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Games Commentary

Round 9 report
Friday, 04 March 2011

The temperature in the tournament hall is getting hot. With two rounds to go Elina Danielian remains in the lead with 7.5 points after her today’s win against Martha Fierro. Humpy Koneru didn’t succeed to win a position with a big advantage while Marie Sebag defeated Nana Dzagnidze and remains on the second place on her own. Lilit Mkrtchian and Munguntuul Batkhuyag returned after losses winning their games against Zhu Chen and Pia Cramling accordingly. The battle between two former world champions Antoaneta Stefanova and Maia Chiburdanidze finished peacefully.    

Photos of the 9th round are in the gallery. 

01.jpgLilit Mkrtchian – Zhu Chen 1:0   King's Indian was played in the game Mkrtchian-Zhu Chen. After the opening Black got a comfortable position but didn’t find a best way to continue the attack. Later onuntitled-1.jpg White got a contra play and transferred it into a crucial attack.

Zhu Chen:  It was almost the first time when I played King's Indian and I think I got a better position but I was not ready to play it. I didn’t find a direct plan to develop my attack. I should put h5 and Bh6 but I didn’t want to do it from the beginning. I should have done some easy moves but I played too passive.

Lilit Mkrtchian: I expected h5 during the game but not at the moment she played it because her king was very weak (diagram). We had such a position when you think that Black stays very good and can attack. After you start calculate it’s not easy to find how Black can improve her attack. Maybe she just had to wait and give me a chance to play because I also didn't have a move: I can not play b4 because she’ll get a play. Black also has a bad bishop on g7 and my coach was always telling me: in such positions you play with a piece up. So maybe she should have played h5 and put her bishop on h6. The game showed that this bishop didn’t find a good location till the end.  

02.jpgXu Yuhua – Humpy Koneru 1/2 : 1/2  
Black chose Paulsen variation in Sicilian Defence. The position after the openinguntitled-2.jpg became complicated: White gave up two pawns without compensation though managed to survive in the worse endgame by giving perpetual. 

Humpy Koneru:  I had a good position from the opening. I missed the winning chances. I think 39…a3 was a mistake (diagram). I should have played immediately 39…Rh8 and make tension on the King`s side. After that maybe there were some chances but my opponent defended very well.

Xu Yuhua:  I was very lucky today: I lost two pawns in the beginning but later on my defence was good and I held the position finding the only moves at times.  

03.jpgMunguntuul Batkhuyag – Pia Cramling 1:0  
Sheveningen Variation in Sicilian Defence was handled in the game Munguntuul-Cramling. White started an attack on King`s side and mauntitled-3.jpgnaged to win the game using opponent’s mistakes.

Pia Cramling: she got a very nice position and then it was just difficult for me. She always had this sacrifice on h5. In the end I wanted to play 30…Qd6 with the idea of taking 31…Be4 and then to trade queens on d1. She can still play 31.Rg4  but maybe it was a little tricky to play 30…Qd6. I wanted to play the endgame of course.

Munguntuul Batkhuyag:
I got a good position in the opening. In one moment after we already had f6 and h5 on the board, she could put her knight on d7, king on h7 and play Rh8 defending h5 pawn. Rook is not good on h8 but it holds the position. Also instead of 24…Nh7 she could play 24… e5 (diagram) 25.Bg1 Nf6!? and 26 Bh3. She gives two pieces for one rook but can attack f6 pawn in the future by playing Re6, Nh7, Qd8.  Maybe she could also play 31…Qb7 instead of 31…Qc6 defending her pawn on f7 but I still had a pawn up there.

04.jpgMarie Sebag – Nana Dzagnidze 1:0
In Spanish opening white sacrificed a piece on move 15  and got an attack on Buntitled-4.jpglack`s king.. It was possible to hold the position but Nana Dzagnidze didn’t react in the best way and lost the game.

Marie Sebag: I didn't expect 1… e5 today because my opponent usually plays 1…c5. I remembered a little bit how to continue playing after 3…g6. I think 13…Bg4 was a good move and now I had to play 14.h5. Instead I played 14.Ng5 I thought I could play 15.f3 after her answer 14…Kg8. But she has 15…Nd4 and it`s not so clear. So I had to play 15.Nf7 (diagram) with the idea  to continue my attack but it was not good for me. I think 19…Kf7 was better for her and also 24…Kf5 instead of 24…Ke5. 

05.jpgElina Danielian – Martha Fierro 1:0
In King's Indian, Fianchetto Variation, White got an advantage after the ountitled-5.jpgpening and transferred it into a better endgame.

Elina Danielian: It was King's Indian, the variation with g3, we had a normal position after the opening, close to equal. Then Martha played 18…Qb4 (diagram) and I believe it was a mistake. Maybe she missed some tricky moves. I think it was  the main blunder and afterwards she got a very difficult game. It was an easy position for me to play but it’s hard to defend such a position with Black.

Martha Fierro:  
This time I didn’t mix up anything in the opening as I did in the previous games (smiles). During the game White was always a little bit better. I thought it was a good idea to play 18…Qb4 but after all Elina`s moves I realized that I was wrong. Maybe I played 27…e5 too fast because I was desperate. Of course I didn’t see the simple move Rd2 attacking my d6 pawn.

06.jpgMaia Chiburdanidze – Antoaneta Stefanova 1/2 :1/2
Slav Defence was handled in the game Chiburdanidze-Stefanova. White got some edge after the opening but didn`t manage to implement it into moreuntitled-6.jpg.  

Antoaneta Stefanova: Complicated game… I thought I had  a good position in the beginning but maybe it was not anything special, but I don’t think I was worse. Under the time pressure I made some bad moves, it was looking as I was in trouble but I don’t know if Maia could win at some point, I didn’t see. I thought if both would play normal it should be about equal.

Maia Chiburdanidze: The position after b4 and Nb6 was quite interesting. I  think it was the only idea for Black to play 17...Nb6 and 18…cd. Maybe Black should not play e5 but castle and then e5. But probable Antoaneta wanted to make the position more complicated and pull my leg (smiles). Later on I got a better position but I missed my advantage afterwards. Maybe I should have played 40.f8Q (diagram) and after 40…Kf8 41. Nh2 Rh2 42.Kg1 winning a pawn on b5. But in general I was trying to transfer the game into an ending where I would have two bishops.


Adrian Mikhalchishin (second of Nana Dzagnidze) expressed his feelings about the current situation in the tournament before the last two games:
”I feel a bundle of energy. When I came to the playing hall today I felt a big tension which you could smell in the air. The situation is unclear and everybody is under pressure because of that.  Koneru's hearten up and understood she’s got a chance but anything depends on Danielian right now - if she keeps winning or not. But I can say that Koneru has problems - in decisive moments, she can collapse. She had some chances to play the match for the world title but didn’t use them.  If Nana managed to win today she would fight for the second place herself. The last two games will be the most nervous“.

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