Women’s World Championship Final – Ushenina goes into the lead

by ChessBase
11/29/2012 – The first game was a fighting draw, the second a short, sharp theoretical battle. In the third former women's world champion, Antoaneta Stefanova went for the Chebanenko Variation. Her opponent, Anna Ushenina conducted an interesting tactical operation, and when Stefanova got into time trouble played flawlessly to win. She leads with 2:1 points and one (regular) game to go. Not impressed?

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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.

Finals: Anna Ushenina (UKR) vs Antoaneta Stefanova (BUL)

Game one

Start of the finals of the Women's World Chess Championship 2012 in Khanty-Mansiysk

In their first game on Tuesday the Ukrainian IM had a certain initiative with White in a well-known opening variation of the Bogo-Indian. After the game Anna Ushenina said that she had expected it, although her opponent does not use it often. White had certain initiative, but Black’s position was very solid.

After the opening Stefanova (above right) offered a draw, but Ushenina declined and, as she confessed at the press conference, overreacted, weakening her king too much. Soon Black won a pawn and obtained excellent winning chances. However, Stefanova, being under time pressure, made a mistake on the 31st move, moving the f-pawn and weakening her king as well.

White activated her queen and rook, and within the next few moves Black’s advantage evaporated. In five more moves the players agreed to a draw.

Game two

The second game featured an interesting theoretical discussion. The Bulgarian GM, playing white, decided to test her opponent’s knowledge in a very sharp opening variation known as the Slav Gambit: White sacrifices a central pawn, but forces Black to keep the king in the center and obtains long-lasting initiative.

Ushenina, however, deviated from the main lines, and by the tenth move the players reached an original position with complicated strategic and tactical pattern. The position looked more promising for White, but Stefanova possibly misplayed it on the next few moves. Ushenina could sacrifice a pawn for the initiative and try to utilize her development lead. This would create a very sharp game risky for both sides. However, the Ukrainian preferred a safer path, simplifying the position, and the players agreed to a draw already on the 17th move on a half-empty board.

Game three

The third game was a Slav. Stefanova went for the Chebanenko Variation (with 4…a6, also called the Chameleon Variation), which she hadn’t use for a long time. Nevertheless, Ushenina was not caught by surprise. White played very well and got a small advantage. In an attempt to activate her pieces, Black carried out a pawn break in the center, which turned out very risky. White replied with an interesting tactical operation, trading two minor pieces for a rook and two pawns. Formally the material was still equal, however, White got a clear advantage: Black’s pieces were badly coordinated, and her king became weak. Soon White advanced the passed pawn, and her position became overwhelming.

Stefanova got into a time trouble and was unable to defend perfectly. Instead of seeking vital counterplay on the kingside, she decided to play passively, which turned out to be a decisive mistake. Ushenina converted her advantage flawlessly, not giving her opponent any hope. Black resigned on the 37th move.

Not impressed?? Anna does a McKayla Maroney face during this decisive game

By winning this game Anna Ushenina took the match lead: 2-1. The fourth game (and the last one with classical time controls) is scheduled for Friday (November 30th). Antoaneta Stefanova plays white and needs a win to stay in the championship.

Results of the finals

IM Anna Ushenina (2452, UKR)
GM Antoaneta Stefanova (2491, BUL)

Replay all games from the finals

Credit: The above report was based on article published by the official web site, which has some extraordinary pictures, 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.


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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