Nalchik Women's GP – Zhao Xue and Ju Wenjun take early lead

by ChessBase
10/10/2011 – The third stage of FIDE Women's Grand Prix cycle 2011-2012 is being staged in Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria. There are twelve titled players participating, including nine GMs, though neither Women's world champion Hou Yifan nor Koneru Humpy are playing as they prepare for their world title match in November. Zhao Xue and Ju Wenjun have taken the early lead.

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The third stage of FIDE Women's Grand Prix cycle 2011-2012 is being staged from 8th to 23rd of October in Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, in the Hotel Sindika. The playing days are October 9-12, 14-17, 19-21, the rounds start at 15.00h Moscow time (13:00h CEST, 7 a.m. New York)..

There are twelve titled players participating, including nine GMs. Women's world champion Hou Yifan is not one of them, nor is her challenger Koneru Humpy – the two will play the title match in November. The following are the participants in Nalchik (in rating order and with Wiki links):

Nadezhda Kosintseva 
Katerina Lahno
Tatiana Kosintseva  
Ju Wenjun
Antoaneta Stefanova
Viktorija Cmilyte
Alisa Galliamova
Zhao Xue
Zhu Chen
Alexandra Kosteniuk
Munguntuul Batkhuyag
Ekaterina Kovalevskaya

Opening ceremony

Each of the countries is represented

Kirsan gives a speech during the opening

The players in the audience during the opening ceremony

There was a dance with children in costumes, but what is with those giant blonde afros?

A couple of princesses

Ju Wenjun, Tatiana Kosintseva, Kateryna Lahno and Nadezhda Kosintseva during
the drawing of lots.

The sumptuous playing hall

Round 1 – Sunday, October 9th, 2011

Zhu Chen - Kosteniuk Alexandra
The game was an Open Catalan. Zhu Chen expected the line that appeared, but actually forgot the main variation. After 10...f6, Zhu Chen lost a lot of time and get into trouble. Alexandra played very confidently and on move 36, Zhu Chen lost the game on time.

During the press-conference Alexandra said that she was a bit surprised by the Catalan, but decided to repeat the same line from her game against Natalia Zhukova. Zhu Chen on her side told the audience that of course she expected the variation chosen by Alexandra Kosteniuk, but forgot the line.

Zhao Xue – Cmilyte Viktorija
The game was an unusual King's Indian structure in which 12. ..f5 hurt Black’s pawn structure which White exploited. Viktorija made another mistake by moving the queen to f6 and Zhao Xue immediately transferred the knight to g3. It turned out that it’s pretty hard to defend the position.

Zhao Xue defeated European Women's Champion, Viktorija Cmilyte

In the press-conference Zhao Xue was very satisfied with her game. She said that after move 12. ... f5 the ideas seemed to be very clear and she had no problems findig the plan to transfer the knight to g3. Viktorija agreed that f5 wasn’t the best choice and added that another mistake was to develop the Queen on f6, where the Queen was poorly positioned.

Stefanova Antoaneta – Kosintseva Tatiana
This game turned out very fortunate for Tatiana, because she lost some tempi after the opening and Black’s position was very bad. Instead of move 31.g5 Antoaneta could have played 31.Kg2 giving more problems and leading to a large advantage. In the mutual time trouble, both girls lacked time to calculate and after the time control the position was already drawn.

Bulgarian Antoaneta Stefanova with a twinkle in her eyes

On the question “What problems did you face in the opening?” Tatiana answered that she had probably wasted too much time with the knight transfer from h5 (maybe this wasn’t the right decision) and had been too slow with her pieces.

Munguntuul Bathuyag – Kovalevskaya Ekaterina
The girls played a very accurate Sicilian Chelyabinsk and after 18. ... d5, the knights were traded leading to equality and eventually a drawn rook ending.

In the press-conference, Munguntuul said that she had been playing this line for a long time and that she liked it.

Lahno Kateryna – Galliamova Alisa
White chose the English opening and Alisa reacted with the very interesting novelty 6. ... b6. Alisa continued over-optimistically, but ended in a three-fold repetition in mutual time trouble.

During the press-conference Alisa seemed to be in a great mood and very satisfied with the result. Kateryna told the journalists that she hadn’t expected the line with 6. ... b6, but had tried to find the best decision. Asked about her lead after the two previous stages, she replied, “It’s ok, but there are still many Grand Prix stages ahead!

Kosintseva Nadezhda – Ju Wenjun

Ju Wenjun is pensive before the game

This game turned out to be the real thriller of the round. Black played a Najdorf and Nadezhda achieved a totally winning position after Black’s slip on move 19. However, after a critical mistake by White (25.Qf1) the position became equal once again whereas 25.Rh2! would have sealed the result. Maybe losing her concentration, White lost the thread, and finally lost the game.

Nadezhda was still recovering from the reversal she suffered during the game

In the press-conference both of the opponents seemed to be very sad, especially Nadezhda. Ju Wenjun agreed that she was pretty lucky in this game. Nadezhda told the audience that she hadn’t known the whole variation till the end in the opening, but she understood that the position had been great and maybe simply won.


Round 2 – Monday, October 10th, 2011

Photographers enjoy the chance to take pictures of the players

Viktorija Cmilyte provides a Mona Lisa smile

Two chess players from China - Zhao Xue and Ju Wenjun – have each won two victories after the first rounds of the tournament. On Monday, Zhao Xue with black defeated Alexandra Kosteniuk from Russia. This was also the quickest win of the second round, and the former world champion was far from her best and was soon lost.

Kateryna Lahno gives a radiant smile

Ju Wenjun on her end defeated Antoaneta Stefanova from Bulgaria. In the post match press conference, the Bulgarian said she had blundered almost everything in this game, but even in the endgame had had good opportunities to save the draw.

The other games ended in draws. After two rounds Ju Wenjun and Zhao Xue lead with 2.0/2 each.

Pictures by official website


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 11 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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