Round 1: Hou Yifan wins, Humpy Koneru stumbles
The sixth stage of FIDE Women Grand Prix in Sharjah started on 25th of August with four decisive games and two draws.
Most of the players playing the black pieces were higher rated than their opponents, and three out of four decisive games finished in Black’s favor. Humpy Koneru, one of the challengers for the victory in Grand Prix series, blundered material and lost her first game against Batchimeg Tuvshintugs, while Hou Yifan confidently outplayed Nafisa Muminova. Harika Dronavalli and Zhao Xue managed to win after long resistance from their opponents Alina L’Ami and Zhu Chen respectively. Elina Danielian and Anna Ushenina had good chances to finish their games with victories but their opponents Tatiana Kosintseva and Ju Wenjun managed to avoid serious troubles and both games ended in draws.
Over the last days the main hall of the Cultural and Chess Club of Sharjah has been changed to a beautiful garden as the playing area was decorated with hundreds of flowers and plants.
Muminova, Nafisa 0-1 Hou Yifan
Hou Yifan obtained quite comfortable position due to some inaccuracies made by her opponent and was slowly improving her position looking for the right moment to break through on the King’s side. White didn’t find real chances to find any counter play and after 32…g5 Muminova’s position became hopeless.
With the last move Black put her rook on g7. Do we need to add that 7 moves later another rook will come on g8 to take part in fatal attack on White's king?
Tuvshintugs, Batchimeg 1-0 Koneru Humpy
Mongolian player decided to give up the bishop for the knight and ended up in the worse position. Humpy Koneru had many different options to increase her advantage but preferred to enter the position with two rooks for a queen with better chances for Black. According to Koneru she could have slowly increased the position of her pieces but instead she lost her track and blundered the material. Just one move earlier Black could have forced a draw by three times repetition.
It was still possible to play 32...Re3 and after 33.Bc1 ef but Humpy chose to protect her rook with 32...Nd6?. After a very strong 33.Qd3! Black loses material and the game.
Zhu Chen 0-1 Zhao Xue
Zhao Xue managed to equalize with black and grabbed a pawn on a2 due to her opponent’s mistake. Nevertheless, White got a positional compensation by activating her pieces. Black has to give a pawn back and the position was balanced but luckily for Zhao Xue, Zhu Chen made inaccurate moves 31.b4 and 32.e4. Chinese player confidently converted her advantage into full point.
Ju Wenjun ½-½ Ushenina, Anna
The game between Ju Wenjun and Anna Ushenina ended in a draw, but not before Ukrainian player had had a promising position. Ju Wenjun played inaccurately in the opening and ended up in the position with an isolated pawn. Anna Ushenina used a typical plan for this kind of positions and it was White’s turn to look for equality. At the same time former world champion was not so optimistic about her chances. “White didn’t do anything wrong to be punished”, said Anna during the press conference after the game but her opponent seemed to be happy with a draw. After 30 moves the game was over after three times repetition.
Danielian, Elina ½-½ Kosintseva, Tatiana
Tatiana Kosintseva didn’t expect the line with 7.c5 in Queens Gambit and went for dubious continuation with 7…Ne4. White managed to gain an advantage out of the opening and Tatiana was suffering trying to equalize the position during the whole game. In the endgame Elina Danielian managed to win a pawn but didn’t succeed to convert her advantage in the rook endgame.
l'Ami, Alina 0-1 Dronavalli Harika
It became clear during the press conference that Harika Dronavalli had better knowledge of the position which appeared after the opening. Despite the fact that White had pair of bishops, it was difficult to find the way to make use of them. Harika precisely played against the weakness of the White’s position – hanging pawns, and managed to win one of them. Black converted her advantage in the rook endgame.
And so after the first round the tournament has four leaders. Tuesday, August 26th at 15:00 local time the second round will be played: