Two points ahead with only two rounds to go 19.04.2014
News, News feature
The Hou Yifan Express turned into a jet-propelled aircraft after today’s win over her main contender for the 1st place, the Russian Olga Girya. In a very entertaining and sharp game, the Chinese claimed the point and is now enjoying a two points lead of the second place.
The amazing string of victories of the Russian star, Olga Girya, was disturbed today by the tournament leader, yet she is the only one who technically can still catch up with Hou Yifan, as she is alone with 5.5/9 on the second position.
Still on the third place but now shared with two more players, is Anna Muzychuk, who lost against Alexandra Kosteniuk. The Russian GM joined her on 5/9, the same as the Georgian GM, Nana Dzagnidze, after mercilessly defeating Antoaneta Stefanova right on her birthday.
Only two players are on 50%: Anna Ushenina and Kateryna Lagno, who both failed to break the defense of Batchimeg Tuvshintugs and Nafisa Muminova, respectively. For the Uzbek player, Khanty Mansiysk will have a special place in the drawers of memory, as it was here she scored her last needed third IM norm, after holding Kateryna Lagno to a draw!
Just half a point behind, with 4/9 are: Nafisa Muminova, Zhao Xue and Antoaneta Stefanova, followed by Tatiana Kosintseva on 3 points and Batchimeg Tuvshintugs with 2, after troubleing Kateryna Lagno by stealing an important half a point.
R9 in progress
The long awaited direct confrontation between the leader, Hou Yifan, and her closest rival, Olga Girya, has come. Olga seems to be starting with a psychological disadvantage. It is not so much about playing with Black, but rather that a draw would secure her the final grandmaster norm. In case of losing, her rating performance would be just a few points below 2600, meaning that she would miss the norm by a whisker. Will Olga be able to give it all for this battle, leaving half-measures aside?
Nafisa Muminova is the second norm contender – a draw would secure her international master norm. She plays with Black, too, but doesn’t have to live with the pressure of the fight for the first place, so things might be ‘simpler’ for her than for Olga.
Last but not least, Antoaneta Stefanova celebrates her birthday. We can only be curious what kind of rabbit she will pull out of her “opening Magician” hat today…
Hou Yifan – Olga Girya 1-0
Clearly the most awaited game of round 9!
In a typical Scheveningen Sicilian style, with certain queenside strategic achievements for Black but strong kingside pressure for White, both players seemed to have been surprised by the opponents choice, since they spent important amounts of time. Things can get very sharp and it is not clear which is the final word of theory in such lines… It can just be very messy; for example after 20…g6 21.Qh3 Black has a choice between 21…Nxf4 22.Ng4 e5 23.Rxf4 and 21…f5.
All or nothing in China vs Russia!
During the press conference, Olga told us she had assessed 21…Nxf4 as simply too dangerous to even calculate, which is of course understandable, given White’s scary-looking attack.
After a long thought, the Russian played the passive 21…Bd7 leaving White with free hands to carry out her attack. And obviously, Hou Yifan did just that, happily taking her chance to make the impressive move:
29.Rxh5! gxh5 30.Bf6 Rxf6 31.Qxf6 leaving the enemy king with serious injuries. In spite of the lack of time on the clock, the Chinese played very precise, strangled Black’s position further and won an excellent game, which gives her a lead of two full points!
Hou Yifan just secured the 1st place
We can almost say that Hou Yifan is the winner of the Khanty Mansiysk FIDE Women GP, although there are two more rounds to go! The only one who can still, theoretically speaking, catch up with her is the same Olga Girya, who, unfortunately, missed her GM norm today…yet, with two rounds left, she is second in the standings and with very good chances to make her norm in an even better scenario: from 11 rounds instead of 9!
Anna Muzychuk – Alexandra Kosteniuk 0-1
Alexandra Kosteniuk combined two different plans in the Catalan opening. 4…Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 is usually intended as an introduction to a hybrid form of the closed system, but Alexandra captured on c4 before castling. With the bishop on d2 and the d4-pawn hanging, White couldn’t retrieve the pawn with Nf3-e5; moreover, Muzychuk didn’t find the best way of organizing her pressure in the center and saw herself without enough compensation for the pawn…
Up to move 21, it went Alexandra’s way, but then her 21…Re8 gave just the amount of air White needed to breath in and untie himself with the strong, and played by Anna, 22.Qc4and 23.Nc1, where suddenly Black’s pieces are awkwardly placed; instead, 21…Qb7 would have set up all kinds of tricks on the diagonal; for example if 22.Qc4 (just like in the game) then 22…Ne3 follows! And then again, the time trouble showed its scary head in the worst possible moment: when the position became messy and very complicated.
26.Nb3 that Anna played loses by force, as Alexandra proved with 26…Ng4, hitting on f2, the knight on b3 is also suffering, as well as the bishop on e5. Instead, 26.Bc7 or 26.Nd3 would have been better alternatives and, perhaps, White can even play for more.
Having pressed the entire day and after very powerful moves, Alexandra decided it was about time to prove she is not just the moral winner of the game but also the one to take the point just before move 40.
What started as a shaky tournament for Alexandra, began to take more and more shape of an actually good event, to the injury of her opponent, who suffered two painful losses in a row – free days are not good for Anna…
Nana Dzagnidze – Antoaneta Stefanova 1-0
Starting with a Triangle-system move order, the game soon transposed to a genuine Stonewall Dutch. Although there is no forced theory in this setup, we cannot call Black’s play experimental. It may be that on her birthday Antoaneta decided to play something very classical?
Not a very enjoyable birthday for Antoaneta…
Curiously, both ladies thought an awful while in the opening, around half an hour each for just eight moves.
Black’s 9…b6 might have been premature, forcing Black to answer 10.cxd5 with 10…cxd5(since 10…exd5 loses a pawn to 11.Qc2). The symmetrical re-capture is known to favour White and, indeed, Nana Dzagnidze managed to develop strong queenside initiative soon.
And yet, which should be the right approach to maneuver your way out of these long, strategical battles? The Georgian came up with the very original, but perhaps slow, plan:15.Bc1, trying to reroute the bishop and exchange it on the stronger colleague from d6. Stronger might have been to increase the pressure with 15.Rfc1, Nfe5 etc.
Nana Dzagnidze now on the third place!
In the end though, the game continuation favoured White, as Antoaneta couldn’t restrain her aggressive style, choosing the double-edged plan with g5, followed by g4, weakening the dark squares. The Georgian didn’t let her chance vanish, played precisely: 24.Bxe4!and 25.Bd2, increasing her advantage. Probably Antoaneta should have gone later on for 25…Bxe2!? 26.Bh6 Bf3! with excellent compensation. With the clock ticking the time away, Black’s dark squares suffered more and more of loneliness and soon Nana asked a very dangerous question with an exchange sacrifice:
33.Rxd5! Although not a necessary one, as White could have continued with the more quiet 33.Kg2, the game move was even more difficult for Black, from a practical point of view.
Soon Antoaneta couldn’t hold her position together and got one of the most unpleasant ‘presents’ for a chess player’s birthday: a defeat. For the Georgian player though, today’s win is very important, as it propels her all the way up to a shared third place.
Kateryna Lagno – Nafisa Muminova 1/2
Kateryna Lagno perhaps mixed up something in the opening, as she was burning a lot of time on her clock. But Nafisa Muminova’s developing plan with 10…Bf5 may also not be the most flexible. Another option would have been the laborious regrouping …b6, Bb7, Ne6, Q somewhere and c5.
Still, Black should be completely fine after the game continuation, too. And yet, Nafisa’s rook maneuver was certainly creative but a bit too sophisticated, as the rook from a8 reached the d5-square via an ingenious route: a8-e8-e6-g6-g5-d5. This took too much time, enough for Katya to claim the advantage.
Kateryna handed an important half a point to her opponent
White has tremendous pressure on the e-file and tried to increase it with the natural26.g4, planning to continue with f4 and f5; however, a well timed 26…h5 and 28…Rg5, yes, the same restless rook, gave Black enough defensive resources. Future analysis will have to prove how White should have pressed forward…
When the moment came to collect, Katya stumbled under time pressure, White’s advantage disappeared after the unfortunate queens’ exchange and the game eventually liquidated into an opposite colour bishops endgame. More practical problems Lagno could have posed her opponent with 36.Bxc7, but this didn’t happen and soon the game ended in a very good draw for the Uzbek. She is now the proud holder of her third very much wanted IM norm!
Chasing now the 2400 quota for the IM title!
Tatiana Kosintseva – Zhao Xue 1/2
In the usual style of the 4.d3-Berlin, a slow maneuvering started, where it is not clear if the Chinese’s plan was the best one in the position: she went for the natural but not too effective 11…Be6 and 12…Qc7, where White is slowly taking over. The other plan, perhaps not the B but the A-plan, was with …h6, …Nh7, …Qf6/Ng5.
This time Tatiana didn’t hesitate anymore, outplayed the Chinese in the middlegame, bought herself a dream position with bishop pair and attack…
Not a game for the faint-hearted
Zhao Xue though, stubbornly defended a difficult position, coming up with with a very good way to complicate matters: an exchange sacrifice:
35…Rxd4! 36.Qf5 – offer declined; 36…Re4 – White is invited again to take the rook, which Tatiana couldn’t refuse anymore. Therefore, she converted her advantage into an endgame with an exchange up but there were still some technical difficulties present in the position.
In the end these technical issues proved too much and Zhao Xue escaped with a draw, although in the mutual time trouble by the end of the game, it was even Kosintseva who had to take care a bit, so as to at least secure half a point.
After 75 moves and 5.5 hour of play, the players decided to make peace and a draw was agreed.
Batchimeg Tuvshintugs – Anna Ushenina 1/2
Batchimeg didn’t expect the Queen’s Gambit Accepted, as she reacted not in the most precise manner. The concept with 5.Qxd4?! is not in the spirit of the position. (The critical line is 3.Bxc4). Black was already better in the endgame resulted barely out of the opening.
Hunting for a way to win
Although, far from winning, Anna Ushenina enjoyed her comfortable position the entire game but couldn’t find better methods to make the most of it and had to accept a draw right after the time control. Nothing left to play for, when K+N vs K+B is left on the board.
Time for wishing you all Happy Easter, hoping that the players will have some well-deserved good time, but… keeping in mind that there are two more days of hard fight left!
I would like to thank everyone for thinking of me today. I received more than 10,000 birthday wishes on twitter, facebook, skype, email, messages, etc. It was wonderful to be able to spend it with my family, and all my students from Webster University SPICE chess team.
Attacking Chess 1 - IM Valeri Lilov Posted on April 18,2014 By OnlineChessLessons.NET Contributor in Strategy & Game Review, Chess Openings, All Articles w/ Videos, General Chess Articles. Try this if you want to Attack! The following is a preview of Attacking Chess 1 - IM Valeri Lilov of the ChessLecture DVD series. The Game features 'attacking the opponent' with clear tips and principles. There is emphasis upon 'Attacking the Castled King' and the common tactics associated to it such as 'Target a weakness of a Pawn or a square' and the DVD is for all ranges of ability. The Greek Gift works sometimes and does not in other situatio[...]
OCL Spring Break MADNESS Posted on April 17,2014 By William in All Articles w/ Videos. We're excited to announce our spring break MADNESS special to celebrate, offering a 50% discount on ALL chess DVD orders over $150. You can mix and match ANY chess DVD from ANY producer or presenter - including videos by Igor Smirnov, ChessLecture, Roman's Lab, Foxy, Andrew Martin, GingerGM, and Danny Kopec. In honor of this great news we are also giving away a FREE copy of the premium Chess Lecture video "An Opening Repertoire for an Attacking P[...]
Insights into The French Defense - GM Jesse Kraai Posted on April 16,2014 By OnlineChessLessons.NET Contributor in Strategy & Game Review, Chess Openings, All Articles w/ Videos, General Chess Articles. The French has many secrets! Below you'll find a YouTube promotion of Insights into The French Defense - GM Jesse Kraai (ChessLecture). Jesse examines his own game in Kraai vs. Finegold - the Game features the French Defense McCutcheon Variation. He looks at how Black is okay even when it moves his King-side Rook early which even prevents Black from Castling. There is also a good spot of analysis on 5.exd5 exd5 6. Qf3 in the McCutcheon. Jesse rec[...]
Refuting the Greco Gambit by GM Mikhalevski Posted on April 14,2014 By OnlineChessLessons.NET Contributor in Strategy & Game Review, Chess Openings, All Articles w/ Videos. The Greco Gambit resembles a delayed King's Gambit in that white opens with 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. f4!? in an attempt to catch black off guard and take him out of normal preparation as this line is definitely not very popular or well-known. However, the Greco Gambit is extremely aggressive and leads by nature to very complicated positions early in the opening. While black can certainly navigate his way through the danger of this hyper-aggressive[...]
It was not hard to predict the readiness of the chess world to roll out the red carpet for the new rising star: the Ukrainian prodigy, Kateryna Lagno.
With her whirlwind progress through her childhood years, she convincingly made her first steps noticed when she claimed the WGM title at the age of only 12. Since 2008 she has been the Ukrainian team leader, helping her squad to gold in the Olympiad 2006, World Championship 2013 and European Championship 2013, making her not only one of the great contemporary talents but also an important pillar within her team.
Kateryna, you are a woman of many talents on and off the board and have played in many international tournaments around the world. The Grand Prix series is very unique, how important is it for you to participate in the series?
It is one of the strongest tournaments in the world and it is qualifies you to play in the Women’s World Championship match. Of course it is a very important cycle of tournaments and I am always happy to play. I qualified through my rating. It is a good opportunity to fight for the title. There is the other way to become the World Champion through the knockout system, however, I don’t do so well in this system, but I will try to do better for sure.
The prize fund for this Grand Prix cycle has increased from the last cycle. Do you think this is a positive development for women’s chess right around world and do you see prize funds for women’s chess grow as the years go by?
We really do see some progress. The Grand Prix series is a really big important step because some years ago there was only one strong event for women in Krasnoturinsk and now there are some really big improvements. I hope the prize fund will be bigger, greater and will grow and grow. Here you mostly fight for first place and for the money. If you know you will not be first or second, you can already think of the prizes.
In terms of development of chess in Ukraine. Ukraine is another nation that is as strong as Russia. Please tell us about the chess scene for women in Ukraine and are there any programs for girls to improve or enter chess?
Unfortunately not, but what I can say is we don’t have any rising stars and it’s a pity. Our team has been the same for about 10 years now. For the moment it works and we have won the World Team Championship and the European Team Championship. Let’s take Russia for example, where they can take first place without having the Kosintseva sisters in the team. Our situation isn’t good right now and we don’t have a chess school. With the brilliancy of GM Anna Ushenina, she did this by her own work and as far as I know, as she wasn’t really helped by her federation. To compare this with Russia, there is no comparison.
At the age of 12 you achieved something most female chess player’s dream of achieving and that is the WGM title. When you started playing, did you ever think you would achieve this and then to go on and achieve the GM title?
You know, I achieved this when I was 12 and as a 12 year old you really don’t think about this kind of stuff, you just play chess. Now looking through the years, it is something, but I don’t think it is really a big achievement to get the WGM. To achieve the GM title is something else. I got a GM norm in an open tournament and then I got my two other norms in women’s event’s. I wanted to achieve it the other way meaning against men only.
My next question is about FIDE elections. We know that Kirsan and Garry Kasparov are running to become President of FIDE this year. Have you seen anything in their programs that show the development of women’s chess and what they will do better to promote women’s chess?
I don’t really know a lot about this subject, but what I see is some developments for women’s chess and I don’t know who will win the election, but whoever wins I really hope they do not forget that women’s chess is really important. In terms of elections, I am staying away from this and I just hope that both candidates watch more of women’s chess. I would like to add that prize funds should be bigger during the World Championship, during the Women Grand Prix. I don’t say that it should be the same as men but it could be bigger and I would like it.
There is the one question that we have discussed briefly before and that is the zero tolerance rule. Could you share your thoughts on this topic and if there was to be a change to this rule, what would be the appropriate forfeit time?
I know that nobody likes it and I see no reason to have this. I think we should have at least 15 minutes as you are unsure what could happen. You could forget about the time, you could be stuck in getting to the venue; there could be many reasons why you cannot be there on time. It can be a really nervous situation before the game to be on time and to avoid all these problems you go the playing hall 20 minutes before the round and then you wait around. Fifteen minutes would be nice, but zero tolerance I do not like at all.
Then there is the discussion of do we extend the time for the media to be allowed to take photographs say 30 minutes from the starting time?
I don’t see much of a difference. We always have the same faces and we will not show you something else. During time trouble there are different emotions and this is interesting to see the difference between time pressure and at the start of the game. Of course it distracts them, the players, and when you are in time trouble and you see something, or even if someone is looking at you, it can be distracting, but I can understand that you can see some nerves and it can be great for the public and for the media. For the players though, it is the opposite.
You have a son Kateryna. Do you want him to play chess and become a chess professional?
I would like my son to play chess and know the rules but to become a professional chess player, no. It is really, really hard. If you just take a look at the World rating list. We have around 50 people with a rating of 2700 or more. Just to achieve this high rating I think you should work really hard and having such a rating doesn’t mean you will win a dream life. You should be really good, have talent, you need to work hard and after all you still need support from your Federation with trainers.
We know that the situation between Russia and Ukraine is not the best. There was a report on www.chess-news.ru about Lviv Regional Chess Federation not welcoming Karpov, Karjakin and Gallimova to play chess in Ukraine because of their support for Crimea to be part of Russia. Do you think these comments of the LRCF could hurt the image of chess a little because of these players’ political views?
Firstly, I wish not to speak about the political situation and I don’t think there is no connection with chess at all. I do not support the decision of this subject and I think they are not right.
What do you like to do in your spare time when you are not training and participating in chess events?
First of all I am a mother and most of my time is spent with my son. I don’t see him as much as I would like to and let’s take this trip to Khanty-Mansiysk for example: It is very hard to leave your baby for almost 1 month and I feel a little guilty. When I am back home I like to spend as much time as I can with him. Besides that, I like to read, to check some sport news, hot subjects and what’s going on around the world and to watch movies.
Music is something that everyone loves, so what is your favourite type of music you like to listen to?
It really depends on my mood. I have one hobby and that is I like to sing. My family might not be so objective of me; however, they think I can sing well.
When you have the chance to sing/do karaoke, what songs do you like to sing?
Well, I like to sing Lara Fabian and songs of Alla Pugacheva, who is a big star in Russia/Soviet Union, Edith Piaf, a French singer and other nice French songs. There is a variety of western singers I also like and Madonna is one of my favourite.
When you have had a good tournament, you have made some money, how do you like to reward yourself?
I love shopping, but I also like to buy some presents for my son, family or friends. Nothing really special but maybe I should go somewhere and take some holidays as I haven’t had a holiday for such a long time. When you have a child, your life changes and you don’t have enough time.
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us Kateryna and we wish you all the best for the remainder rounds of the tournament.
The event took place from 12th to 19th April, 2014 at the 5-star Dusit Thani Bangkok Hotel in Bangkok, the capital and the most populous city of Thailand. It was a 9-round Swiss tournament, more information here.
Chess By Shelby Lyman on April 19, 2014 - 12:01 AM
For children, chess is as easy as eating apple pie. Children love competitive games and sports.
The royal game seems to offer a special attraction in a world of ubiquitous game-playing.
Today’s popularity of scholastic programs is the legacy of popularization begun in 1972 when Bobby Fischer played Boris Spassky. Computer chess technology has also played a major role.
Before the match, few adults played – only 20 percent of those over 18 knew the rules of the game according to a ’72 Harris Poll. There was thus only a handful of prospective teachers and few guidelines for teaching it. The game existed on the margins of American society and a greater part of the world.
Today parents, schoolteachers and professional chess teachers bring the game to children at increasingly early ages in myriad settings.
New chess programs seem to spring up overnight.
Not surprisingly, there is a dissonance between the sense of empowerment children gain from chess and the test-oriented education and workforce of menial, repetitive, mindless and low-paying jobs which frequently await them when they graduate from school.
But scholastic programs continue to increase in number and size – usually in an after-school settings – while ironically formal schooling in music, art and even science and mathematics wither on the vine in many school districts.
Chess is fun to teach and learn with immediately gratifying results. And it’s inexpensive.
The dates of Shamkir Chess Tournament in the memory of Vugar Gashimov are set for April 20th-30th. Opening Ceremony and draw of lots will be held on the 19th April. The A tournament, sponsored by “Synergy Group”, one of the leading local investment companies, reportedly has a prize fund of €100,000.