Munich GP: Kosteniuk keeps the lead as all games are drawn

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
2/9/2023 – Following the rest day, players returned well-prepared to the playing hall in Munich and drew all their games in round 6 of the Women’s Grand Prix. Alexandra Kosteniuk thus kept her 1½-point lead in the standings. Importantly, Kosteniuk’s closest chasers, Humpy Koneru and Nana Dzagnidze, have yet to face the former women’s world champion. | Photo: FIDE / Mark Livshitz

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A remarkable spectator

Round 6 of the Munich Grand Prix saw all games ending in draws, leaving Alexandra Kosteniuk’s 1½-lead intact with five days to go in the tournament, as no more rest days are scheduled to take place. Kosteniuk will get three blacks and two whites in the remaining rounds, and will face the two players currently sharing second place on 3½ points: Humpy Koneru and Nana Dzagnidze.

Following the games closely since the start of the event is Dr. Helmut Pfleger, who resides in Munich. The medical doctor, who made a career as an internist and psychotherapist, was once among the top 50 players in the world. Remarkably, he twice defeated Lev Polugaevsky — his second victory was a memorable win with black at the 1978 Olympiad in Buenos Aires. Johannes Fischer thus described the importance of Pfleger’s achievement:

This game was not only theoretically significant, but also historically important: it was played in the 9th round of the Chess Olympiad in the match between West Germany and the USSR, and it helped the German team to a surprising 2½-1½ victory against the heavily favoured Soviets.

Pfleger will turn 80 years old in August, and remains as enthusiastic as ever. In an interview with press officer Michael Rahal, the German grandmaster noted:

It’s very interesting, it’s my hometown, and it’s very nice to see such a strong tournament with the best women from all over the world. So it’s a really nice occasion. [...] And it’s a pleasure — some of them I know already, some of them I don’t — to see them personally and not only on the photos made by David Llada. They are wonderful photos, very good photos, but to see them personally is something else.

Helmut Pfleger, Michael Rahal

Helmut Pfleger and Michael Rahal — replay the full interview on FIDE’s YouTube channel | Photo: David Llada

Trading surprises in the opening

In an entertaining opening battle, tournament leader Alexandra Kosteniuk and Zhansaya Abdumalik surprised each other in the very first moves of the game. Abdumalik, who is not having a great tournament, decided to try the Caro-Kann Defence with black, an opening she played “for the second or third time in classical chess”. However, her opponent was the one bringing about the bigger surprise with 4.g4


Abdumalik told Michael Rahal that she had not prepared this line since Kosteniuk usually plays 4.Nf3. Shortly after, the contenders began to spend considerable time on each move, with the Kazakh star thinking for 7 minutes before playing a novelty on move 9.


Instead of 9...Qg3+, which is suggested by the engines and immediately takes advantage of White’s early pawn pushes, Abdumalik went for 9...e5, preparing to open up the centre. Despite the early surprises and the amount of time both contenders spent in the opening, the position remained dynamically balanced until a draw was signed on move 40.

In Thursday’s seventh round, Abdumalik will play white against Tan Zhongyi, while Kosteniuk will have the black pieces against Mariya Muzychuk.

Alexandra Kosteniuk

Tournament leader Alexandra Kosteniuk | Photo: Mark Livshitz

Results - Round 6


Standings - Round 6


All games



Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.