North Urals Cup: four ladies in the lead

7/30/2007 – It's Zhu and Katya and Zhao and Natalija (Chen, Lahno, Xue and Pogonina) who are leading in the super-strong women's event in Krasnoturinsk, Russia. With one round left all have 5.0/8 points and have cleared the rest of the field by a point and a half. All decisions will come in tomorrow's final round, which starts at 11 a.m. local time (translations given). Big illustrated report .

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The North Urals Cup 2007 is taking place from July 22 to 31 in Krasnoturinsk, Russia, in the Palace of Culture of of Bogoslovskiy Aluminium Smelter. The event is restricted to top female players and has an Elo average of 2478.

Round six


Antoaneta Stefanova vs Hou Yifan in round six

The tournament youngster (but top seed), 13-year-old Hou Yifan playing black, defeated former women's world champion Antoaneta Stafanova, who lost her second game in a row. The game lasted 36 moves.


Former world champion Zhu Chen in her game against Alisa Galliamova

Hou's compatriot Zhu Chen, a former world champion who now lives in Qatar, dealt similarly with Alisa Galliamova, defeating the former world championship challenger in an impressive game that lasted 49 moves.


A candidate to win this event: Kateryna Lahno of Ukraine

Kateryna Lahno, on the white side of a Sicilian Dragon, defeated the leading Natalija (yes, that's the official spelling) Pogonina. Last year Katya won the event, so people are watching her progress in this year's tournament very carefully.

If you want to replay a see-saw cliff-hanger game check out the Battle of the Annas: Ushenina and Muzychuk. Elisabeth Pähtz tried to continue her comeback, but in spite of an extra pawn and central domination she could only manage a draw against Zhao Xue.

Round seven

The game of the day was the super-aggressive encounter Zhu Chen vs Elisabeth Pähtz, which at different stages looked very dangerous for Black and for White. Around move 40 Elisabeth was two pawns up and must have surely have been winning, but somehow the former world champion wiggled out of it and the game was drawn.


The hostilities between Elisabeth Pähtz and Zhu Chen are about to begin


Round seven in Krasnoturinsk under way


Qatari Zhu Chen, who was in brought into mortal danger by ...


... the super-aggressive play of her opponent Elisabeth Pähtz

A similar fate was in store for Anna Muzychuk, who was two pawns up against Antoaneta Stefanova but had to concede a 94-move draw.


Anna Muzychuk vs Antoaneta Stefanova in round seven

Katerina Lahno with black played the Pirc Ufimtsev against Hou Yifan, put pressure on her young opponent and was able to mate her in 36 moves (two to mate).


Preparing to mate the kid: Kateryna Lahno vs Hou Yifan

Zhao Xue defeated Anna Ushenina after a pawn sacrifice in the opening, for which her Ukrainian opponent gave an exchange.


Was it the shirt? Zhao Xue dominated her opponent Anna Ushenina

The all-Russian duel Pogonina-Galliamova ended in the second straight defeat for the Alisa Galliamova and a place in the top slot for Natalija Pogonina.


Internal Russian affairs: Natalija Pogonina vs Alisa Galliamova

Round eight

Natalija Pogonina outplayed her Chinese opponent Hou Yifan to get a winning knight and pawn ending. In the final position of the game, as delivered to us in PGN, she dropped the win with a one-move blunder, but we must assume the notation is wrong, since Hou immediately resigned. She is now in second-last place and displaying a performance that is 137 points below her nominal Elo rating, the highest in the field.


Nataiya

Elisabeth Pähtz, on the black side of an English Opening, was completely winning against Alisa Galliamova. But the German underestimated the threat of her opponent's a-pawn (or overestimated the strength of her two connected passed pawns) and actually lost in a very traumatic turn-around. The game lasted 77 moves.


The start of a long and traumatic game between Alisa Galliamova and Elisabeth Pähtz


Yes, Lizzy, chess is a tough, remorseless business

After a promising start Antoaneta Stefanova lost track in her game against Zhao Xue and went down in flames in a rook ending with a pawn less on the board.


Antoaneta Stefanova vs Zhao Xue (hopefully readers are learning to read the Cyrillic signs)


An important game that ended in a 33-move draw: Kateryna Lahno vs Anna Muzychuk

All pictures provided by Vadim Smalkov

Standings after eight rounds

The final round will be played on Tuesday, July 31, 2007. The big battle will of course be Zhao Xue (white) vs Kateryna Lahno, while Zhu Chen will have the white pieces against Antoaneta Stefanova, and Natalija Pogonina black against Anna Muzychuk. It will be an exciting day. Note that games will begin at 11:00 a.m. local time, which is 7 a.m. European time, 6 a.m. London and one a.m. NY. Chess enthusiasts in California can catch the games on the previous day (i.e. tonight) at 10 p.m. That is the advantage when you live in the future.

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