The games of the Grand Prix were slightly less tense on Saturday than on previous days, but spectators still had their share of excitement.Aleksandra Goryachkina got an edge from the opening against Elisabeth Paehtz. The Russian methodically increased it throughout the game and reached a winning Rook endgame. Yet, finding the only right path was far from trivial. The World Championship challenger stumbled at the last difficult moment and had to content herself with a draw. A victory would have allowed her to catch the leader Humpy Koneru, who made a draw with Kateryna Lagno. This game followed a well-known variation of the Grunfeld, where Black gets sufficient compensation for a sacrificed pawn. The Indian showed nothing new and agreed to a move repetition early on.
Anna Muzychuk had Alexandra Kosteniuk on the ropes, when the Russian played inaccurately after the opening. Muzychuk’s decision to sacrifice the exchange proved unwise, as this allowed her opponent to remain in the game. After the exchange of Queens, it became clear that only Kosteniuk could play for a win. White had to play precisely in order to hold the Knight vs Rook endgame, but she made mistakes and lost.
Valentina Gunina started the game with aggressive intentions, as witnesses her choice 7.g4. Harika Dronavalli reacted solidly and both players soon simplified on the queenside to reach an equal position. The game seemed to head to a draw, when the Russian spurned a move repetition and played for more. Gunina’s decision was hardly justified, inasmuch she has been clearly out of form in this event, and the position did not offer much. She blundered immediately after with 31.Bf7 and lost her Rook. A sad and painful outcome for her.
The game between Mariya Muzychuk and Zhao Xue was a very complicated struggle. The Chinese played in very inspired fashion after the opening and gained a promising position, where the white King was exposed. Muzychuk cleverly exploited her opponent’s lack of time to mess things up. With more time on the clock, Zhao Xue may have found the few exact moves to win the game. In the end, the Ukrainian escaped with a draw.
Pia Cramling did not challenge Nana Dzagnidze’s Vienna Variation and chose a risk-free line. White’s extra pawn proved worthless with opposite-colored Bishops on the board, and both opponents agreed to a draw on move 32.
More and more players gather behind the sole leader Humpy Koneru. In the 6th round on Sunday, the Indian will have the black pieces against one of her pursuers, Alexandra Kosteniuk.
Results of round 5:
Pia Cramling (Swe) – Nana Dzagnidze (Geo): ½ - ½
Anna Muzychuk (Ukr) – Alexandra Kosteniuk (Rus): 0-1
Mariya Muzychuk (Ukr) – Zhao Xue (China): ½ - ½
Valentina Gunina (Rus) – Harika Dronavalli (Ind): 0-1
Aleksandra Goryachkina (Rus) – Elisabeth Paehtz (Ger): ½ - ½
Humpy Koneru (Ind) – Kateryna Lagno (Rus): ½ - ½
Standings after round 5:
1. Humpy Koneru 3½ points
2-6. Nana Dzagnidze, Harika Dronavalli, Aleksandra Goryachkina, Alexandra Kosteniuk and Pia Cramling 3
7-9., Zhao Xue, Mariya Muzychuk and Anna Muzychuk 2½
10. Kateryna Lagno 2
11-12. Valentina Gunina and Elisabeth Paehtz 1
Round 6, 8 December at 3 pm:
Nana Dzagnidze (Geo) – Kateryna Lagno (Rus)
Alexandra Kosteniuk (Rus) – Humpy Koneru (Ind)
Zhao Xue (China) – Anna Muzychuk (Ukr)
Harika Dronavalli (Ind) – Mariya Muzychuk (Ukr)
Elisabeth Paehtz (Ger) – Valentina Gunina (Rus)
Pia Cramling (Swe) – Aleksandra Goryachkina (Rus)
Official website with live games and commentary by WGM Keti Tsatsalashvili, GM Josif Dorfman and GM Bartlomiej Heberla: https://wgp2019.fide.com
Pictures are available on our official Flickr channel.
Text: Yannick Pelletier
Pictures: Karol Bartnik