Plovdiv Rd10: Going for the gold

by Albert Silver
7/17/2014 – The game of the round, and possibly deciding once and for all the European Women's title, was between Valentina Gunina and Tatiana Kosintseva. Both women knew each other's game extremely well, having competed side-by- side in the 2012 Olympiad where they lifted the gold. In spite of other higher profile games also being played during the day, this tense game was thrilling to watch.

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15th European Individual Women’s Chess Championship

This event, organised by the Bulgarian Chess Federation under the auspices of the European Chess Union, is being held in the Plovdiv Hall of the Novotel Hotel in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, from July 5 (day of arrival) until July 18 (day of departure) 2014. The tournament is open to all players from chess federations which are members of the European Chess Union (FIDE zones 1.1 to 1.10), regardless of title or rating. There is also no limit in the number of participants per federation. The European Individual Women’s Championship 2014 is a qualification event for the next World Cup, for which 14 players will qualify.

The competition

The championship is an eleven-round Swiss. The rate of play is 90 minutes for 40 moves plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move, starting from move one. Players may only agree to a draw after the 40th move has been made by Black. Players violating this rule will be forfeited. If a player is offered a draw before the 40th move she should call an arbiter. Her opponent shall be punished for distracting, according to the FIDE Laws of Chess. The zero–tolerance rule will be applied: players who are not seated at the board at the start of a round forfeit the game.

Round ten

Chess books: the love of every chess player

For Tatiana Kosintseva it was a do-or-die situation, since she trailed Gunina by a full point, and anything less than a victory would literally ensure the title for Valentina.  

The two leaders played an exciting game well worthy of the occasion

[Event "15th ch-EUR w 2014"] [Site "Plovdiv BUL"] [Date "2014.07.16"] [Round "10.1"] [White "Gunina, Valentina"] [Black "Kosintseva, Tatiana"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E60"] [WhiteElo "2501"] [BlackElo "2476"] [PlyCount "147"] [EventDate "2014.07.06"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. g3 c5 5. d5 b5 {If there were any doubts as to Black's intentions, they were laid to rest with this move. The Benko is a belligerent opening.} 6. cxb5 a6 7. bxa6 {White takes up the gauntlet} d6 8. Nc3 O-O 9. Bg2 Nbd7 10. O-O Nb6 11. e4 Bxa6 12. Re1 Nfd7 13. Qc2 Nc4 14. Bf4 Qa5 15. Rac1 Rfb8 16. b3 Nce5 17. Red1 Nxf3+ 18. Bxf3 c4 {Both players show exceptional preparation as they follow a game between Ruck-Ehlvest from 2001.} 19. Ne2 (19. bxc4 Bxc4 20. Ne2 Bb5 21. Nd4 Ba4 22. Nb3 Qb4 23. Qd2 Qa3 24. Rc7 Ne5 25. Bxe5 Bxe5 26. Rb1 Bf6 27. Kg2 h5 28. h4 Be8 29. Rc2 Kg7 30. Qd3 Rb4 31. Rd1 Qa7 32. Rb1 Rab8 33. Rd1 Ra4 34. Qd2 Ra8 35. Nc1 Ra3 36. Be2 Ba4 37. Nb3 Bd7 38. Bf3 Rxa2 39. Rxa2 Qxa2 40. Qxa2 Rxa2 41. Rd2 Ra4 42. Nc1 Bc3 43. Rc2 Ba5 44. Ne2 Kf6 45. Nf4 Bb6 46. Nh3 Kg7 47. Ng5 Bd4 48. Rc7 Ra7 49. Rxa7 Bxa7 50. Be2 Ba4 51. Bd3 Bb3 52. Bb5 f5 53. Bd3 Kf6 54. f4 Bb6 55. Nh7+ Kg7 56. Ng5 Kf6 57. Nh7+ Kg7 58. Ng5 Kf6 {1/2-1/2 (58) Ruck,R (2557)-Ehlvest,J (2630) Ohrid 2001}) 19... Nc5 20. Rb1 Nd3 {Both ladies also begin to play quite slowly here, suggesting they were out of their preparation, if indeed it had extended this far.} 21. Bd2 $2 {A mistake that gives Black the initiative.} ( 21. Be3 Nb4 22. Qd2 Qxa2 {would have maintained the balance.}) 21... Qa3 22. Be3 {Diagram [#]} Nb2 $1 {Superb. At first sight this knight looks strange on b2, a less than obvious square to place it, but it is a colossal thorn in White's side. Not only it is well guarded but it cuts off the rook on b1 from protecting its charge on b3.} 23. Bc1 cxb3 24. axb3 Rxb3 25. Nd4 Bxd4 {Forced since it not only attacked the rook on b3, but cut off the bishop on g7 from protecting the knight.} 26. Rxd4 Rc8 27. Qd2 {Diagram [#]} Rd3 $2 {Argh. Black had seemed headed to a brilliant win that might have changed the fate of the title, but this throws it away.} ({The right continuation was} 27... Qa2 $1 28. Rxb2 {Forced.} (28. Bxb2 $4 Qxb1+) 28... Rxc1+ 29. Qxc1 Rxb2 {and the infiltration on the second rank means nothing but trouble for White.}) 28. Rxd3 Qxd3 29. Qxd3 Nxd3 30. Be3 Ne5 31. Bg2 Kg7 $2 {They say mistakes never come alone, and now Black errs again, placing herself in harm's way.} 32. f4 Nd3 33. Rb6 Bc4 34. Rc6 $1 Rxc6 35. dxc6 Nb4 36. c7 Ba6 37. Bf1 $2 {Both players are starting to show nerves, and fatigue.} (37. Bh3 e6 38. Bc1 Nc2 39. Bb2+ Kf8 40. Bf1 Bc8 41. Bd3 Ne1 42. Bb5 {and Black's king is cutoff.}) 37... Bc8 38. Bb5 Kf6 39. Kf2 e5 40. Bb6 exf4 41. gxf4 Ke7 42. Ba5 Na6 43. Ke3 {White appears to have an edge, but there is no way to force it.} Nc5 44. Bb4 Na6 45. Bxa6 Bxa6 { The opposite colored bishops make the result clear now.} 46. e5 Kd7 47. exd6 Bc4 48. Kd4 Be6 49. Ke5 h5 50. h4 Bf5 51. Kf6 Ke8 52. Bc3 Be6 53. Kg7 Bd7 54. Bf6 Be6 55. Be7 Bd7 56. Kf6 Be6 57. Ke5 Kd7 58. Kd4 Kc6 59. Ke4 Kd7 60. Ke5 Kc6 61. Kf6 Kd7 62. Kg7 Ke8 63. Bf6 Bd7 64. Bd4 Be6 65. Bc5 Bd7 66. Ba3 Be6 67. Kf6 Bf5 68. Ke5 Kd7 69. Kd5 Be6+ 70. Kc5 Bf5 71. Kb6 Kc8 72. Bb2 Bg4 73. Kc6 Bd7+ 74. Kd5 1/2-1/2

Despite clear chances to win, and moments of brilliance, full credit must also be given to White for resisting to the end, and ultimately even creating her own winning chances. The split point leaves Gunina still in the driver's seat with 8.5/10, and a full point lead, virtually guaranteeing gold tomorrow.

At 7.5/10, all with near 2600 performances, are Natalia Zhukova, Salome Melia, Mariya Muzychuk, and Tatiana Kosintseva. In the last round, IM Mariya Muzychuk will have her chance at breaking Gunina's invincibility.

The organizers and arbiters responsible for a smooth running tournament

Photos by Boyan Botev

Standings after round ten

Rk SNo Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts
1 4 GM Gunina Valentina RUS 2501 8.5
2 16 GM Zhukova Natalia UKR 2451 7.5
3 14 IM Melia Salome GEO 2454 7.5
4 2 IM Muzychuk Mariya UKR 2521 7.5
5 8 GM Kosintseva Tatiana RUS 2476 7.5
6 22 IM Batsiashvili Nino GEO 2417 7.0
7 1 GM Dzagnidze Nana GEO 2541 7.0
8 7 GM Stefanova Antoaneta BUL 2488 7.0
9 19 WGM Kashlinskaya Alina RUS 2441 7.0
10 11 IM Khurtsidze Nino GEO 2460 7.0
11 12 GM Danielian Elina ARM 2458 7.0
12 9 IM Javakhishvili Lela GEO 2474 6.5
13 28 IM Foisor Cristina-Adela ROU 2383 6.5
14 18 IM Mkrtchian Lilit ARM 2446 6.5
15 33 WGM Szczepkowska-Horowska Karina POL 2369 6.5
16 6 GM Hoang Thanh Trang HUN 2490 6.5
17 10 GM Socko Monika POL 2462 6.5
18 21 IM Bodnaruk Anastasia RUS 2429 6.5
19 25 WGM Daulyte Deimante LTU 2405 6.5
20 5 WGM Girya Olga RUS 2493 6.0
21 53 WGM Nikolova Adriana BUL 2303 6.0
22 13 IM Paehtz Elisabeth GER 2456 6.0
23 23 IM Arabidze Meri GEO 2406 6.0
24 20 WGM Goryachkina Aleksandra RUS 2434 6.0
25 36 IM Gvetadze Sofio GEO 2356 6.0
26 42 WGM Kochetkova Julia SVK 2333 6.0
27 32 WGM Charochkina Daria RUS 2375 6.0
28 24 IM Milliet Sophie FRA 2406 6.0

Click for complete standings


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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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