Plovdiv Rd9: The final challenge

by Albert Silver
7/16/2014 – All it took was a draw. With Valentina Gunina running away with the European Women's Championship, focus began to be made on the runners up, after all, there is only so much one can say about a one-horse race. In round nine, Gunina was finally forced to accede to a draw by rival Salome Melia from Georgia, and this alone injected the fight for first with new life.

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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 nine

Make no mistake, the Russian still leads by a full point with 8.0/9 and only two rounds to go, but a single loss to one of her rivals could change the dynamic on its head.

Salome Melia is one of the trailers with 7.0/9 and has a 2641 performance

One of the players to move up the ladder is Ukrainian GM Natalia Zhukova, who defeated Hungarian GM Hoang Thanh Trang to move to second at 7.0/9, however her loss to the leader in round seven means actually snatching the trophy from her is a tall order. Gunina's biggest and possibly final challenge will come in round ten, when she faces Tatiana Kosintseva, who won her game with a nice finale:

Javakhishvili - Kosintseva

Black finished with 1...Nf3+! and White resigned in view of 2.Bxf3 Bh2+
3.Kh1 Rxf1 mate or 2.Kh1 Rxf1+ 3.Bxf1 Rh2 mate!

Tatiana Kosintseva will have her chance to change the tide in the next round

However, if nice finales are the subject, then do not miss Antoaneta Stefanova's spectacular conclusion against Zoya Schleining:

[Event "15th ch-EUR w 2014"] [Site "Plovdiv BUL"] [Date "2014.07.15"] [Round "9.7"] [White "Stefanova, Antoaneta"] [Black "Schleining, Zoya"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E70"] [WhiteElo "2488"] [BlackElo "2376"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r3q1k1/1b2rpbp/n2p1np1/p2P4/PppBPP2/4NQNP/1PB3P1/R2R2K1 b - - 0 23"] [PlyCount "34"] [EventDate "2014.07.06"] 23... Rc8 {Diagram [#]} 24. Nef5 $3 {After a flawless buildup, White finishes in style, showing an extremely refined feel for the attack.} gxf5 ({Declining with} 24... Rd7 {offers no relief after} 25. Nxg7 Kxg7 26. Nh5+ $1 {and now if} gxh5 27. Qg3+ Kf8 28. Bxf6 {Black can only forestall mate by giving up the queen.}) 25. Nxf5 Qf8 {Forced for the same reasons as in the previous line.} 26. Qg3 Ne8 27. e5 $1 f6 ({The point is that after} 27... dxe5 {White has the double attack} 28. Qh4 $1 {with all manner of nasty discovered checks with the knight and h7 pounding.}) 28. Qh4 Rec7 29. e6 $2 {Not the most precise, but it is hard to criticise since it does not compromise the win either.} (29. Nxd6 { was more efficient, since the knight is untouchable.} h6 ({Not} 29... Nxd6 30. Qxh7+ Kf7 31. exf6) 30. Nxb7 Rxb7 31. Qg4 {attacking the rook on c8} Rd8 32. Qe6+ Kh8 33. Qxa6 {and White mops up.}) 29... Bxd5 30. Ne3 Bxe6 31. Bxh7+ Kf7 32. f5 $1 {Making sure the king has no escape, and locking up the light squares.} Bd7 33. Bg6+ Ke7 34. Nd5+ Kd8 35. Bb6 Bc6 36. Qxc4 Bxd5 37. Rxd5 Nc5 38. Rxc5 {A knockout blow} dxc5 39. Rd1+ Nd6 40. Qe6 {with mate to follow.} 1-0

Photos by Boyan Botev

Standings after round nine

Rk SNo Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts
1 4 GM Gunina Valentina RUS 2501 8.0
2 16 GM Zhukova Natalia UKR 2451 7.0
3 14 IM Melia Salome GEO 2454 7.0
4 8 GM Kosintseva Tatiana RUS 2476 7.0
5 2 IM Muzychuk Mariya UKR 2521 6.5
6 22 IM Batsiashvili Nino GEO 2417 6.5
7 7 GM Stefanova Antoaneta BUL 2488 6.5
8 33 WGM Szczepkowska-Horowska Karina POL 2369 6.5
9 11 IM Khurtsidze Nino GEO 2460 6.5
10 12 GM Danielian Elina ARM 2458 6.5
11 9 IM Javakhishvili Lela GEO 2474 6.0
12 1 GM Dzagnidze Nana GEO 2541 6.0
13 28 IM Foisor Cristina-Adela ROU 2383 6.0
14 5 WGM Girya Olga RUS 2493 6.0
15 18 IM Mkrtchian Lilit ARM 2446 6.0
16 13 IM Paehtz Elisabeth GER 2456 6.0
17 10 GM Socko Monika POL 2462 6.0
18 19 WGM Kashlinskaya Alina RUS 2441 6.0
19 53 WGM Nikolova Adriana BUL 2303 5.5
20 6 GM Hoang Thanh Trang HUN 2490 5.5
21 31 WGM Schleining Zoya GER 2376 5.5
22 23 IM Arabidze Meri GEO 2406 5.5
23 36 IM Gvetadze Sofio GEO 2356 5.5
24 21 IM Bodnaruk Anastasia RUS 2429 5.5
25 30 IM Gaponenko Inna UKR 2380 5.5
26 34 IM Guseva Marina RUS 2362 5.5
27 29 IM Savina Anastasia RUS 2383 5.5
28 25 WGM Daulyte Deimante LTU 2405 5.5

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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