North Urals R2: Stefanova leads 2-0, Humpy slumps with 0-2

7/28/2008 – Shocking: top seed and second strongest female player in the world, GM Koneru Humpy of India, lost her first two games in the North Urals Cup. On the other hand former World Women's Champion Antoaneta Stefanova won both her games to take the lead in in this strongest women's event in history. We bring you games, results, interviews, and a spectacular pictorial by Vadim Smalkov.

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Report after round two

The North Urals Cup is taking place from July 26th - August 3rd 2008 in Krasnoturinsk, Russia. It is the strongest women's tournament ever, with the players Xu Yuhua (China), Humpy Koneru (India), Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria), Pia Cramling (Sweden), Marie Sebag (France), Anna Muzychuk (Slovenia), Anna Ushenina (Ukraine) and Natalya Pogonina (Russia).

Round 1: Sunday, July 27, 2008
Pia Cramling 
½-½
 Anna Muzychuk
Xu Yuhua 
½-½
 Marie Sebag
Koneru Humpy 
0-1
 Antoaneta Stefanova
Natalija Pogonina 
½-½
 Anna Ushenina
Round 2: Monday, July 28, 2008
Anna Muzychuk 
0-1
 Anna Ushenina
Antoaneta Stefanova 
1-0
 Natalija Pogonina
Marie Sebag 
1-0
 Koneru Humpy
Pia Cramling 
0-1
 Xu Yuhua

The big shock in the first two rounds was the double loss of top seed and second highest ranked player in the world: Koneru Humpy played a couple of dubious moves against Antoaneta Stefanova and lost with the white pieces against the former Women's World Champion. Then, in the second round, Humpy was outplayed by France's Marie Sebag and fell to an advanced a-pawn.

Koneru,H (2622) - Stefanova,A (2550) [D45]
5th North Urals Cup Krasnoturinsk RUS (1), 27.07.2008
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 a6 6.b3 Bb4 7.Bd2 Nbd7 8.Bd3 0-0 9.0-0 Qe7 10.Qe1 a5 11.a3 Bd6 12.c5 Bc7 13.e4 e5 14.exd5 cxd5 15.Nb5 Bb8 16.dxe5 Ne4 17.Bxa5 Nxe5 18.Nxe5 Bxe5

19.Ra2?! Nxc5 20.Bb1? Bd7 21.Nc7 Rxa5 22.Qxa5 Qd6 23.f4 Qxc7 24.Qd2 Bf6 25.Qc2 g6 26.b4 Bd4+ 27.Kh1 Bf5 28.Qd2 Bxb1 29.Rxb1 Ne6 30.f5 gxf5 31.Rc2 Qd6 32.Re1 Bg7 33.Qd3 f4 34.Rec1 Qd7 35.b5 Nd4 36.Rb2 Re8 37.Rb4 Qe6 38.Rf1 Ne2 39.b6 d4 40.Qb5 Qe3 41.Rb3 Nc3 42.Qd7 Qe2 43.Rg1 d3 44.Rb2 Qe3 45.Rf1 Ne2 46.Rb3 Re6 0-1.

The drawn games on day one were tough, uncompromising battles. On the second day the ladies pulled out their killer instincts and there was blood on all the boards. Antoaneta Stefanova appears to be in excellent form and won a second game to retain the sole lead.

The tournament bulletin says: "Pia Cramling was pressing the world champion Xu Yuhua during the whole match. The position of white in the middle game looked as overwhelming. Xu Yuhua playing black had to defend her exposed king. And though white monarch was in the centre of the board it was in quite a confident position. Pia opened the lines on the king's field and attacked. Xu Yuhua had to demonstrate her imagination and persistent defense and the patience brought a positive result to her. Cramling began to make mistakes, and world champion on the contrary used all chances that appeared. The balance turned to the opposite side and the Chinese player gained her first victory. Nobody could think that this match would end in such a way."

Cramling,P (2544) - Xu Yuhua (2483) [E12]
5th North Urals Cup Krasnoturinsk RUS (2), 28.07.2008
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 b6 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Qb3 c5 6.Bg5 Bb7 7.a3 Ba5 8.dxc5 Na6 9.c6 dxc6 10.Qc2 c5 11.Rd1 Qc7 12.e3 Be4 13.Bd3 Bxd3 14.Rxd3 0-0 15.Bxf6 gxf6 16.Ke2 Bxc3 17.Qxc3 Qe7 18.Nd2 f5 19.g4 fxg4 20.h3 f5 21.Qe5 Rad8 22.Rxd8 Rxd8 23.hxg4 Qd7 24.Qc3 Qg7 25.gxf5 exf5 26.Qc2 Rf8 27.Nf3 Kh8 28.Rh5 h6 29.Qd2 Nc7 30.Qd6 Rf6 31.Qd8+ Kh7 32.Qd3 Qg6 33.Rh3 Ne6 34.Ne5 Qe8 35.f4 Qd8 36.Qc2 Ng7 37.Rh1 Qa8 38.Rg1 Qe4 39.Qxe4 fxe4 40.Rd1 h5 41.Rd7 a5 42.Nf7 h4 43.Kf2 Kg6 44.Ng5 Nf5 45.Nxe4 Re6

46.Ng5? Rxe3 47.Nf3 Rb3 48.Ne5+ Kf6 49.Rd2 Ng3 50.Kg2 Kf5 51.Nf3 Kg4 52.Ne5+ Kxf4 53.Ng6+ Kg5 54.Ne5 h3+ 55.Kg1 Re3 56.Rd5 Nf5 57.Nd3 Re2 0-1.

The tournament bulletin reports: "The predicted Karo-Kann appeared in the match of two namesakes and compatriots Anna Muzychuk and Anna Ushenina. Muzychuk playing white got the advantage in the opening and was expanding it till the catastrophe suddenly happened. In two moves Anna (now representing Slovenia) lost a piece. She missed the moment when the enemy pawn attacked her queen, which was the only defendant of the Bishop on c4. All the rest was the matter of technique and Ushenina showed it. The only thing we can do now is to hope that this chess 'incident' will not affect other matches of the tournament youngest player."

Muzychuk,A (2504) - Ushenina,A (2476) [B12]
5th North Urals Cup Krasnoturinsk RUS (2), 28.07.2008
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.dxc5 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Bb5 e6 7.b4 Nge7 8.Nbd2 g6 9.h3 Bxf3 10.Nxf3 Bg7 11.Rb1 0-0 12.Bf4 a5 13.a3 Qc7 14.0-0 axb4 15.axb4 Rfb8 16.c4 Rd8 17.Qe2 dxc4 18.Qxc4 Nxe5 19.Qe4 Nxf3+ 20.Qxf3 e5 21.Bg5 h6 22.Be3 f5 23.Rfd1 Nc6 24.h4 e4 25.Qf4 Ne5 26.Bc4+ Kh8

On her previous move Anna Muzychuk had moved her bishop from b5 to c6, giving check. Black could not take the bishop with the knight, which is pinned against the unprotected black queen on c7. Now Muzychuk forgets the duty her queen has and plays 27.h5? This allows 27...g5, dislodging the queen and leaving the bishop unguarded. 28.Qxf5 Nxc4 29.Qxe4 Nxe3. With two pawns for a piece Anna Muzychuk is on the path to defeat. 30.Qxe3 Qf7 31.Rd6 Re8 32.Qd3 Re7 33.Qg6 Qa2 34.Rbd1 Rf8 35.R6d2 Re1+ 36.Kh2 Qe6 37.Qxe6 Rxe6 38.Rd7 b6 39.Rb7 bxc5 40.bxc5 Rxf2 41.Rdd7 Bf8 42.Rd8 Kg8 43.Rb6 Rff6 44.Rbb8 Rc6 45.Rbc8 Rxc8 46.Rxc8 Rf5 47.c6 Rc5 48.Kg3 Rc4 49.Kf3 Kf7 50.Ke3 Bd6 51.Kd3 Rc1 52.Ke4 Ke6 53.Rh8 Rc4+ 54.Kd3 Rxc6 55.Rxh6+ Kf5 56.Rg6 Rc1 57.Ke3 Bf4+ 58.Kf2 Kg4 59.h6 Rc2+ 60.Kf1 Rc1+ 61.Kf2 Bg3+ 62.Ke2 Re1+ 63.Kd3 Bf4 64.h7 Rh1 65.Rg7 Kg3 66.Ke4 Kxg2 67.Kf5 Kf3 68.Rb7 g4 69.Rb1 Rh5+ 70.Kg6 Rh2 71.Rb3+ Ke4 72.Rb4+ Kf3 73.Rb3+ Be3 74.Kg7 Ke4 75.Kg8 Bd4 76.Rg3 Kf4 77.Rd3 Be5 78.Rd7 g3 79.Rf7+ Ke4 0-1.

Current standings


Press conference with the winners of the second round

After the most decisive round in “North Urals Cup” history there was a press conference with the winners Xu Yuhua, Marie Sebag and Anna Ushenina. Vladimir Georgiev, the coach of tournament leader Antoaneta Stefanova, spoke in her place.

Q: Can you say some words about your victory today?

Marie Sebag: This victory was not easy for me, it only looked that way.

Xu Yuhua: Today I had to defend a lot, and I can say that only my opponent’s mistakes helped me to win.

Anna Ushenina: My game was very difficult too. Anna made a terrible mistake owing to which I managed to win. But before it my position was extremely complicated.

Vladimir Georgiev: I am glad to see you again and hope that I'll be at the winners' press conferences many times. Antoaneta managed to get an advantageous position, but already in the endgame with the extra pawn she had some technical problems. She managed to solve them to our pleasure.

Anna, what do you think made Anna Muzychuk make such a terrible mistake?

Anna Ushenina: Both of us were in time trouble, and I think that she so to say missed the moment. It is difficult to control everything when you are short of time.

Marie how are you today and did you manage finally to recover after the long journey?

Marie Sebag: Of course I was very tired after such a long trip, but I had some rest and now I am okay.

How do you prepare for the match?

Marie Sebag: I have to prepare at night because my coach is in France and there is a time difference.

Anna Ushenina: I train with my computer, look through my opponents' games and plan possible openings.

Vladimir Georgiev: Surely we use a computer, chess programs and databases of games, as all professional chess players do.

Was your preparation useful today?

Anna Ushenina: Anna Muzychuk plays various openings and it is not so easy to prepare. That is why I was ready for everything.

Vladimir Georgiev: Natalya Pogonina always repeats the same openings. So we managed to surprise her today. I think our preparation was useful.

Xu Yuhua: I prepared quite a long variation, but in the middlegame I made the wrong move, not the one which was on my board the previous day. I just forgot how I was going to play.


Photo gallery by Vadim Smalkov


The President of the Sverdlovsk Chess Federation, Anatoliy Sysoev, makes the first move in the game Koneru Humpy vs Antoaneta Stefanova


GM Antoaneta Stefanova, former Women's World Champion


GM Koneru Humpy, second strongest female player in history


French talent IM Marie Sebag


A king on her chest: IM Anna Ushenina from Ukraine


Swedish perennial GM Pia Cramling


Russian WGM Natalija Pogonina


Women's World Champion GM Xu Yuhua from China


Start of the second round game between Pia Cramling and Xu Yuhua (Xu won)


Round two game Natalija Pogonina vs Antoaneta Stefanova (Stefanova won)


The playing area of the strongest women's tournament ever, in Krasnoturinsk


Round two with Cramling-Xu Yuhua (front) and Sebag-Humpy

All photos copyright Vadim Smalkov for the official site

Links

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