Report by Maria Emelianova
The fifth round of Women’s Grand Prix in Tashkent appeared to be lucky for the white side as five of the six games finished in favor of those who made the first move, and Antoaneta Stefanova managed to make a draw with the leader Humpy Koneru despite the Indian had a slightly better position.
Harika Dronavalli outplayed Elina Danielian to catch up her compatriot with 4 points, Kateryna Lagno and Zhao Xue are half-point behind them after beating Alexandra Kosteniuk and Olga Girya. Bela Khotenashvili has “+1” after defeating Guliskhan Nakhbayeva, and we have to point out a triumph of Nafisa Muminova over Ju Wenjun, which moved the leader of Uzbek female team to the middle of the standings table.
The game has started with Reti opening, but later metamorphosed into Catalan type of positions. Black’s pawn sacrifice became a confusion for the Indian. Beside the more time left on the clock, Elina had a comfortable position, but suddenly lost the game thread and after few inaccurate moves let her opponent go ahead to share the first place in the current standings.
Harika: “I didn’t expect a pawn sacrifice at all. I am not sure about the 7…Nc7, I think I even can play 10.d4. And I spent a lot of time for the unnecessary calculations of 12…Na5 after my 12.Nd2. And the quick response 12…Nd5 was a complete surprise for me. It was difficult to estimate my position due to the lack of time”
Elina: “I liked my position, it was easy to play. But 18…b5 was a terrible move. I should have played 18…g6”
Khotenashvili – Nakhbayeva 1 – 0
The sharp line of Catalan opening was played. White had a good initiative for the pawn, however with a solid Black’s counter play on the queen’s side, position was about equal, and the Kazakh even had a chance to grab the initiative, but a couple of mistakes immediately converted position to a nearly lost. After the returning blunder of Georgian by the only moves Guliskhan could equalize again, but didn’t find the right defense and soon resigned.
Bela: “I played the rare line, and expected 9…Ra6. After 12…Ba6 I was calculating 13.d5 too much, but didn’t find any advantage, so I decided to keep pressure with Rb1.”
Guliskhan: “35…Re2 was a mistake”
Lagno – Kosteniuk 1 – 0
Kateryna prepared a new (Be3, Rc1 followed by a4 and d4) idea in one of the most typical lines of English opening, and Alexandra underestimated all the threats for Black in this position.
Kateryna: “11.a4 is a new move.”
Alexandra: “I couldn’t believe that I can’t get enough compensation in this position. I should have reacted on this move”
Kateryna: “20…Nc4 was interesting for Black”
Alexandra: “I was calculating 21.Bxh6 with 21…gxh6 22.Nxe6 Rxe6 23.Rxc4 Rxe5 24.Bxb7 Rb8 25.Bf3”
Kateryna: “Yes, it was possible, but I don’t think I would capture on h6.”
Muminova – Ju Wenjun 1 – 0
Black seemed to have better position in Rauzer Sicilian, but the Chinese quite early found herself in a crucial time trouble and rather to increase her initiative, Wenjun lost two tempos for a worthless maneuver (23…Bd7, 24…Bc6). Nafisa very precise using all the benefits of Black’s passive position and built up a crucial attack on the king’s side.
Ju Wenjuin: “I was playing terrible after 23.Qd3. I should have played a3 at some point.”
Evgenij Miroshnichenko: “Maybe you could play 22…a3 immediately: 23.b3 Bb5 24.Rd5 Bxc4 25.bxc4 Qc6 26.Qd3 Rc8, and if you get into an endgame, it is almost winning for Black.”
Ju Wenjun: “Yes, maybe White is still solid, but of course it is better than what happened in the game.”
Stefanova – Koneru 1/2-1/2
In the Bogo-Indian defense Black got a little advantage, but it seemed that both players were happy with a peaceful result.
Antoaneta: “I underestimated 16…Qxd7. I thought I can play 17.Bxf6 but when she captured with the queen I didn’t like my position.
But at the end it was a logic result: I am just a bit passive but don’t have so many weaknesses”
Zhao – Girya 1 – 0
The Schlechter variation of Slav defense didn’t give any advantage to White, but Olga chose to open the position with e5 and at the end it was the source of Black’s troubles.
Xue: “I didn’t get anything special from the opening. Maybe 14…e5 was not good. If Black stay passive I don’t see how I can improve my position.”