Monaco GP: Goryachkina increases her lead

by Shahid Ahmed
12/13/2019 – Mariya Muzychuk held Goryachkina to a draw, despite the former getting an advantage in the opening. Humpy suffered her first loss of the tournament against Paehtz. Thus, Goryachkina took a full-point sole lead. Harika made a short draw with Lagno. Both Humpy and Harika are now tied at second place. Cramling, Kosteniuk, Lagno and Anna Muzychuk are at tied fourth place. Gunina lost her sixth consecutive game, this time against Dzagnidze. | Photo: Karol Bartnik / FIDE

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Goryachkina takes a full point lead

Round nine witnessed only two decisive results and four draws, as Goryachkina was held to a draw by Mariya Muzychuk. Humpy lost against Paehtz, which means no one is undefeated in the tournament any more. All twelve players have lost at least one game in this event.

Mariya Muzychuk holds Goryachkina to a draw

Mariya said, "For a second, I [was] happy because I got the better position after the opening. I won a pawn but it wasn't easy to convert it in the endgame". 


Goryachkina's 11...d6 allowed White to gain a tempo with 12.e4. After 12...c7 13.c3 a6 14.f3 White got in command in the opening.


A much-needed 15.♘d2 forced Black to play 15...♛d6 16.♘c4 ♛e7 and White just gained a few more tempi.


It is evident from this position that Black completely misplayed the opening. And White seized the opportunity. Black had to do something, so Goryachkina went with 25...f5 to make way for her pieces and give them some breathing room. White had to take with 26.gxf5 xh4 27.h5 maintaining the grip.


After a whole lot of pieces were exchanged, White gained a pawn and reached an endgame with two rooks, a bishop and four pawns per side.


White should have probably taken the h5-pawn with 35.♗xh5 ♜xf2 36.a3. Keeping both rooks on the board and trying to gain an entry on the seventh rank seemed like the best chance for her.


Mariya Muzychuk talks about her game | Video: FIDE

Paehtz surprises Humpy

In a post-game analysis, Paehtz revealed that she did not prepare the Averbakh Variation. She remembers 6...a6 being suggested a few years back, as it is tricky and Black is waiting to see what White will do. 


Paehtz said, "If I were White, I would have played 10.♗e3".


Humpy played a strange-looking 14.b4, which completely misplaced the knight and eventually set things in motion in favour of Black.


Allowing Black to play 14...d4 and then 15.d1 xc4 16.cd5 xd5 17.xc8 xc8 .It was just completely over for White.


Paehtz took Humpy by surprise | Photo: Karol Bartnik / FIDE

Lagno vs Harika, a short draw

Kateryna Lagno signed a short draw — in just 26 moves — against Harika Dronavalli.


Harika and Gunina take a trip down memory lane | Video: FIDE

Cramling gave some chances

Anna Muzychuk got a clear advantage in the middlegame, but she could not maintain it. 


White needed to take the pawn with 20.axb6 first and then go for 21.f4, but she went for 20.f4 right away


White has complete domination in the position. Find out the best continuation for White.

25.♘ec3 ♛c8 26.♗f3

But White went for 25.a3 instead, allowing Cramling to take the c2-pawn — the Swedish grandmaster took it with 25...xc2. Thus, White's advantage evaporated. A draw was agreed after 31 moves, when Black was on the verge of losing the queen for a rook and knight.


Kosteniuk vs Zhao, a well-fought draw

In the game between Kosteniuk and Zhao, both tried to one-up each other, but equality was maintained throughout the game. A draw was agreed after 42 moves in an equal rook and minor piece endgame.


Zhao fought well | Photo: Karol Bartnik / FIDE

Gunina loses her sixth consecutive game

Gunina's first mistake in the game was giving up a pawn for nothing.


White made the incorrect decision of recapturing the pawn with the knight 11.xd4. Better was 11.♕xd4 c5 12.♕c3 ♝b7 13.♖e1.


White is down by two pawns and her pieces are not well-placed either. Trapping her own knight with 15.c7 was certainly not a good idea. Find out the best continuation for White.


Soon things went way out of hand for White and it was just a matter of time and technique for Dzagnidze to convert it into a win.


Dzagnidze talks about her tournament so far | Video: FIDE

The eleven-round event continues on Friday. The games start at 14:00 UTC (15:00 CET).

Pairings of Round 9


Standings after Round 9


All games and commentary


Live commentary by GM Iossif Dorfman and IM Almira Skripchenko along with WGM Keti Tsatsalashvili | Video: FIDE


Shahid Ahmed is the senior coordinator and editor of ChessBase India. He enjoys covering chess tournaments and also likes to play in chess events from time to time.


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