Elina Danielian became the sole leader after beating Batkhuyag Munguntuul in a complicated and exciting struggle. Martha Fierro won today against Nana Dzagnidze. All former World Champions, participating in the tournament, met today on the board: Maia Chiburdanidze and Zhu Chen scored their first victories in the games against Xu Yuhua and Antoaneta Stefanova accordingly. Two other games Sebag-Mkrtchian and Cramling-Koneru were drawn today but after the nerve-wracking struggle.
Antoaneta Stefanova – Zhu Chen 0:1
Antoaneta Stefanova tried to deviate from the theoretical lines by playing b4 on the 3rd move. Bulgarian could not finish the development and ended up in the lost position after the nice tactical blow Nd3 (diagram).
Antoaneta Stefanova:It was an opening-disaster today. Sometimes when you try to play originally you can lose. It was just disappointing to get such kind of position from the opening playing with White. Of course 3.b4 is not losing but I continued playing badly after that. I think I made a mistake by playing 19.Nba3, probably I had to play Nd2, still I`d be slightly worse.
Zhu Chen:When I saw 3.b4 I was really surprised. Now I`m training with Morozevich, he is quite original player, so sometimes we are just watching such type of moves. And we are happy to see so creative move. But then I was just trying to attack b4 pawn. I think the position became difficult for White and Antoaneta was defending more or less good. I also believe 19.Na3 was a mistake but I don’t know if 19.Nd2 helps because I still can continue Na4, cb, Na3 and Qd4 with a better position.
Maia Chiburdanidze - Xu Yuhua 1:0
In Ragozin variation Maia Chiburdanidze tried a novelty on 11th move in her game against Xu Yuhua.
MaiaChiburdanidze:I didn`t expect Ragozin variation today and I chose quite sharp and dangerous continuation. After she played 18…Ne4 (diagram), I forgot that after the following variation 19.Ne4 Re4 20. Rh6 Rh6 21.Qh6, she has 21…Rh4 and I lose a piece after 22…Rh1 23.Bf1 and Bd3. That’s why I had to play 19.Rc1 and my opponent got an important time to coordinate her pieces. Then she refused to make a draw in one moment by playing back 31…Kf8. I didn’t know how to improve the position at that moment. Afterwards she gave me some chances and under the time pressure it was not easy for her to defend the position.
Marie Sebag – Lilit Mkrtchian 1/2 : 1/2 The French Defence was played in the game Sebag - Mkrtchian. In the opening White opened position by playing c4 and managed to get some space advantage. Later on French player made an interesting exchange sacrifice and got a very strong attack.
Lilit Mkrtchian: It was a really difficult game. In the middle game Marie sacrificed an exchange, a very interesting idea (diagram). In one moment she should have played 34. Re3 instead of 34.Rf3 because I hold the position with 34…Rc5. When Marie changed the Queens I thought my troubles were over but I underestimated the problems that appeared after. So I had to hold the position again. I must also say that Marie was playing very active. She could take my rook on h8 but she never did this!
Marie Sebag: I think I didn`t have to change the Queens: it was better to play Qb6 and keep the pressure.
Batkhuyag Munguntuul - Elina Danielian 0:1
The French Defence was also chosen in the game Munguntuul – Danielian.In a sharp position White missed a chance to win the game by playing 21…Bc4 but after that Black defended well and converted to the winning position. (diagram)
Elina Danielian: My opponent chose very sharp variation and I didn’t expect it. I know her like an attacking player but I agreed to play on her field. So the game was quite interesting, there were a lot of calculations. After White took on d5, I spent all my time thinking because there were three possibilities for Black: Nd5, Ng6 and Ne4. I don’t know why but I didn’t like Nd5 because she could make a sacrifice and keep the Queen on h6 and Knight on g5 and it didn’t attract me too much. I saw this variation which follows 21…Bc4 but I thought I didn’t have any problem and stopped calculating because I was tired already. She chose 21.Rd7 and I think it was a mistake.
Martha Fierro – Nana Dzagnidze 1:0 By playing English opening, White gained a little advantage and transferred it into the better endgame. Nana Dzagnidze:I can say only one comment about the game – it was just not my day and that’s it.
Martha Fierro: We have played two times before: I had a good position in the first game but it was a draw in the end and she completely overplayed me in the second game. Nana is in a good shape right now – she performed very well in Gibraltar and she is one of the favourites in this tournament. During the preparation I checked some lines she used to play before, but of course I was not prepared to what happened in the game: that’s why I spent one hour for 10 moves in the opening. But still I remembered some plans and I think in a critical position I understood how to put the pieces. Anyway it was comfortable position for White, so I could move around and I had no problems. Black could not connect the rooks because of Knight on d8, that’s why it was clear that after f3 (diagram) the endgame is good for me: my pawn structure is better and b5 pawn gives me advantage on the queen’s side.
Pia Cramling - Humpy Koneru 1/2 : 1/2 Pia also decided to avoid theoretical lines today. Black equalized the position and got a comfortable play but didn’t succeed to win.
Pia Cramling:In the middle game I thought it was more pleasant for me but then I played wrong and it became unclear, later on the situation changed again. I got a very weak King side and I think she could have played better (diagram). I had to find the only moves to keep the game going. But in one moment Humpy preferred to enter the endgame. And it`s known that such rook endgames are always draw…