With her win yesterday in the 6th round against A. Stefanova, Zhao Xue is sole leader in this exciting tournament and is realising a tremendous result so far- 4 wins and 2 draws- a performance that she could be proud of. Will she conserve her lead to the end? Well. H.Koneru and Hou Yifan, with just a half point behind are strongly challenging her. Of course, neither A.Stefanova, nor T. Kosintseva have lost their hope to be crowned at this tournament.
Today, the game to watch is the one between T.Kosintseva and Zhao Xue. Both players are showing determination and self confidence. Who is best prepared, who will surprise her opponent, who will show more fighting spirit? Or will they settle for a peaceful game?
What an incredible day! 5 games out of 6 ended with a win!
And most of all, A. Stefanova, Zhao Xue, (despite losing today) and Hou Yifan are sharing 1st place with 5 points. In addition, H Koneru and T.Kosintseva are following with only half point behind.
At this moment no one can guess who will win this Grand Ptrix. The next days will bring certainly more exciting matches.
It is to notice also the convincing win of Yildiz Betul over Zhu Chen. The Turkish player is always fighting with strong will, and no question, one will have to count with her in the future.
It is rather sad that M.Sebag is totally out of form. Let’s hope she will show her true skill in the next rounds.
Batkhuyag Munguntuul – Koneru Humpy. 1 – 0
The game was played in Keres attack after 6.h3 move of Sicilian defense. World champion Robert Fisher of USA used to play this variation.
After Black 13…Qa5 it became apparent that a very sharp game will be played. White sacrifice 15.Nd5 is commonly used in Sicilian opening. Black could have developed interesting play by moves 17…Nb4 18.ab Qa2 19.Kc1 Rc8.
Though White was a piece less, they had enough opportunities to counterattack. After 25th move White regained a piece and began their winning attack and turned this game in their favor. Due to timing problems Black could not find the right defending moves.
Munguntuul: This game was a surprising play. My opponent previously did not play d6. I thought that in the opening move 10.f4 was too fast and Knight had to withdraw. I had an opportunity to begin a Keres attack. I did not like move g5. If my opponent did not move b4 my position would not have been that good. I did not calculate all lines after 15.Nd5, I just waited for a chance to attack. Anyway I was able to receive compensation. Maybe Humpy should have chosen another defense.
Humpy: 16..b3 was a good move, while 17…bc was wrong. After 17…bc it was difficult to defend. Anyway, I played passive defense and subsequently lost.
Munguntuul: After 17…Nb4 I’d responded with 18.c4. I could also sacrifice a Knight.
Q: Munguntuul, you said yesterday you did not play like Tal and prefer not to risk…
Munguntuul: After Queen’s move I went Kb1 and Nd5 is a common sacrifice in Sicilian opening. As of risky moves, it depends on the situation.
Q: How many times did you play against each other?
Munguntuul: We played together many times. As I remember, first time we played 1997 a tournament in junior category. Then I lost to Humpy at Chess Olympics and Asian Games. Last time we played this year at Grand Prix tournament in Nalchik. As of overall record, I would say it is a draw.
Chiburdanidze Maia – Sebag Marie 1 – 0
Slav defense was played. White began playing sharp and Black responded with all their forces. The game developed into a precarious position with White having more power in middlegame and Black having two Bishops. White continued to play actively and managed to win. Timing problems contributed to Black defeat.
Maia: The game was played in Slav defense. I should’ve played 17.Be2!? b3 18.Kf1 Nd5 19.Qh7. Actually I could have played better, not getting into difficult positions. Mostly I played by intuition. Time was also in short supply to find a strong move.
Q: What move by Marie was decisive in her defeat?
Maia: She should have taken Bf3, but she moved Ke7.
Hou Yifan – Shen Yang 1/2 – 1/2
The game was played in Berlin variation of Spanish opening. In this variation Black King has an extra pawn on White king side, but its position is not stable. However Black entered into solid and strong endgame with 2 Bishops. Endgame began with opponents having 2 rooks each, same line Bishops and equal number of pawns which led to draw conditions. Though Black managed to take a pawn, it did not affect the overall position.
Yang: Instead of move Ne6, Knight should have withdrawn Nf5. After exchange of pieces Black was in a slightly better position.
Q: How important is psychology in chess game?
Hou: I maintain that I can play against any opponent. I never get nervous and wary.
Yang: I try to concentrate on the game, not on opponent.
Q: During the game, why do you draw on your hand? Are you bored, Yang?
Yang: I play too fast, usually 40-50 minutes. So I keep saying to myself: do not hurry, think more.
Zhu Chen – Yildiz Betul. 0 – 1
A variation of Queen Gambit was played. White abandoned for some time their pawn. In middlegame White regained a pawn and had slight advantage. During shift from middlegame to endgame White overrated their position which was the basis for their defeat. White should have better paid attention to move 24. Rb1.
Q: Which style of play do you prefer: tactical or positional?
Betul: I usually prefer tactical play, but at this tournament there are much stronger opponents than me, so I have to play
depending on situation.
Zhu: I rather prefer positional play.