zhu Chen
0-1
Nadezhda Kosintseva
Lilit Mkrtchian
1-0
Tatiana Kosintseva
Viktorija Cmilyte
0-1
Maia Chiburdanidze
Antoaneta Stefanova
1-0
Hou Yifan

All games of round eight of the IV Women’s North Urals Cup 2006 were decided. The big news was the defeat of the solid and dispassionate Zhu Chen, who in a white game against Nadezhda Kosintseva chose an enterprising but hardly promising line in the Ragozin.


Key game for the final standings: Zhu Chen losing to Nadezhda Kosintseva

Nadezhda fought back with simple classic strokes and managed to win two pawns to follow with further crushing moves. White had to resign on move 26. The game was harsh revenge for sister Tatiana’s loss in the previous round against Zhu Chen.


The fighting spirit of Kateryna Lahno

Kateryna Lahno, playing black, seemed to have no particular difficulty in defeating Svetlana Matveeva, thus virtually securing for herself the overall tournament victory. All she needed now was a draw in the final round against Antoaneta Stefanova.


Former Women's World Champion Maia Chiburdanidze

Maia Chiburdanidze finally managed to show her advanced mastery in a game against Viktorija Cmilyte. The Lithuanian player responded quite unfortunately to Maia's opening novelty and provided her adversary with a second win in this tournament.


Concentrated and focussed all the way to mate: Lilit Mkrtchan

Lilit Mkrtchan beat Tatiana Kosintseva, who resigned facing a mate in two on the board. Antoaneta Stefanova needed more elaborate craftsmanship in her game against Hou Yifan, who overlooked a resolute shot by her opponent (23.Nxf6+). The three-pawn advantage was more than sufficient for Stefanova.

Round nine

Kateryna Lahno
½-½
Antoaneta Stefanova
Maia Chiburdanidze
½-½
Zhu Chen
Nadezhda Kosintseva
1-0
Lilit Mkrtchian
Tatiana Kosintseva
1-0
Svetlana Matveeva
Hou Yifan
½-½
Viktorija Cmilyte

Katja did it, she played an 11-move draw against former women's world champion Antoaneta Stefanova, to ensure an unshared first place in this strongest women's event of the year.


Kateryna Lahno wins the Urals Cup, best friend Lilit approaches to congratulate


Well done Katya, you are the greatest!

Since her closest rival, former world champion Zhu Chen, also made a 13-move draw against many times world champion Maia Chiburdanidze, Kateryna Lahno ended the tournament a full point clear of the field. Her score of 7.0/9, apart from being fairly sensational, amounts to a clear GM norm (6.03 points were required), and the performance was very close to Elo 2700.


Tatiana Kosintseva scored her only victory in this event against Svelnana Matveeva

12-year-old Hou Yifan pressed hard against Viktorija Cmilyte, but the experienced Lithuanian held firm and the game was drawn. Both the Kosintseva sisters won their games, which pushed the older one, Nadezhda, to third place on the final cross table.

Final standings


Winner Kateryna Lahno at the press conference


A 16-year-old with a 2700 performance: Katya Lahno from Ukraine


Second: Zhu Chen with a 2600 performance


Gaining experience: twelve-year-old Hou Yifan from China


Bad luck and form: fourth seed, IM Tatiana Kosintseva of Russia


Former Women's World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova

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