Lausanne GP: Dzagnidze takes first place on tiebreaks

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
3/14/2020 – It was a rather short final day of action at the Women's Grand Prix in Lausanne. All six encounters finished drawn after 33 moves or fewer, which meant the standings table remained unchanged. Nana Dzagnidze and Aleksandra Goryachkina thus shared first place with 7 out of 11 points, while Zhansaya Abdumalik finished third on 6½. Dzagnidze was declared the champion on tiebreaks (total number of wins). | Photos: David Llada

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A repeat of round one

The third leg of the Women's Grand Prix series 2019/20 was generally characterized by fighting chess, with plenty of decisive games and hard-fought draws the rule rather than the exception. Except for the first and last rounds. While on opening day, the longest of the six draws lasted 42 moves, the largest amount of moves played in any game of round eleven were 33. Given the general sense of anxiety produced by the Coronavirus outbreak, we can safely say that the players were at least partially affected by the uncertainty regarding the measures they will need to take on the way — and once they get — home.

The peaceful results left the standings table unchanged, with the showdown between co-leaders Nana Dzagnidze and Aleksandra Goryachkina ending after 24 moves of an Exchange Slav. The only player with chances to catch up with them, Zhansaya Abdumalik, signed an even quicker draw, as her opponent, Marie Sebag, blitzed out her preparation before agreeing to repeat the position thrice.

Nana Dzagnidze, Aleksandra Goryachkina

The deciding face-off between Nana Dzagnidze and Aleksandra Goryachkina is about to begin | Photo: David Llada

The one exciting game of the day saw Pia Cramling getting a superior position out of the opening against Antoaneta Stefanova. The Swedish grandmaster could not make the most of it, however, and decided to offer a draw on move 31. 56-year-old Cramling showed great fighting spirit throughout the event, missing chances and saving half points while averaging over 60 moves per game.

 

Once all the results were in, there was no doubt regarding who would be declared the champion. In case of a tie in points, the winner of every GP event is decided based on three tiebreak criteria: the result of the direct encounters between the players tied, the total number of wins and the Sonneborn-Berger score. As the co-leaders had just drawn their game, the fact that Dzagnidze won four games to Goryachkina's three made her the champ.

On a side note, the fact that the Candidates Tournament will kick off next week reminds us of the fact that the exact same tiebreak criteria will be in use at the highly-anticipated event. In fact, back in 2013, Magnus Carlsen tied in points with Vladimir Kramnik at the Candidates in London, but was declared the winner for having collected one more win than the Russian — or, as some commentators noticed, for having lost one more game than Kramnik.

In Lausanne, Goryachkina came second while being the only player to end the tournament undefeated. However, the big difference is that "all prize money and WGP points [were] divided equally among the players with the same score".  

Aleksandra Goryachkina, Zhansaya Abdumalik

In high spirits — Aleksandra Goryachkina and Zhansaya Abdumalik | Photo: David Llada

Slightly below the winners finished Zhansaya Abdumalik, who was invited to play as a late replacement for Zhao Xue, as the latter could not make the trip to Lausanne from China. Alina Kashlinskaya and Anna Muzychuk tied on 6 out of 11, sharing fourth and fifth places.

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the table remained Marie Sebag and Alexandra Kosteniuk, each with four points — this was a particularly painful result for Kosteniuk, who is now all but out of contention in the fight to get a spot in the Candidates through the GP, despite having won the second leg in Monaco.

In the race to get the aforementioned qualifying spots, only a miracle would leave Humpy Koneru out of the top two (Goryachkina is already qualified as the latest World Championship challenger), while Nana Dzagnidze and Kateryna Lagno became the front-runners in the struggle to get the second ticket — notice that Kosteniuk will not play the fourth leg.

Overall standings of the Women's Grand Prix series:

Rank Player Skolkovo Monaco Lausanne Sardinia Total
1  Aleksandra Goryachkina (RUS) 120 133⅓ 145 *** 398⅓
2  Humpy Koneru (IND) 160 133⅓ ***   293⅓
3  Alexandra Kosteniuk (RUS) 45 133⅓ 15 *** 193⅓
4  Nana Dzagnidze (GEO) *** 35 145   180
4  Kateryna Lagno (RUS) 90 90 ***   180
4  Dronavalli Harika (IND) 60 60 60 *** 180
7  Anna Muzychuk (UKR) *** 80 85   165
8  Ju Wenjun (CHN) 120 *** 35   155
9  Alina Kashlinskaya (RUS) 45 *** 85   130
10  Mariya Muzychuk (UKR) *** 60 60   120
11  Zhansaya Abdumalik (KAZ) *** *** 110 *** 110
12  Pia Cramling (SWE) 10 60 35 *** 105
13  Elisabeth Paehtz (GER) 75 20 ***   95
14  Valentina Gunina (RUS) 75 10 ***   85
14  Antoaneta Stefanova (BUL) 25 *** 60   85
16  Marie Sebag (FRA) 25 *** 15   40
17  Zhao Xue (CHN) *** 35 ***   35

The final leg is scheduled to be played in Sardinia from May 2nd to 15th, and we can only hope for the situation in Italy and the world to get under control by then, so that the event ends up taking place as planned.  

FIDE Women's Grand Prix Lausanne 2020

All the participants of the Women's Grand Prix in Lausanne after eleven gruelling rounds of competition | Photo: David Llada


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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.

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