Ju Wenjun, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Sarasadat Khademalsharieh and Nino Batsiashvili leading after the 8th round
On a gloomy Sunday, November 27, the chess world was shocked by the tragic death of the Russian young and talented grandmaster Urii Eliseev (1996-2016). But disasters come treading on each other’s heals…
Before the 8th round of the final leg of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix in Khanty-Mansisyk the news came that Almira Skripchenko didn’t feel well and would miss her game against Ju Wenjun. One of Almira’s best friends Natalia Zhukova called a doctor and was staying with her while it was necessary. Natalia’s game with Sarasadat Khademalsharieh started approximately at 15:20 local time as an exceptional case, and a quick draw followed, after which Natalia came back to the hotel to support Almira.
Now Almira is much better, and we all wish her a speedy recovery! Fortunately, tomorrow is a free day.
The 8th round started with the moment of silence in the memory of Urii Eliseev. Apart from the results mentioned above, two games ended decisively and two games were drawn.
Alexandra Kosteniuk implemented a fresh idea in Ruy Lopez with White against Bela Khotenashvili, who afterwards blundered a pawn in the opening.
A. Kosteniuk – B. Khotenashvili
After 6. Re1 Nc5 7. Bxc6 dxc6 8. Nxe5 Black perhaps should have started with 8…Be7, but Bela preferred 8…Be6 and lost a pawn in two moves.
9. Qh5 Be7?
10. Nxf7! White won a pawn without any compensation from Black’s side.
As Alexandra confessed at the press conference, she wasn’t precise at some moments, and maybe in the endgame Black could equalize, but in a severe time trouble Bela didn’t manage to find the best ways to survive and eventually lost.
Valentina Gunina upset her compatriot Olga Girya in a fighting and very complicated game. Before the time control Valentina started an attack on the kingside, but underestimated a very strong counter play by Olga.
V. Gunina – O. Girya
It is impossible to take the knight because the black pawns (b4 and c4) will be unstoppable.
Valentina continues her plan to attack the black king. Maybe it wasn’t perfectly correct but in a time trouble it worked out.
34…Nd2! 35. Kg2 Nxb3 36. hxg5 Nh7 37. Be5 Bxg5
The machine recommends just to step back with the bishop – 37…Bf8. After it White’s attack is being choked. But in the game the struggle went on, and it was Black who had to find the right moves.
38. f4 Bf6 39. f5 exf5 40. gxf5 g5 41. Qh6
The one and the only move which didn’t lose for Black was the unhuman 41…Nd2! with a possible continuation 42. Ng3 Nc4 43. Nh5 Nxe5 44. dxe5 d4+ 45. e4 Qc1! 46. exf6 Qd2+ 47. Kg1 Qe3+ with the perpetual check.
Olga played 41…Qb6 and lost after 42. Ng3 Qd8 43. Kh5 Bxe5 44. f6. Black resigned.
The two draws in the games Batsiashvili-Pogonina and Javakhishvili-Harika were very tense and eventful.
Lela Javakhishvili got a better position from the opening, where Dronavalli mixed up some lines. The Georgian player was trying her best to win an endgame, where White had a rook and a bishop while Black was defending with a rook and a knight. Lela managed to win a pawn, but nevertheless couldn’t convert her advantage into a victory. Dronavalli was defending very tenaciously and managed to hold a draw.
In the game Batsiashvili-Pogonina the players were struggling in a very adherent close position which emerged from the Queen’s Indian Defence. White was pushing in the center and Black organized a counter attack on the queenside, but, as Pogonina said, White’s position became more preferable when Nino managed to put her knight on c6 and after it’s exchange white pawn on c6 became very strong and unpleasant for Black. Nonetheless in a mutual time trouble both sides had chances to achieve a certain edge, but at some points they missed the strongest moves. A draw was agreed by a threefold repetition.
After the 8th round the situation with the leaders of the GP Series hasn’t changed: 1. Ju Wenjun – 375,8 cumulative points, 2. Humpy Koneru – 335, 3. Alexandra Kosteniuk – 317,5.
Round 8 results:
Javakhishvili – Harika 1/2-1/2, Kosteniuk – Khotenashvili 1-0, Gunina – Girya 1-0, Skripchenko – Ju Wenjun -+, Khademalsharieh – Zhukova 1/2-1/2, Batsiashvili – Pogonina 1/2-1/2
Standings after round 8:
1-4. Ju Wenjun, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, Nino Batsiashvili – 5, 5-6. Natalia Zhukova, Valentina Gunina – 4,5, 7-8. Olga Girya, Dronavalli Harika – 4, 9-11. Bela Khotenashvili, Natalija Pogonina, Lela Javakhishvili – 3, 12. Almira Skripchenko – 2.
November 28 is a free day.
Round 9 pairings:
Pogonina – Javakhishvili, Zhukova – Batsiashvili, Ju Wenjun – Khademalsharieh, Girya – Skripchenko, Khotenashvili – Gunina, Harika – Kosteniuk