Women’s World Championship – and then there were eight

11/20/2012 – The weather outside is frightful – 17°C, or 1.4°F – but the games and fighting spirit in the playing hall were quite delightful. At the end of the tiebreak round, which did not go beyond the rapid games, eight players had proceeded, and eight take their leave of Khanty-Mansiysk in what was certainly the most thrilling round of the tournament. Big illustrated report on round three.

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The Women’s World Chess Cup 2012 is being staged by the Ugorian Chess Academy in Khanty-Mansiysk from 11 November to 2 December. The best 64 chess players in the world are taking part in the competition, which consist of six knock-out rounds of two games, which reduce the participants from 64 to 32, 16, 8, 4, and 2. The final consists of four games, the winner will play a match against the winner of FIDE Women’s Grand Prix 2011-2012 (Hou Yifan), which will determine the World Champion among women.

Round three


This was the most thrilling round of the tournament, full of decisive games

Former women's world champion Antoaneta Stefanova (above, Bulgaria) won her first game against Monika Socko, the Polish GM who had knocked out the current women's world champion Hou Yifan in the previous round. In the second game Stefanova did not try to play for a draw, but went for a sharp line and a full-scale offensive instead. She sacrificed a pawn, then delivered a nice tactical blow, and won an exchange and soon the game, thus advancing to the quarterfinal with a 2-0 score.

Zhao Xue (above, China) defeated Maria Muzychuk (Ukraine) in 27 moves. The Ukrainian made a mistake in the opening, giving her opponent a very favorable position with a firm advantage and no risk. White seized space and carried out a swift attack. Zhao Xue won the match 1.5-0.5 and moved up.

Harika Dronavalli (above, India) outplayed Lela Javakhishvili (Georgia) in the opening and won a pawn. Material advantage decided the outcome of both the game and the match – Harika won and advanced to the quarterfinal.

Natalia Pogonina (above right, Russia) needed to beat Anna Ushenina (Ukraine) to equalize the match score. Pogonina played aggressively, but the Ukrainian defended very calmly, parried all the threats and eventually gained a positional advantage. Pogonina held the game, but lost the match 0.5-1.5 and was eliminated.

Alisa Galliamova (above, Russia) was in the same situation, as she needed to defeat Marie Sebag (below, France) to tie the match score. The Russian played actively, outplayed her opponent in the maneuvering game and won a pawn.

However, she made a mistake in the time trouble, and Sebag, appropriately dressed for the –17°C temperatures outside, was able to activate her pieces and threaten a perpetual. In order to avoid the losing draw, Galliamova had to send her king to the other side of the board, but Sebag developed a mating attack, winning the match 2-0.

The tiebreaks

Kosintseva sisters (Nadezhda and Tatiana, both Russia), who seldom play fighting games against each other, drew their regular games and went into the tiebreaks, which turned out to be the most tense and dramatic in this round. The elder sister, Nadezhda, dominated in the first rapid game: she obtained an opening advantage, and her play was accurate and energetic, which forced the younger sister to spend more and more time. Tatiana defended imprecisely in time trouble, and eventually had to resign. However, in the second game Tatiana demonstrated her character and equalized the score with black. In the first ten-minute game she played white and got an advantage, but spoiled it later in a very complicated game and lost. Nadezhda defended very well in the second ten-minute game and parried all dangerous threats created by her sister. Black was eventually forced to go for a draw, and Nadezhda won the match 2.5-1.5.

In the first regular game Chinese WGM Ju Wenjun defeated Ukrainian GM Natalia Zhukova in a 57-move battle. The second game (above) was the longest of the day. Zhukova chose a very sharp opening line, which brought her a large advantage. However, she nearly spoiled a sure win, when instead of delivering a fine tactical blow she decided to win a rook. Black seized the initiative, and Zhukova had to return almost all her extra material to defend. The game proceeded to an endgame with rook + a-pawn for White and two minor pieces for Black. White gave up her rook, but promoted the a-pawn. Ju Wenjun tried to build a fortress in the center of the board, but Zhukova broke through it and created irresistible threats. She won the game in 93 moves.

In the tiebreak games Natalia Zhukova (above) lost the first game to the Chinese WGM, who had the white pieces. Ju got a promising position after the opening, sized more space and controlled the open files. After a queen exchange White won a pawn, and her material advantage was the decisive factor in the endgame. The Ukrainian was unable to come back in the second game, where she initiated a sharp struggle, but cracked under time pressure.

Ju Wenjun (above) forced a draw by perpetual and advanced to the quarterfinals.

IM Irina Krush won her first game against Huang Qian, but the Chinese WGM came back in the second game, playing very energetically to convert her extra pawn in a complex ending. In the tiebreak games Krush was forced to defend an unpleasant position in the first game, blundered in the end and had to resign. In the second game Huang equalized as Black and held the draw, which allowed her to advance.

All results of round three

Name
G1
G2
 R1  R2  r3  r4
Tot
Socko, Monika (POL)
0
0
       
0
Stefanova, Antoaneta (BUL)
1
1
       
2
 
Ju, Wenjun (CHN)
1
0
1
½
   
2.5
Zhukova, Natalia (UKR)
0
1
0
½
   
1.5
 
Ushenina, Anna (UKR)
1
½
       
1.5
Pogonina, Natalija (RUS)
0
½
       
0.5
 
Muzychuk, Mariya (UKR)
½
0
       
0.5
Zhao, Xue (CHN)
½
1
       
1.5
 
Javakhishvili, Lela (GEO)
½
0
       
0.5
Harika, Dronavalli (IND)
½
1
       
1.5
 
Kosintseva, Tatiana (RUS)
½
½
0
1
0
½
2.5
Kosintseva, Nadezhda (RUS)
½
½
1
0
1
½
3.5
 
Huang, Qian (CHN)
0
1
1
½
   
2.5
Krush, Irina (USA)
1
0
0
½
   
1.5
 
Galliamova, Alisa (RUS)
0
0
       
0
Sebag, Marie (FRA)
1
1
       
2

Goodbye to Khanty Mansiysk

Here are portraits of some of the players who were eliminated in round two of the Women's World Championship and who we will not be seeing in subsequent reports.


Tatiana Kositseva (RUS)


Monika Socko (POL)


Natalija Pogonina (RUS)


Irina Krush (USA)


Maria Muzychuk (UKR)


Lela Javakhishvili (GEO)


Photographer and press officer WGM Anna Burtasova

Credit: The extraordinary pictures above were supplied by the official web site and were made by Anna Burtasova, Etery Kublashvili, Vladimir Barsky and local photographers. Many more images are to be found here.


The live video coverage is provided by Mark Gluhovsky from ChessTV. There will be English language commentary by GM Alexander Khalifman. For the first time Mark is going to try to supply commentary in Chinese: GM Peng Zhaoqing speaking from her home in Holland. The Russian commentary will come from GM Sergei Shipov, working out of Moscow.


Links

The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 11 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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