The third leg of the Series is taking place in the Mövenpick Hotel in Ouchy, a beautiful area by the lake in Lausanne. Several spectators gathered at the venue for the start of the first round, but the organizers are particularly enthusiastic about the growing interest which arouses from the online broadcast. Live commentary, interviews with guests and players, everything is made to satisfy the audience online.
The games of the inaugural round were mostly tense, even though all of them ended in a draw. World Champion Ju Wenjun played a Berlin Defense against newcomer Zhansaya Abdumalik. In spite of the symmetrical pawn structure which appeared early on, things were anything but clear. The talented Kazakh got a slight initiative at the cost of misplacing her rook on the f file. The strategic battle turned around this awkward piece, and it slowly looked as if the Chinese would be able to outplay her young opponent. Yet, Abdumalik sensed the right moment to simplify and offer a draw.
Aleksandra Goryachkina, the other proclaimed favourite of the event, played an interesting game with the white pieces against her countrywoman Alina Kashlinskaya. She could have secured an edge with 21.Bb5, with the idea to use her passed pawn later on. Instead of this, she simplified and had to suffer a little to make a draw.
The winner of the second Grand Prix leg in Monaco, Alexandra Kosteniuk, did not play a very successful opening. The Russian soon lagged in development, and Nana Dzagnidze might have played in a more forceful way to try and use her initiative. After the exchange of some pieces, the game dried up and both players agreed a draw on move 42.
The encounter between Harika Dronavalli and Pia Cramling was balanced. In her typical classical style, the Swedish legend got a solid position with the black pieces. The apparent passivity was compensated for by the long-term asset of the two bishops. As both grandmasters played with care, none of them managed to outwith the other and the game ended on a move repetition.
With hindsight, Marie Sebag regretted accepting her opponent´s draw offer. It is true that Antoaneta Stefanova kept some pressure throughout the game, but after simplifications, the French suddenly emerged with a better ending.
As usual, both Muzychuk sisters decided to avoid a fight in a classical tournament game and quickly repeated moves after the opening.
Results of the first round:
Aleksandra Goryachkina (RUS) – Alina Kashlinskaya (RUS) ½-½
Alexandra Kosteniuk (RUS) – Nana Dzagnidze (GEO) ½-½
Zhansaya Abdumalik (KAZ) – Ju Wenjun (CHN) ½-½
Antoaneta Stefanova (BLG) – Marie Sebag (FRA) ½-½
Harika Dronavalli (IND) – Pia Cramling (SWE) ½-½
Anna Muzychuk (UKR) – Mariya Muzychuk (UKR) ½-½
Program of round 2, 3 March at 3 pm:
Alina Kashlinskaya (RUS) – Mariya Muzychuk (UKR)
Pia Cramling (SWE) – Anna Muzychuk (UKR)
Marie Sebag (FRA) – Harika Dronavalli (IND)
Ju Wenjun (CHN) – Antoaneta Stefanova (BLG)
Nana Dzagnidze (GEO) – Zhansaya Abdumalik (KAZ)
Aleksandra Goryachkina (RUS) – Alexandra Kosteniuk (RUS)
All the action can be followed live with commentary by grandmasters Mikhail Gurevich and Keti Tsatsalashvili on the tournament website http://wgp2019.fide.com . Pictures in high resolution are available for the press at our official Flickr account.
Text: Yannick Pelletier
Photos: David Llada