There are 2 rounds till the end of the 5th FIDE Women Grand Prix. Hou Yifan is leading the tournament, having scored 6.5 points out of 9. Both Humpy Koneru and Antoaneta Stefanova are half of the point behind.
Chiburdanidze Maia – Hou Yifan. 1/2 – 1/2
The game was played in Ragozin system of Queen Gambit. 7.h3 was previously played in Chiburdanidze – Kosintseva match. Black sacrificed a pawn to play sharp. White could have played 11.f4 to defend their pawn but would have faced a counterattack. Afterwards, before entering middlegame, both parties consented to draw by repetition.
Maia: Speaking honestly, I did not expect this opening. 7.h3 is interesting move, but I did not remember variations. At the final position I could try 11.f4 but it seemed dangerous. Game ended in a draw by repetition of moves.
Hou: Yes, it was an interesting opening. I thought 11.a3 was a preferable move.
Q: Yesterday was a day off. At the initiative of Mongolian Sport Committee that day was declared a Day of Chess and a chess class in Mongolian Sport School was named after you, Maia. What are your feelings?
Maia: It was much unexpected and, of course, very pleasant. I hope to help to the class.
Q: Hou, you are leading this tournament with 2 rounds left. What are your objectives for last games?
Hou: The score is too close to jump into conclusions. Though only 2 rounds are left, there are many players to claim the top spot. Anyway, I will try to do my best.
Kosintseva Tatiana – Koneru Humpy. 1/2 – 1/2
The game was started with Philidor Defense. Both players entered the middlegame probing each other’s position. White took the initiative and prepared central play with advance e4-e5. Black summoned all their forces to successful defense, after some changes the game transformed into the equal queen ending.
Tatiana: We played Philidor Defense, it was a complicated and maneuvers filled game. I think I had some advantage but due to pressure of timing I made several incorrect moves and had to settle for a draw. I thought about 35.g4 instead of 35.Nf6 but decided it was dangerous.
Humpy: It was an interesting game. I Nb1-d2 was a good planning, regrouping of pieces. White had good chances, but in time-troubles, could not find the best line.
Q: Humpy, have you played Philidor Defense before?
Humpy: I chose this opening for the first time in my career, it was interesting to try a new variant.
Q: This tournament is nearing to its end. How do you usually play in decisive games?
Humpy: Every game is difficult to play in this strong tournament. So in concluding games I plan my play according to tournament situation and opponent I am facing.
Tatiana: Yes, every game is complicated here. Though final games are decisive, I strive to play well in every game. I hope last games I will play my best.
Q: You all invest most of your time to chess. Can you tell about your social life, how do you spend your free time, how your friends see your profession?
Humpy: I do not play chess too often, only 7-8 tournaments yearly. I try to spend my free time with my family, my sister. I also like the company of my friends and go walking, do shopping.
Tatiana: Most of my time is dedicated to my profession – chess. Otherwise I do just all the ordinary things, spend time with my friends for example.
Batkhuyag Munguntuul – Yildiz Betul. 1 – 0
Ruy López variation was developed. After series of exchanges game shifted to the middlegame, where pawn d6 was weak. Black responded with a counterplay on queenside. Under White initiative and excellent move 30.Bb6 a pawn was gained, White played well until the end and won in Rook endgame.
Munguntuul: Spanish opening was played. After move 20.b4 I get an initiative, pawn can not to be taken. Then I took control under “c” file, had 2 extra pawns and won the game.
Betul: I lost a pawn in the middlegame, but had good chances to draw in Rook ending. Made mistakes and lost.
Q: Munguntuul, what was your psychological state?
Munguntuul: Though yesterday was a day off and I had a good rest, I tried not to be complacent and concentrated myself on this game.
Zhao Xue – Xu Yuhua. 0 – 1
New Indian defense was played. Queens were exchanged early and White puts the pressure on “d” pawn. The exchange sacrifice was mistakable, 21.Nd6 Rb3 22. Ne4, not taking any risks, deserves attention.
Xu: Black made a good opening and after exchange of Queens had some advantage. 21.Rd6 was a mistake, they should have played Rd3. So Black finished this game with a victory.
Zhao: I do not know what to say, I just lost.
Q: Women chess players are very ambitious. What drives you to play each game till the end?
Xu: Women players are very competitive, they try to use all chances and opponent’s mistakes and constantly fight to the end.