WWch Rd2 G2: 11 decisions, 5 tie-breaks

by Johannes Fischer
3/22/2015 – In round two of the Women's World Championship in Sochi number two seed Ju Wenjun had to give up all hopes of becoming World Champion after losing against Natalja Pogonina. But most of the favorites prevailed, and Valentina Gunina (picture) and Humpy Koneru even won their fourth game in a row. Five matches were drawn and will be decided in the tie-break.

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Tournament conditions

The Women's World Chess Championship takes place from March 17 – April 7 in Sochi, Russia . The knock-out tournament is attended by 64 players, including the former World Champions Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia), Anna Ushenina (Ukraine), and Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria), the three-time Russian champion Valentina Gunina, the World Vice-Champion Humpy Koneru (India), and other leading grandmasters. Unfortunately, the reigning champion Hou Yifan was unable to come due to personal reasons, but she will still have an opportunity to challenge the new champion in a match, as the winner of the FIDE Grand Prix.

The first five rounds consist of mini-matches of two games with 90 moves per 40 moves plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game with bonus 30 seconds per each move. The final match consists of four games.

If the match score is tied, its winner is determined on tiebreak: two rapid games of 25 minutes + 10 seconds per move.

Dmitry Medvedev (right), Prime Minister of Russia, showing an interest in chess.
FIDE-President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov shows him around.

Number one seed Humpy Koneru

Humpy Koneru won her first game against the young Chinese Lei Tingjie, and had no problems in the second. After the opening she had a slightly better position and coolly countered Lei's attempts to get at least some chances. Thus, Koneru won her fourth game in a row and easily qualified for the round of the last sixteen.

Natalja Pogonina

Natalja Pogonina eliminated second seed Ju Wenjun. After a draw with Black in their first game Pogonina played White and controlled her opponent right from the start. The game began with a King's Indian but soon turned into a Maroczy structure in which White had a slight advantage. Pogonina converted this advantage into a better endgame with queens and rooks. Soon after Ju Wenjun committed an inaccuracy in a difficult position which cost her a pawn, and in the resulting rook endgame the Chinese could only hope for a mistake of her opponent. When that did not come Pogonina advanced to the next round.

Anna Muzychuk was always better against Aleksandra Goryachkina and won in a better queen endgame.

Ekaterina Kovalevskaya had to win with White against Victorija Cmilyte,
but found no recipe against Cmilyte's good preparation and safe play. With this draw Cmilyte
advanced to the next round.

Alexandra Kosteniuk

Alexandra Kosteniuk won the first game against Shen Yang from China and needed only a draw to win the match. Thus, she did not hesitate when she saw a nice drawing combination.

27.Rxd7 Rxd7 28.Nxe5 Qc1+ 29.Kh2 Ra7 30.Ng6+ Kh7 31.Qxe6 Qg5 32.Nf8+ Kh8 33.Ng6+ ½–½

Valentina Gunina showed against Olga Girya how to play against hanging pawns, winning the match 2-0, and scoring her fourth win in a row.

Olga Girya

Zhao Xue (left) won a smooth game and the match against Salome Melia from Georgia.

Yaniet Marrero Lopez

Yaniet Marrero Lopez from Cuba had White against Meri Arabidze, and after a draw in the first game, she went for broke in the second. However, Lopez' attempt to overrun her opponent in the opening backfired and with a cool counter Arabidze advanced to the next round.

Pia Cramling also won and qualified for the next round, however, in a different way. She outplayed Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant in a fine positional game.

A drama occurred in the game between Lela Javakhishvili from Georgia and Chinese Tan Zhongyi. For a long time Tan had been forced to defend, and in the following position she missed a simple tactical stroke in time-trouble:

Here Tan could have won with 52...Rxf6!. Perhaps she had overlooked that the new queen on a1 after 53.gxf6 a1Q 54.f7+ Kf8 covers the square g7 and stops White's passed pawns. In the game she played 52...Rd1? and resigned after 53.Rc5 Rd6 54.Rc1 Re6 55.Rh1 1–0. As the first game of their match had ended in a draw, Javakhishvili qualified for the next round.

Valentina Gunina and Alisa Galliamova

Alisa Galliamova had no such problems to advance. She won the first game against Tatiana Kosintseva and needed only a draw in the second. And though she had Black she outplayed her opponent right from the opening. To win the match she offered a draw in a winning positon and Kosintseva basically had to accept.

Former World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova

Antoaneta Stefanova played the shortest game of the round: after 12 moves she and her opponent Inna Gaponenko decided that a draw and a tie-break were best.

Bela Khotenashvili needed one move more to come to the same result against Huang Qian: draw and tie-Break.

Monika Socko and Marya Muzychuk needed 14 moves to agree on a draw and another get-together in the tie-break. Anna Ushenina, however, did not take the easy way out. She tried hard to win against Marie Sebag but though she had good chances to do so she finally had to settle for a draw and the tie-break.

Irina Krush was also lucky to make it to the tie-break. She had White against Harika Dronavalli,
came close to a defeat but could finally save the draw.

Harika Dronavalli  did not use her chances and has to go into over-time.

  Result   Match
Koneru, Humpy (IND) 1-0 Lei, Tingjie (CHN) 2-0
Pogonina, Natalija (RUS) 1-0 Ju, Wenjun (CHN) 1.5-0.5
Muzychuk, Anna (UKR) 1-0 Goryachkina, Aleksandra (RUS) 1.5-0.5
Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina (RUS) ½-½ Cmilyte, Viktorija (LTU) 0.5-1.5
Kosteniuk, Alexandra (RUS) ½-½ Shen, Yang (CHN) 1.5-0.5
Girya, Olga (RUS) 0-1 Gunina, Valentina (RUS) 0-2
Zhao, Xue (CHN) ½-½ Melia, Salome (GEO) 1.5-0.5
Socko, Monika (POL) ½-½ Muzychuk, Mariya (UKR) 1-1
Stefanova, Antoaneta (BUL) ½-½ Gaponenko, Inna (UKR) 1-1
Huang, Qian (CHN) ½-½ Khotenashvili, Bela (GEO) 1-1
Cramling, Pia (SWE) 1-0 Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan (SCO) 1.5-0.5
Krush, Irina (USA) ½-½ Harika, Dronavalli (IND) 1-1
Marrero Lopez, Yaniet (CUB) 0-1 Arabidze, Meri (GEO) 0.5-0.5-1.5
Javakhishvili, Lela (GEO) 1-0> Tan, Zhongyi (CHN) 1.5-0.5
Ushenina, Anna (UKR) ½-½ Sebag, Marie (FRA) 1-1
Kosintseva, Tatiana (RUS) ½-½ Galliamova, Alisa (RUS) 0.5-1.5





Round 1 - 64 players
March 17 Game 1 3:00 p.m. local time
March 18 Game 2 3:00 p.m. local time
March 19 Tie breaks 3:00 p.m. local time
Round 2 - 32 players
March 20 Game 1 3:00 p.m. local time
March 21 Game 2 3:00 p.m. local time
March 22 Tie breaks 3:00 p.m. local time
Round 3 - 16 players
March 23 Game 1 3:00 p.m. local time
March 24 Game 2 3:00 p.m. local time
March 25 Tie breaks 3:00 p.m. local time
Round 4 - 8 players
March 26 Game 1 3:00 p.m. local time
March 27 Game 2 3:00 p.m. local time
March 28 Tie breaks 3:00 p.m. local time
Round 5 - 4 players
March 29 Game 1 3:00 p.m. local time
March 30 Game 2 3:00 p.m. local time
March 31 Tie breaks 3:00 p.m. local time
Rest day - April, 1
Round 6 - 2 players
April 2 Game 1 3:00 p.m. local time
April 3 Game 2 3:00 p.m. local time
April 4 Game 3 3:00 p.m. local time
April 5 Game 4 3:00 p.m. local time
April 6 Tie breaks 3:00 p.m. local time
April 7 Closing Ceremony*  
*Closing Ceremony can be shifted to
April 6 in the absence of tie breaks

Photos by Eteri Kublashvili, Vladimir Barsky, B. Dolmatovskaya


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Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".


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