Round 5: Ju Wenjun and Valentina Gunina keep lead in Skolkovo

The first game to come to an end was the clash between Elisabeth Paethz (2479) and the tournament co-leader Ju Wenjun (2576). The World Champion went for a Petrov defence, and some early exchanges quickly lead to a dull position, in which the players found no better option than a threefold repetition on move 23. The German IM seemed to be particularly unsatisfied with the outcome of the game (her fifth consecutive draw in the tournament), while Ju Wenjun took it as a good result: the top-seeded is playing quite solid, avoiding unnecessary risks in the tournament.

A much more dramatic turn took the game of the other co-leader, Valentina Gunina (2502), against the former World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova (2491). The Russian Grandmaster went wrong in the opening and soon found herself under the fire of heavy artillery. Her King was cornered in the open h-file, and it looked like if she was about to get checkmated in spectacular fashion. In a hopeless situation, Gunina found the most aggressive ways to complicate the position. Stefanova started to consume lots of time in her moves, so much so that this was the last game to finish. With a rook down and thanks to her opponent's time trouble, Gunina found a way to save the game with perpetual check. She added half-point to her score and with 3,5 points she managed to keep pace with Ju Wenjun.
The only decisive game of the round five was the victory of Kateryna Lagno (2545) over Pia Cramling (2487). In a Rauzer Variation pieces were quickly traded, and the position came down to an endgame with one rook and knight per side. Lagno had a majority of pawns on the queenside, but it looked completely equal until Cramling blundered with 36…Nc6. A simple tactic left Kateryna with two connected passed pawns, that eventually costed Pia her knight, and the game.
Indian number one female player Koneru Humpy (2560) made a short draw with the World Championship Challenger, and this Women's Grand Prix youngest participant, Aleksandra Goryachkina (2564). It was a Slav Defense with symmetrical pawn structure, the rooks were quickly traded in the open c-file, and a draw was agreed on move 27.

Harika Dronavalli (2503) achieved a significant advantage in a Scotch Game against former World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk (2495). Harika tried to convert the positional edge into a material advantage, but Kosteniuk's energetic counterplay forced a massive piece exchange. Players agreed on a draw with only rooks, opposite colour bishops, and three pawns each in the kingside.
The Classical Variation of the Petrov's Defense was played between Marie Sebag (2450) and Alina Kashlinskaya (2487). Both opponents chose a risk-free approach, and the game ended with a draw on move 27.

Standings after 5 rounds:
The sixth-round games will be played on September 16, at 3 pm local time (GMT +3).

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Text: Keti Tsatsalashvili
Photos: David Llada