Saturday, 28 July 2012
The Jermuk Women Grand Prix has entered the annals of history with a thrilling final round in which nearly all games were decisive. The ladies demonstrated uncompromising fighting spirit and stamina, in an excellent display of competitiveness and sportsmanship.
The first game to finish was an attractive game between Mkrtchian –
Khurtsidze. White didn’t get much out of the relatively quiet opening,
however in the middlegame, Mkrtchian launches a kingside attack pushing
her f and g pawns forward. Under this pressure, black stumbled which
allowed white to complete a decisive attack.
21…Bf8?? (necessary was 21...ef 22.Qf5 Nc5 and black is fine, because if 23.Nf6 Bf6 24.gf g6 = and all that remains is for black to play Ne6 and her king is safe.) 22.g6! fg 23.fe Nc5 24.Qf7 Kh8 25.Nf6 Qb7 28.Qb7 Nb7 29.b4 Ra8 30.Rc7 1-0
A tense affair was seen in the clash between Ju Wenjun – Koneru when after the opening led to a balanced position, white pressed forward in a risky, and even inaccurate, fashion. Black was up to the task, addressing first the neutralization of white’s threats, and then, making use of her positional advantage, won the game in an elegant manner.
35...Qf4!! 36.Kg1 Qc1 37.Kh2 Nh4 38.Bf1 Qg5 0-1
White registered an impressive victory in the game between Kovalevskaya – Zhao Xue. While black was able to exit the opening phase without problems. In the middlegame the two sides began a series of sharp moves resulting in a fluctuating assessment of the position on the board. Despite the difficult-to-gauge nature of the position, it was white who demonstrated a better reaction to the dynamics at hand. At a critical stage, black blundered and white made no mistake in benefitting from the opportunity.
35...Nc6? (necessary was 35…Qe4, and while true that after the queen exchange white’s position would be preferable, black could have continued to fight on.) 36.Qc5 Qg4 37.Rd6 Ne7 38.Rbd1 Qe4 38.f3 Rd6 39.Qd6 Qc2 40.Rd2 Qc8 41.Bf6 1-0
Kateryna Lahno – Hou Yifan saw the Ukrainian come out on top after a subtle game against the reigning world champion. The opponents assayed a rare variation in which white had very little advantage. As black eschewed a choosing passive defensive setup, she sacrificed a pawn for activity. In the subsequent maneuvering phase, black made some imprecise moves and white was able to nurse the advantage to victory in this important clash.
29…Bb1? (29...Rb1 30.Rb1 Bb1 and in this ensuing position, black would indeed be close to a drawn position.)
The encounter between Kosintseva – Ruan Lufei started out as a quiet affair. In fact, the middlegame continued in the same vein, with equality dominating the chessboard. At a certain point in the struggle, black had to play a simple move to maintain the parity, but instead in time trouble made a fatal mistake.
43...Re8? (here the straightforward defense was sufficient, with 43...Rb8 defending the attacked pawn) 44.Rb7 Ng4 45.f3 Nf6 46.Rc7 Ne4 47.fe Re4 48.Kf3 Re3 49. Kf4 Rb3 50.Rc6 Rc3 51.Ke5 h5 52.c5 and white achieved a winning postion, which she converted a few moves later.
A wild ending was seen in the game between Munguntuul – Danielian where the Mongolian participant was seeking her first win. White embarked on a relatively rare variation in the opening, but black was able to parry white’s ideas and achieve a balanced position. In the next phase of the game, however, black played a bit indecisively and white had an opportunity to leap ahead with a big advantage, but missed this chance.
34.Kh2? (white could have turned a small advantage into something larger with 34.Nc4! Rc5 35.b3 + -) 34...Qf4 35.Qf4 Rf4 and black equalized. In mutual zeitnot in the endgame phase, both sides began to play actively and after mutual inaccuracies due to the rapid moves back and forth, the game ended with a repetition of moves and the draw was agreed.
60.Nh7 Kg6 61.Rg5 Kh6 62.Rh5 Kg6 63.Rg5 Kh6 64.Rh5 1/2-1/2