Women’s Candidates: Two draws to start

by André Schulz
11/30/2022 – At 3 p.m. local time on Tuesday (11 a.m. CET) Pool B of the Women’s Candidates tournament kicked off in Khiva, Uzbekistan. Aleksandra Goryachkina gained an advantage against Alexandra Kosteniuk, but gave it away in time trouble. The game between Tan Zhongyi and Kateryna Lagno also ended in a draw. | Photos: Xushnud Baltaev / FIDE

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A desert oasis

In the Uzbek city of Khiva, four contenders are playing the second half of the Women’s Candidates Tournament, dubbed Pool B by FIDE. Alexandra Kosteniuk faces Aleksandra Goryachkina in the quarterfinals here, while Kateryna Lagno faces Tan Zhongyi. 

Khiva is an old desert oasis, over 2500 years old, a station on the edge of the former Silk Road. The venue in Khiva is the Farovon Hotel. The main arbiter is Husan Turdialiev from Uzbekistan, assisted by Berik Balgabaev (advisor to the FIDE President). GM Arturs Neiksans and WGM Keti Tsatsalashvili commentate on the games live for the spectators on the internet.

Normally, the tournament would have been played as a round-robin with the eight qualified participants. But after Russia’s attack against Ukraine, a special situation arose in which FIDE thought it advisable not to let the Ukrainians play against the Russian players. In fact, Ukrainian male and female athletes are advised not to compete against Russian athletes in sports competitions. Russian athletes have been banned from competing by most international federations. In chess, they are allowed to compete under the FIDE flag.

The first half of the Candidates Tournament featured Anna and Mariya Muzychuk, Humpy Koneru and Lei Tingjie in Monaco. The Chinese won the semifinal against Anna Muzychuk and is thus the first finalist. 

The quarterfinals will be played over four games. In the semifinals it will be six games. In case of a tie, a tiebreak will take place with rapid and blitz games.

The first round kicked off on Tuesday at 3 pm local time. The two opening games ended today without a winner.

Alexandra Kosteniuk and Aleksandra Goryachkina

Alexandra Kosteniuk had drawn the white pieces for the first game against Alexandra Goryachkina during the opening ceremony. After 1.e4 Goryachkina defended with the Berlin and got a noticeable initiative in the middlegame. With time running out, however, she missed the strong move 34...Qh5 (instead of 34...f5) with the threat of 35...Qe2, followed by 35...b4, which would have given her a big advantage.

“At some point I did something very wrong and was very worried about my position, but I was lucky in the time trouble phase and was able to exchange everything”, a relieved Kosteniuk explained after the game.

In the second match, between Tan Zhongyi and Kateryna Lagno, the advantage out of a Queen’s Gambit was also on the black side (Lagno).

Tan defended solidly and kept things under control. Later on, in a balanced position, a draw was agreed.

Tan Zhongyi and Kateryna Lagno

All games


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André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.