The first game of Women’s Grand Prix in Tashkent became quite tough for the players. Three hours after the first move was made by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov in the game of Nafisa Muminova and Zhao Xue, most of the battles just reached the middle-games.
Four participants managed to score their first points in the tournament: top-seeded Humpy Koneru won the longest battle against Ju Wenjun, Antoaneta Stefanova and Zhao Xue outplayed the newcomers of the Grand Prix Series Guliskhan Nakhbayeva and Nafisa Muminova accordingly, and Harika Dronavalli succeeded against Bela Khotenashvili.
The games Elina Danielian against Alexandra Kosteniuk and Kateryna Lagno versus Olga Girya ended up in draws.
Lagno Kateryna – Girya Olga ½ – ½
Olga played Caro-Kann Defence, and Kateryna responded by the rare move 2.Ne2.
“It was a surprise for me”, – admit Russian on the press conference. After the unusual moves 5…Bf5 and 6…Bb1 Ukrainian got a slight advantage, but probably missed her chances forcing position to an endgame after 11.c6.
Kateryna: “I thought this endgame is better for white, but maybe it is a draw. I lost a tempo; the knight is already on e7… And at the end of the game I had to equalize, I think I was a bit worse. I think my opponent could have played 31…Rca7 and place the knight on d5 after Kf8. But still it is close to a draw.”
Muminova Nafisa – Zhao Xue 0 – 1
One more Caro-Kann Defence was played. “My opponent was responding too fast, so I decided to step away from the theoretical line (6…g6)”, – said Chinese on the press conference.
Nafisa was estimating the position quite aggressively, but missed the opportunities to hold the initiative by not playing Nxf7 on moves 15 and 16. Decisive mistake was the blunder under a time trouble 26.Nd8.
Zhao Xue: “I think after 15…Bd7 Black is better, but I am not sure: the game is very complicated. The weak pawn on c3 gave me the chances. I am very happy with the first game, this is very important for the tournament.”
Stefanova Antoaneta – Nakhbayeva Guliskhan 1 – 0
The White have chosen an unpretentious 4.e3 against Queen’s-Indian Defence, completely in style of Antoaneta, who rather prefers to play from a “blank sheet” than to enter long theoretical disputes.
Long time Black’s position looked fine, and Nafisa even could have punished the former world champion for too “original” playing with the strong 23…Nxd3 24.Rxd3 d4, but move by move Guliskhan started to make mistakes and made the final blunder on 40th move.
Antoaneta: “I think the mistake was 26…c4. Before that probably I already had better position, but after c4 I have a lot of choices to improve it. 27.Qh4 was important move, because whenever my opponent takes on d4, I will take bishop with the queen. Before the 40th move, I think, position was about drawish”
Guliskhan: “Yes, I couldn’t find anything for White after 40…Qd6, but it was too late – I already played Qc7.”
Danielian Elina – Kosteniuk Alexandra ½ – ½
Alexandra has played the Nimzowitch Defence, but after the reverse of the moves position is more similar to the Ragozin Defence. However, White couldn’t get anything from the opening, and the game was going quite logically, until a few inaccuracies from Alexandra before the time control. Moves 35…Ne5 and 37…Nb2 made Black close to, but Elina didn’t find 47.e4 instead of 47.Rd7 and offered a draw before the perpetual check.
Alexandra: “After the opening we entered a classical position with an isolated pawn. There was a lot of possibilities in the game but difficult to choose what to do. I played 21…Ne4, but then didn’t find anything better than to go back on d6. After exchange on b4 I had completely no idea what to do. I had just 10 minutes to find any plan, and position is very concrete, so I needed to find the maneuvering. I liked the move Ne5 during the game, but didn’t have enough time to calculate all variations”
Dronavalli Harika – Khotenashvili Bela 1 – 0
The game made up a strange impression. Before the 18th move Bela had around one minute on her clock, and this was a decisive factor. Harika just needed to find tactics after Black’s mistake 19…Qd6 (after a correct 19…Rac8 White would have just a slight advantage), and afterwards, despite the mutual inaccuracies, Indian has managed to win the game.
Harika: “I was calculating 12…Bf6 instead of 12…g6”
Bela: “Yes, I wanted to play this, but then changed my mind”
Harika: “I was happy with my position, but when I saw the tactics after the 19th move, I immediately went to this”
Koneru Humpy – Ju Wenjun 1 – 0
The battle between first- and third-seeded players of the tournament has become the longest and the most difficult game of the round. Humpy played Makogonov Variation against King’s Indian Defence, which is regularly played by Chinese. Ju Wenjun has reacted in not the best way and her position deserved to be worried about. Despite a few inaccuracies, Humpy kept putting pressure at the opposite coloured bishops and rooks endgame. Maybe for computer the position was defendable, but Chinese didn’t manage to protect all the weaknesses and had to resign on 70th move.
By Emelianova Maria