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Round 8 report
Thursday, 26 July 2012
round8.jpgThe tension is rising in Jermuk as the 8th round of the Women’s Grand Prix is complete.  Not surprisingly, chess fans today witnessed the greatest number of blunders, as seemingly solid positions unraveled with a single misstep.  With three rounds to go, Ju Wenjun was joined at the top of the leaderboard by world champion and compatriot Hou Yifan.

In the game between Hou Yifan – Ruan Lufei, the champion didn’t get too much out of the opening, though it was probably a bit easier to play with white.  However, in the middle game, white deployed active measures and forced black to commit a mistake.


29…Nf6? (necessary was 29…a5 30.ba Ra8 with hopes for counter play) 30.Qf3 Ng4 31.Qf4 h5 32 Ng3 after which white was able to realize her advantage and earn the victory.
In the game Koneru – Lahno, the world vice-champion committed a very uncharacteristic blunder and the game was virtually decided on the spot.  After the opening, in a rich and equal position, white gave away a key central pawn, allowing black to emerge from the sequence with a decisive position.


15.e5?? Ne5! 16.de Qc6 17.f3 Qc4 and after 20 more moves, black won.
The similar scenario was played out in the game between Zhao Zue – Lilit Mkrtchian.  To the chagrin of the hometown fans, Mkrtchian also blundered away a key central pawn in an innocuous position in which white had a nominal advantage but not more.


15...Qc7?? 16.Ncd5 Nd5 17.Nd5 Qd6 18.Ne3 and after white’s 35th move, black acknowledged defeat.

If our analysis continues in a strictly logical manner, we must come to the same conclusion in the game between Khurtsidze – Kosintseva.  While still early in the opening, the Russian player simply blundered a central pawn handing her Georgian rival a winning position.


10...Ne4?? 11.Nc4! Qc7 12.Nd2 (even better was 12.Bd3 Nc3 13.bc dc 14.cb +-) A white victory seemed imminent, however, it was now white’s turn to lose the thread of the position.


24.Rfb1 b6? (white had already squandered most of her advantage away, and at this point, black had a tactical possibility which would immediately lead to a drawn endgame if she instead found 24...Nd4! 25.ed Rd4 26.Rb7 Qc5 27.Bf1 Bc4 28.Qa7 Bf1 29.Qc5 Rc5 30.Kf1 Ra5 =)

The advantage once again was with black, who proceeded to not only see it vanish in front of her eyes, but in fact, the position became more difficult to play as white.  And in the endgame, with both players is serious time trouble, it was black who missed the winning line.


53…Qa7?? (53…a2!! 54.Qb2 Qc4 -+)

After these missed opportunities by both players, the dust settled and the game ended in a draw.
A relatively stress-free game was seen in the encounter between Ju Wenjun – Munguntuul.  The opening ended with neither side able to claim an advantage, and after a few trades, the players repeated the position three times to result in a draw.


32.Qf6 Kg8 33.Qd8 Kg7 34.Qf6 Kg8 35.Qd8 Kg7 36.Qf6 1/2-1/2

The clash between Danielian – Kovalevskaya was a most interesting game.  A dynamically balanced position arose from the opening, with each side having its relative advantages.  In the middle game, white drifted a bit and black was able to generate a certain plus.  However, as zeitnot approached, white missed a chance to take advantage of her opponent’s inaccuracy.


29.Re7? (necessary was 29.Qg4 Qc6 30.Nf5 Qg6 31.Qg6 fg 32.Ng7 Kg7 33.Rd4 and white has some chance for victory.)
Some time later, it was black’s turn to miss an opportunity to go for victory.


45...Bg7? (45...Re8! 46.Qf4 Re2 -+)

The game was the longest of the day, and with its mutual twists and turns was a stressful affair until finally ending in a draw by three-fold repetition.

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