Alexandra: I did not like my position, so, probably, I just mixed up some lines because I played this line for the first time and it looked dangerous. It is not only the question of space, but about a very easy plan that Black had, they just wanted to checkmate White and their position was strategically better. Black had some direct threats but maybe White could hold the position, I am not sure about that, but anyway it is quite difficult to do during the practical game.
Anastasia: What do you think, Yifan? Were you satisfied with the opening?
Yifan: In the opening my opponent plays d4 not very often and it is not my preparation for today. I just played the line which I choose usually. I think that opening was very complicated. I think that maybe sometimes she can play f3 if it’s possible and then her position will be much safer. Maybe after I changed the knight on e4 and played g4 – this position is better for me, but before these moves I am not sure about that.
Alisa Galliamova – Antoanetta Stefanova
Anastasia: The game Galliamova vs Stefanova has come to its end, white has won. Can you tell me if you are satisfied the way the opening went on.
Alisa: Till the last moment I did not know which variation to play in the opening. Suddenly it came to me in a flash that Antoanetta would play this variation: she will make dc whereas usually she plays kd7. I was telling to my coach to check this variation dc, b5. He started checking in the computer but there was few time left before the start of the round. In the variant which Antoanetta played my coach said that I may sacrifice all pawns of the Queen’s line for there is an initiative. But I did not have time to ask how to play after that. I sacrificed a lot and went to this position. I was thinking about each move: to sacrifice or defense. Antoanetta would not stop and continued taking everything. I did not have any other way but to go for this variation.
Anastasia: at what point your theoretical knowledge ended?
Alisa: after g3 they were over, but I was sure about my position. At the same time I did not have enough material and simply I was afraid…
Аntoaneta: well, I felt it was dangerous to take all these pawns, but somehow I could not stop myself. I don’t know what is the real assessment of the position. Of course, White had compensation but if Black can hold it or not – only computers are able to estimate. The truth is that it is difficult to play this position. I spent too much time and for the critical moments I had no time left, therefore it was very easy to make a mistake.
Anastasia: What do you think when was the last mistake?
Antoaneta: I don’t know, c5 probably. The problem is that I saw this variation before, that’s why I played Qd3. I saw this line with bishop b7 and queen f3 whatever, but somehow after Rd1 it was not easy to find the move without time.
Kateryna Lahno – Anna Muzychuk
Anastasia: Tell me please how was the game developing and where were your preparations over? We had a feeling that White were ready to fight seriously.
Anna: I played the Scotch Defense with knight b3, it was not the main one but many grandmasters apply it. Further one everything was going according to the theory, the only thing is that I did not know Katya’s plan with Bе3, а6, b5. I still think that it was not the best, she should have played Bе6 and then tried to play Nе5, because in fact what we got as a result passed over to the Philidor structure where White had space and it was easier for them to organize the attack.
Аnastasia: Where do you think Katya made a mistake?
Anna: If we do not take the opening into account, I think that she made a mistake by playing rook е8. It seemed to me that Nе5 was more active.
Аnastasia: Katya, what do you think at what moment you made a mistake and whether you were ready for the variation with Nb3, it was rare indeed and is not played very often.
Kateryna: Certainly I remembered this variation and as far as I am aware, Black can equalize the position and it seems that White have nothing and nevertheless the position of Black is a little passive. So, I decided to play a6, b5 and maybe that was not correct already and then at one moment I decided that on bishop b5 I will play а4 and I think it was not possible there. The thing is that White can play Bс6, capture my rook on а8 and make a move Qа7 that I completely forgot about. At that moment the position was lost. In fact the game was finished after the 15th move.
Anastasia: You come from the same region and since you were small you always played in the Ukrainian, European and World Championships…does this fact influence on your present games at the chess board? Was it difficult for you psychologically to play this game today?
Anna: Indeed starting from the very first game when we were 6 years old we played many games with Katya. We had to play only for the first places in the Ukrainian Championships to qualify to the World Championships and it only made the pressure more intense. The result of approximately last 10 games that we played together was a draw, therefore we got used to it already (laughing). We always got along very well with Katya, we do play as opponents at the chess board however it does not influence our relations.
Kateryna: The question is rather unexpected. I have never given a thought to it and I try to think only about chess at every game, because if I start thinking about anything else, it will be too much.
Elina Danielian – Ekaterina Kovalevskaya
Anastasia: Will you please speak on the game development in which, as it seemed, there was a dynamic equality. I had a feeling that Black equaled …
Ekaterina: Exactly and as usual, unfortunately, I did not have much time left and at the end I made a mistake.
Anastasia: Were you satisfied with the opening development?
Ekaterina: Yes, of course.
Elina: In any case I also liked my position, it was not risky, so I think that it is more pleasant to face such positions playing White. I believe that even if one does not play bishop f5 and just making moves instead, still it is not easy to play Black, because White’s play was more active and clear. Moreover, Katya was in time-trouble …
Anastasia: Tell me please, it should be hard to play against friends or you do not pay attention to it?
Elina: Frankly speaking, this is the case for me and it has always been.
Ekaterina: I am sorry but this is not my case. I played against my best friend with whom I lived for months at the World Championship. That is why psychologically it is not that difficult for me since I am used to it. We had a very serious fight and each of us wanted to win, so your attitude is more philosophic here.
Elina: Yes, of course, you do get used to it, but still it is hard to play against friends.
Anastasia: Thank you for your comments.
Humpy Koneru – Ruan Lufei
Anastasia: It looked like you were trying to avoid some theoretical lines in the opening, weren’t you?
Humpy: yes I just wanted to play something new which I didn’t play before so I played a bit different way in the opening but position became very normal. I think I had slightly better position but in one point instead of b6 Black Bc6 b4 rd8 and if white play b5 black has Be4. I think it was a good opportunity for Black to equalise the game because after that I had better position till the end.
Lufei: I think everything was ok in the opening. I think it was too early to break through the center. I think I had more chances to hold the position. I belive it became lost completely when I played 29…f6 and gave a pawn.
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