The symbolic first move was played on Thursday by Simon Fellus, General Secretary of the World Bridge Association. In the subsequent interview, he drew comparisons between the two mind games and praised FIDE for promoting the activity of women in chess.
Two of the five leaders were pitted against each other in this 4th round. Nana Dzagnidze tried a different version of the London System from the one which had brought her success in round two. The outcome of the opening was clearly less satisfactory, as Harika Dronavalli quickly got a pleasant position. The Indian was ready to torture her opponent for a long time when Dzagnidze blundered a Rook and resigned on move 27. Dronavalli felt sorry for her opponent afterward and admitted that she is always reluctant to win in such an abrupt way.
Another leader managed to win her game and keep pace with Dronavalli. Aleksandra Goryachkina admitted after the game that she was unhappy with her play overall, as she felt that she should have gained a definite advantage against Antoaneta Stefanova’s treatment of the Pirc Defence. Indeed, the game was about equal around move 15, and only the 23rd move of the Bulgarian paved the way to defeat.
The tournament is not going well for Alexandra Kosteniuk, as she lost her third game in a row and is clear last. The opening was a Ruy Lopez, where Zhansaya Abdumalik obtained a closed and balanced position. The key moment came on move 20 when Kosteniuk spurned 20.Ndc4, thus allowing Black to open the center with d5. The young Kazakh seized the initiative and did not look back. Her attack flowed and she eventually forced resignation on move 37 due to imminent mate.
Two draws were particularly exciting and finished quite late in the evening. Alina Kashlinskaya tried a daring Knight sacrifice on g7 and felt that the attack should be decisive. But Pia Cramling has seen all sorts of offensives from formidable opponents in her rich career. She remained calm, unimpressed, and repelled White’s threats. The Russian should be praised for keeping as much tension as possible after that. As fatigue grew, Cramling failed to show the best technique and had to satisfy herself with half a point.
Exactly as in round two, Ju Wenjun failed to convince against the Grunfeld Opening. Star commentator Mikhail Gurevich opined that she should have played 11.e5, as after 11.Bd3, Anna Muzychuk quickly got a nice position. Shortly after, the Ukrainian made the typical positional exchange sacrifice on f3. Was it really necessary? Did she think that Black would be better after this? In any case, the game remained in a dynamic balance until the endgame, when both players agreed to a draw.
The encounter between Marie Sebag and Mariya Muzychuk followed the same opening as in the second round of the French against Dronavalli. Black improved with 7...Bb7, and the game remained fairly equal throughout. Sebag sacrificed a pawn, but her activity was only sufficient for a draw.
The 5th round on Friday features the battle of the leaders, as Harika Dronavalli will lead the white pieces against Aleksandra Goryachkina.
Results of round 4:
Alina Kashlinskaya (RUS) – Pia Cramling (SWE) ½-½
Marie Sebag (FRA) – Mariya Muzychuk (UKR) ½-½
Ju Wenjun (CHN) – Anna Muzychuk (UKR) ½-½
Nana Dzagnidze (GEO) – Harika Dronavalli (IND) 0-1
Aleksandra Goryachkina (RUS) – Antoaneta Stefanova (BLG) 1-0
Alexandra Kosteniuk (RUS) – Zhansaya Abdumalik (KAZ) 0-1
Standings after round 4:
1-2. Harika Dronavalli (IND) and Aleksandra Goryachkina (RUS) - 3 points.
3.-4. Anna Muzychuk (UKR) and Alina Kashlinskaya (RUS) - 2½ points.
5.-8. Pia Cramling (SUE), Mariya Muzychuk (UKR) Nana Dzagnidze (GEO) and Zhansaya Abdumalik (KAZ) - 2 points
9.-11. Ju Wenjun (CHN), Antoaneta Stefanova (BUL) and Marie Sebag (FRA) - 1½ points.
12. Alexandra Kosteniuk (RUS) - ½ point.
Program of round 5, 6 March at 3 pm:
Zhansaya Abdumalik (KAZ) – Alina Kashlinskaya (RUS)
Antoaneta Stefanova (BLG) – Alexandra Kosteniuk (RUS)
Harika Dronavalli (IND) – Aleksandra Goryachkina (RUS)
Anna Muzychuk (UKR) – Nana Dzagnidze (GEO)
Mariya Muzychuk (UKR) – Ju Wenjun (CHN)
Pia Cramling (SWE) – Marie Sebag (FRA)
Follow all the action 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