Round 9: Hou Yifan wins Grand Prix Series, Ju Wenjun takes lead
After the end of 9th rounds it it became official - Hou Yifan has won the FIDE Women Grand Prix Series 2013-2014! Humpy Koneru was the first one to finish her game against Zhu Chen, so she missed even theoretical chance to fight for the first place in Grand Prix Series.
At the same time the intrigue still revolves around the last two rounds of the 6th stage of Grand Prix in Sharjah. Ju Wenjun defeated Harika Dronavalli and took the sole lead half a point ahead of Hou Yifan, who drew with Elina Danielian. During the press conference Hou Yifan promised to try her best in the final rounds. World Champion will keep on fighting for the victory in the tournament, despite the fact that her main goal to win the WGP Series has been achieved. Batchimeg Tuvshintugs split a point with Nafisa Muminova and keeps the third place in the tournament one point behind of Hou Yifan. Anna Ushenina, who defeated Tatiana Kosintseva, is on the fourth place half a point behind of Mongolian player. Zhao Xue outplayed Alina L’Ami and shares the fifth place together with Elina Danielian.
Humpy Koneru 1/2-1/2 Zhu Chen
“I blundered so many times in the key games before in this tournament… For the moment it’s just important for me to play normal games without big mistakes”, explained Humpy Koneru her attitude before the game with Zhu Chen. Black played carefully in the opening and White didn’t manage to create any real threats. Two bishops didn’t help white to fight for any real advantage and after 31 moves the game finished in a draw.
Muminova Nafisa ½-½ Tuvshintugs Batchimeg
The fact that Batchimeg needed a draw to make her first GM norm slightly affected the play of Mongolian player. She learnt this information just before the game and tried to stay calm even so there was a moment when Black faced real problems. It went wrong for her in the endgame when Nafisa Muminova managed to get visible advantage. However, Muminova didn’t play accurately and eventually lost her chances.
Chimy was happy to make her GM norm and called her success as her biggest achievement in chess so far.
Alina L’Ami 0–1 Zhao Xue
Despite the fact that Alina’s is very unhappy with her results in this tournament, she doesn’t give up and keeps on fighting in every game, It was a very complex game with chances for the both sides but at the moment when the things went good for White, Alina “pushed her h-pawn too far”.
After 26.h3 Zhao Xue had to solve problems with her pieces and after 26…Bg5 it seems White is not risking. Alina played 26.h4 instead and after 26…h5 Black’s knights became too strong.
Hou Yifan ½-½ Danielian Elina
“We checked the computer and saw that there were now moves marked with red today,” said Elina Danielian at the press conference. It was an even fight and neither side had real chances to play for something more than a draw,
Dronavalli Harika 0-1 Ju Wenjun
Harika Dronavalli tried to create an attack on opponent’s king and spent a lot of time and energy looking for the best options in the middle game. As she pointed out at the press conference, she didn’t have power to make the right decision when the critical moment had come and probably underestimated Black’s counter play on the king’s side, which was crucial for the outcome of the game. Ju Wenjun carefully avoided all white’s threats and hold decisive material advantage.
Ju Wenjun made already the fifth norm of GM and promised to apply for her title.
Kosintseva, Tatiana 0-1 Ushenina, Anna
Anna Ushenina started to fight for initiative from the early stage of the game and after White's inaccurate 17.e5 Ushenina carefully traded few pieces and got better pawn structure at the endgame. Since the queens were also exchanged, white had to defend a bad bishop versus good knight ending. Former wolrd champion showed a very good technique and eventually converted her advantage.
All players expressed their gratitude to organizers for the exceptional program arranged during the second free day, The participants and guests of the tournament first visited Aquarium in Sharjah and the tallest building in the World Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The agenda also included the boat trip and evening dessert tour.