Nicosia GP: Harika beats Kiolbasa to join the lead

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
5/21/2023 – Three players are sharing the lead after five rounds at the Women’s Grand Prix in Nicosia. Joining Kateryna Lagno and Tan Zhongyi, who became the early leaders after winning in the first two rounds, is Harika Dronavalli, who beat an out-of-form Oliwia Kiolbasa in Saturday’s fifth round. Three players make up the chasing pack a half point behind: Aleksandra Goryachkina, Polina Shuvalova and Dinara Wagner. | Photo: FIDE / Mark Livshitz

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Goryachkina draws Lagno with black

The crucial encounter between Kateryna Lagno and Aleksandra Goryachkina was played in round 5 of the Nicosia Women’s Grand Prix. Two of the three frontrunners to get the two coveted spots in the Candidates granted by the series signed a 30-move draw. Lagno is one of the three co-leaders in Cyprus, while Goryachkina stands a half point behind after bouncing back from her first-round loss with wins over Nana Dzagnidze and Oliwia Kiolbasa, both with the white pieces.

Standing on 2 out of 5, a full point behind Goryachkina, is Alexandra Kosteniuk, the third player who entered the event with good chances to finish among the top two in the series’ overall ranking. After drawing Harika Dronavalli in round 4, Kosteniuk told Michael Rahal:

[It has been] four very hard games, and three very long ones — five hours each — and still two rounds to go before the free day, so quite a complicated start. But as I mentioned several times, these tournaments can go either way, so as long as I am in a fighting mood it’s fine.

Harika, on her part, went on to join the leaders by winning her round-5 game against Kiolbasa, who has been struggling in Nicosia. Harika, playing black, grabbed the initiative in the middlegame and was ruthless in conversion. The Indian GM will face Lagno with black in the last round before Monday’s rest day.

Dinara Wagner

Dinara Wagner held Alexandra Kosteniuk to a draw in round 5 | Photo: FIDE / Mark Livshitz

Goryachkina 1 - 0 Kiolbasa

Analysis from round 4 by Karsten Müller

Aleksandra Goryachkina

Aleksandra Goryachkina | Photo: FIDE / Mark Livshitz

Dzagnidze ½ - ½ Assaubayeva

Analysis from round 5 by Karsten Müller

Nana Dzagnidze

Nana Dzagnidze | Photo: FIDE / Mark Livshitz

Results - Round 5

Standings - Round 5

All games

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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.