The first round of the Women`s Grand Prix tournament got under way on the 22nd of February. FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov made a symbolic move in the game between top seeds Humpy Koneru and Nana Dzagnidze. The opening round passed in a tense struggle on all the boards. The victories of Black outnumbered White’s success with 4 to 1.The only draw was registered today in the game Pia Cramling - Lilit Mkrtchian. The players expressed their views about the games and shared first impressions about the tournament and visit to Qatar.
Humpy Koneru – Nana Dzagnidze 0-1
Humpy Koneru received an advantage in the middle game but lost the point because of inaccurate play under the time pressure. Humpy Koneru: During the time trouble I`ve played 32.hg but it was the wrong move, probably I should have played 32. e5. At least I could have put much more pressure on my opponent.Nana Dzagnidze admitted that she had worse position after the opening. Q: Both of you are the top challengers in the Grand Prix. What did you feel when you got to know the pairings yesterday?Nana Dzagnidze: It`s not easy to play against each other in the first round but there was no choice, we are professionals, so we just had to play. In such situations it’s better not think about it but just play.Humpy Koneru: It’s not possible to control such sort of things, so we had to play.
Q: What are your impressions about the organization of the tournament? Have you been to Qatar before?Humpy Koneru: It`s not my first visit to Qatar. I`ve played here in Asian games in 2006. It’s very nice and beautiful city and the organisation is always good here.
Nana Dzagnidze: It`s my first time in Qatar and I like very much the conditions and the hotel. Everything is made for the chess players and the only thing we have to do is just to play. Yesterday I went shopping and I liked it. I`m also planning to visit spa here.
Antoaneta Stefanova – Xu Yuhua 0-1
Antoaneta Stefanova: I was expecting Catalan today but maybe not exactly this variation. And then I wasted a lot of time trying to remember what is a theory which I didn`t remember eventually. Anyway, I think I`ve got a good position but I had no time. In time trouble I made some very bad moves, so it was logical to lose. Xu Yuhua: I think in the middle game the position was unclear. Black took a pawn but White had a pair of bishops and compensation. But after White made some mistakes, the position became better for me.
Q: What are your impressions of Qatar?
Xu Yuhua: Before my visit to this country I thought I would feel out of place but after I arrived here my feelings and impressions changed. I think traditional and modern times can blend together very well here. I think it’s a very beautiful country.
Antoaneta Stefanova: So far everything is fine: the hotel is really nice, it’s a beautiful place. But of course it’s difficult to speak about my impressions after losing a game. Maybe you can ask me about it in better moment and I hope I`ll have better moments here.
Pia Cramling – Lilit Mkrtchian 1/2 – 1/2
Lilit Mkrtchian: I`m very glad about the result because I didn`t like my position at all! I`ll analyze the game because it was an interesting one. Pia played it very well and she was showing me move by move (which were improving her position) that my situation is getting worse and worse. But in one moment I understood that I must only keep the position and not allow White to play g5, which is the only way to struggle for the win. There was a moment when I`ve got the feeling I could lose the game because Pia usually plays such type of the positions very well.Pia Cramling: In one moment I was not pleased with my position but afterwards I liked it. I felt I`ve got the position I can not lose. I felt I was the one who was pressing because I had more space for pieces but in one moment I`ve decided I would not try to push this position.
Q:What is your first impression about the tournament?
Pia Cramling: I think the tournament is very nice. It`s a first time I`m coming here, it`s a new country for me and I’m very pleased with everything. The hotel and the food are excellent here. I’m also very glad that we are playing and living in the same venue. I hope the organisers will be encouraged to do more tournaments for ladies because we really need to have them.
Lilit Mkrtchian: I fully agree with Pia - everything is excellent here. I’m also very glad to take part in this tournament because it is very strong and interesting.
Martha Fierro – Zhu Chen 1-0
Zhu Chen: I think before the first time control I’ve got a clear advantage but I played 38…Bb6 and it seems to be a mistake. I missed that she can bring the king and win the pawn. Instead I could have played 38…Bd8 and I just keep the passed pawn and the bishop. But it`s very difficult to go back. Maybe f5 was another mistake, maybe I should have played the position with pawn dawn and try to make a draw…Martha Fierro: Well, in the opening I was ok but in some moment I let my opponent to play 31…b5, the move she wanted to make during the game. After that the endgame was a little bit strange with the bishop and the pass pawn. I don’t know what’s really happening in this position. I was in a time trouble when my opponent played 38…Bb6, so I could not calculate all variations. Although I decided to take the bishop otherwise I knew I would be suffering till the end of the game. After that actually the endgame was ok for me.
Q: Do you feel more pressure playing in the same country where you live now?
Zhu Chen: More or less, it`s not so big difference where to play, it depends on how I play.
Q: What do you think about the organisation of the tournament? Did you like the opening ceremony?
Martha Fierra: I think it`s fantastic actually. It`s very beautiful city, I`ve got a good impression of Doha. And I have to congratulate the organizers with successful organisation. They are giving us excellent conditions here and everybody is feeling good here (I`ve already talked to many players). The opening ceremony was interesting – the organisers put some kind of firework…The weather was a little bit cold but the ceremony was nice.
Marie Sebag – Elina Danielian 0-1
Elina Danielian: I won the first game in the first round, so now of course I have only positive emotions. But my game was quite complicated. We played Karo-Kan, Panov line. In one moment I played 16.e5, an interesting move, and afterwards there were some complications. I’ve decided to sacrifice a pawn on h7 and I thought I had a very good initiative in that position. At some point we could repeat the moves but I preferred to continue playing. In that position White had one extra pawn but her black squares are weak and I think it was a good compensation. I think in the second time trouble it was difficult to play this position with White, of course it is possible to keep this position but Marie played some very bad moves because of the time pressure and the position became winning for me.Q: Is it your first visit to Qatar?Elina Danielian: Yes, I`m the first time here. My first impression is just wonderful: hotel, organization, hospitality are very nice. I hope the organizers will be able to arrange more tournaments in Qatar and we would like to play because it`s a pleasure to be here. Q: Have you already visited spa here?
Elina Danielian: No, I haven’t. It’s a little bit difficult for me to go to spa during the tournaments. I can’t relax. I used to participate in really tough tournaments, so it’s normal for me to be in such fighting spirit during the events.
Maia Chiburdanidze -Batkhuyag Munguntuul 0-1
Maia ChiburdanidzeI had a better position till the end of the game and I was playing for win but I think I made the position more complicated by giving my opponent the opportunity to put the pawn on c2. I think I could have played better in one moment. The only thing I was always under the time pressure during the game and I think it was the reason why I could not find the best moves. And as a result I lost the game because I did have enough time to calculate all variations. Batkhuyag Munguntuul: I think it was a fight. I missed the plan Nh2-ge-e5 and lost a pawn during the game. But after I put the pawn on c3, the position should not be worse for me any more.
What can you say about the organization of the tournament?
Maia Chiburdanidze:It`s my first time here and I like everything. The organizers provided comfortable conditions for playing and resting. It seems I’m more resting here than playing. And to have a good rest here is even more important for me.Batkhuyag Munguntuul: It’s my second visit to Qatar – I`ve played in Asian Games before. I like Qatar and I must say that the organization is on the high level here. I didn’t have time to visit city centre but I hope to use the opportunity during the free day.