Lausanne GP: Goryachkina wins, sets up showdown

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
3/13/2020 – World champion Ju Wenjun lost a second game in a row, this time against Aleksandra Goryachkina, who thus caught Nana Dzagnidze atop the standings table of the Women's Grand Prix in Lausanne. The co-leaders will face each other in Friday's deciding round (which kicks off three and a half hours earlier than usual!). Zhansaya Abdumalik is the only player a half point behind. | Photo: David Llada

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Abdumalik still with chances

Tournament victory in Lausanne will be decided in two of Friday's games, when the action kicks off three and a half hours earlier than usual. Co-leaders Nana Dzagnidze and Aleksandra Goryachkina will face each other and, if they end up drawing, a win by late replacement Zhansaya Abdumalik will allow her to catch up and share first place. Dzagnidze will play White against Goryachkina, while Abdumalik will have the black pieces against Marie Sebag.

Full pairings of the final round:

Name Result Name
Muzychuk Anna   Kashlinskaya Alina
Muzychuk Mariya   Harika Dronavalli
Cramling Pia   Stefanova Antoaneta
Sebag Marie   Abdumalik Zhansaya
Ju Wenjun   Kosteniuk Alexandra
Dzagnidze Nana   Goryachkina Aleksandra

In round ten, Goryachkina got to defeat Ju Wenjun, who had recently beat her in a closely contested World Championship match. Dzagnidze, in the meantime, was under slight pressure in her game with Black against Alina Kashlinskaya, though correct technique allowed her to get a half point. The other two winners of the day were Abdumalik and Antoaneta Stefanova, who defeated Pia Cramling and Mariya Muzychuk, respectively.

Grégoire Junoud, Aleksandra Goryachkina, Ju Wenjun

Lausanne Mayor Grégoire Junoud made the first move in Aleksandra Goryachkina v Ju Wenjun | Photo: David Llada

Back in January, Ju Wenjun retained her World Championship title after defeating 21-year-old Aleksandra Goryachkina in a dramatic four-game rapid tiebreaker. In Lausanne, Ju reached the round-ten encounter against her latest challenger after having shown a subpar performance (+1 -2 =6) throughout the event. Goryachkina, on the other hand, arrived as the only undefeated player, standing a half point behind the leader. 

The players repeated the line they had explored in both rapid encounters of the World Championship tiebreak when Goryachkina had the white pieces — Ju had shown good preparation to draw both games, much as she had done in game three of the classical portion. For a while it seemed like the trend was going to continue in Switzerland...until Ju's position started to crumble around her king:

 

After 29.exf7 xf7 30.e6 g5 it is clear Black needs to be careful to avoid losing to a kingside attack. Ju handled the situation well for a bit, only to falter decisively on move 34:

 

Ju's 34...c5 gave way to 35.e5, attacking the key g5-square while keeping the pin on the f6-rook — better was 34...♛f4, when after the queen swap White is still in the driver's seat, but a long fight awaits.

In the game, things came to a head for Black rather quickly: 35...d4 36.hxg5 hxg5 37.xg5+ h8 38.h5+ g7 39.g3+ and Ju resigned with mate-in-two on the board.  

 

Ju Wenjun

World champion Ju Wenjun is not having a good tournament in Lausanne | Photo: David Llada

In the meantime, Zhansaya Abdumalik was facing a Kan Variation of the Sicilian put forth by Pia Cramling. White had a space advantage, but Black counted with plenty of counterchances, mostly based on her strong light-squared controlling the long diagonal. When the position broke open in the centre, the computer showed missed chances for both players:

 

Here Cramling captured with 24...xe4, leading to massive simplifications. Instead, 24...♞xe4 would have given her chances to put pressure on her young rival — e.g. 25.♘f3 ♜e6 26.♔g1 b5, etcetera. As noted above, Abdumalik also missed some chances in the complications.

When the dust settled, White got the initiative in a materially-balanced position with an asymmetrical pawn structure. And when the time control was approaching, Cramling made an unfortunate mistake:

 

Preventing White from capturing on f7 was imperative here, which is achieved by playing either 38...♞f6 or 38...♞d2. Instead, Cramling's 38...axb4 allowed 39.xf7, when Black's best chance is to continue with 39...♜f6, entering a miserable position — nonetheless, that would have been better than 39...xc5, as the queen capture simply blundered mate-in-one: 40.h6#

 

Zhansaya Abdumalik

Zhansaya Abdumalik | Photo: David Llada

Kashlinskaya v Dzagnidze and Harika v Anna Muzychuk were balanced struggles that ended in draws. Alexandra Kosteniuk and Marie Sebag, meanwhile, played sharply, with Sebag showing an interesting pawn sacrifice in exchange for the initiative — in the end, the game finished drawn when Kosteniuk found a way to give perpetual check.

In the third decisive game of the day, Antoaneta Stefanova outplayed Mariya Muzychuk from a position with rooks, knights and bishops of opposite colours:

 

White gained the initiative shortly after and never let go, steadily increasing the pressure until getting a 63-move victory.

 

Antoaneta Stefanova

Antoaneta Stefanova | Photo: David Llada


Standings after Round 10

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Dzagnidze Nana 6,5 0,0
2 Goryachkina Aleksandra 6,5 0,0
3 Abdumalik Zhansaya 6,0 0,0
4 Kashlinskaya Alina 5,5 0,0
5 Muzychuk Anna 5,5 0,0
6 Harika Dronavalli 5,0 0,0
7 Stefanova Antoaneta 5,0 0,0
8 Muzychuk Mariya 5,0 0,0
9 Ju Wenjun 4,0 0,5
10 Cramling Pia 4,0 0,5
11 Kosteniuk Alexandra 3,5 0,5
12 Sebag Marie 3,5 0,5

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.