Friday, 27 July 2012
The final rounds are upon us in the Jermuk Women’s Grand Prix tournament as the 9th out of 11 rounds has concluded. World Champion Hou Yifan has made a strong run in the last few rounds, and has surpassed her fellow Chinese rival Ju Wenjun who had been leading from the start. Meanwhile, Wenjun earned a men’s GM norm, while Ruan Lufei, with a nice tactical win, secured a men’s IM norm. Congratulations to all of the deserving chess players!
The game of the day was the attractive and instructive victory played by
Ruan against Zhao Xue. After the opening, a complicated position
arose, and on move 19, black erred, allowing white to uncork an
impressive tactical combination
19…d6? (black should have chosen 19…Rfe8! 20.Bc5 d6 21.Be3 Bb7 22.Nf6 Bf6 23. Bb7 Ba1 24.Ra1 Re3! 25.fe Qe3 26.Qe3 Re3 =) 20.Nc5 dc 21.Qa5 and white secured a significant advantage. Black committed another slight inaccuracy, and white produced another pretty sequence in achieving a won position.
48.Rf6 Kf6 49.Kd6 1-0 and white forces the black king into zugzwang, an instructional position for aspiring chess players.
The game between Kosintseva – Danielian was rife with tension throughout. After the opening, white had a nominal advantage, but black made a couple of inaccurate moves, handing white an advantageous position. Not all was yet decided, and white in fact gave back the queen for rook and bishop, hoping to generate some winning chances in the resulting endgame.
35…Rd8 (more accurate would be 35...Rc5 36.Qe8 Kg7 37.Bd6 Rd5 and it is more likely that now black is fighting for the advantage.) 36.Qd8 Bd8 37.Rd8 Kg7 =
And just when the home fans were optimistic that Danielian had sufficient defenses to earn the draw, black made a few mistakes and white was in fact able to claim the win.
In the game between Kovalevskaya – Hou Yifan, spectators saw a back and forth affair. Out of the opening, the Chinese player chose an active approach, but white countered accurately, and was able to enter the middle game with a better position. At this point, however, the roles reversed and it was white who began to lose the thread and play in an unsure manner.
29.Qe3? (necessary was 29.c5 bc 30.bc Nf4 31.Qc2 and white’s advantage is indisputable.)
And a few moves later white not only gave away the advantage, but was already under serious pressure on the board. In mutual time trouble, white was afforded an opportunity to save the position, but alas she missed the chance. The world champion needed no further invitation, and bore down to bring home the full point in the resulting rook-pawn endgame, and in doing so, took the lead with two rounds to go.
The clash between Lahno – Khurtsidze was a captivating game. After a balanced opening, the Ukrainian star sacrificed a pawn for the initiative, and looked to be in full control after some inaccurate responses from the Georgian. However, just when it appeared that the end would be near, it was white’s turn to stumble.
23.Qb6? (23.Bc6! Ra1 24.Ra1 bc 25.Qb6 Bd7 26.Ra7 e4 27.Bd2 and white is just winning.)
Taking full advantage, black was able to steer the game into calmer waters and the game eventually ended with the players sharing the point.
Another game which was worthy of attention was the battle between Munguntuul – Koneru, in which the opening saw an imbalanced position which was difficult to assess. Koneru chose an unorthodox variation, but as it turned out, white was up to the challenge and matched her opponent’s knowledge and preparation. Having attained a certain advantage, white instead of continuing the battle opted instead to repeat the position and take the draw.
24.Bg5 Kf8 25.Be3 (here it was possible to play 25.Bc2 g6 26.h5! with aspirations of trying for a win.) 25...Ke7 26.Bg5 Kf8 27.Be3 Ke7 28.Bg5 1/2-1/2
Another interesting game was seen in the match between Mkrtchian – Ju Wenjun. The opening phase ended in an equal position, when black started to play quite actively and in a risky fashion, with the hopes of stirring things up. White responded properly and enjoyed some advantage, but at a critical juncture, didn’t proceed in the best way.
19.h5? (White should have opted for 19.Qe3! Qe7 20.Ne4 Ne4 21.Qe4 and as it turns out, black has serious problems.)
Instead, the Chinese player responded correctly, and after several more moves, the ladies agreed to a draw.