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Dzagnidze's breakthrough
R8-25The high rate of decisive games (four, with only two draws) persisted in round 8, but the same applies to the frequency of time troubles and the inherent inaccuracies, mistakes and on board upside downs. The central result was Nana Dzagnidze's win with White against Harika Dronavalli, converting the Georgian into sole leader with a margin of a full point.
Antoaneta Stefanova obtained her first victory in the tournament against Natalija Pogonina, causing the Russian to drop on a shared 2nd-4th. Natalia Zhukova - Pia Cramling and Nino Batsiashvili - Valentina Gunina ended in wins for Black.
The short draw in the Chinese derby Zhao Xue - Ju Wenjun allowed both players catching up with Natalija Pogonina. The other draw of the day was Humpy Koneru - Sarasadat Khademalsharieh.

SNo.   Name Rtg Res.   Name Rtg SNo.
12 IM Batsiashvili Nino 2485 0 - 1 GM Gunina Valentina 2496 10
11 GM Koneru Humpy 2583 ½ - ½ IM Khademalsharieh Sarasadat 2403 9
1 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2509 1 - 0 WGM Pogonina Natalija 2454 8
2 GM Zhao Xue 2506 ½ - ½ GM Ju Wenjun 2558 7
3 GM Zhukova Natalia 2484 0 - 1 GM Cramling Pia 2521 6
4 GM Dzagnidze Nana 2529 1 - 0 GM Harika Dronavalli 2511 5

Nothing worth having comes easy

Rank SNo.   Name Rtg FED 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Pts
1 4 GM Dzagnidze Nana 2529 GEO * ½     ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1   1
2 2 GM Zhao Xue 2506 CHN ½ *   ½     0 1 1 ½ 1 1
  8 WGM Pogonina Natalija 2454 RUS     * ½ ½ ½ 1 1   0 1 1
4 7 GM Ju Wenjun 2558 CHN   ½ ½ * ½ ½ 1     1 1 ½
5 9 IM Khademalsharieh Sarasadat 2403 IRI ½   ½ ½ * 1 ½ ½     ½ 1 5
6 10 GM Gunina Valentina 2496 RUS 0   ½ ½ 0 *   ½ 0   1 1
7 11 GM Koneru Humpy 2583 IND ½ 1 0 0 ½   * ½ ½   ½  
8 5 GM Harika Dronavalli 2511 IND 0 0 0   ½ ½ ½ * ½ 1     3
9 3 GM Zhukova Natalia 2484 UKR 0 0       1 ½ ½ * ½ 0 ½ 3
10 1 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2509 BUL 0 ½ 1 0       0 ½ * ½ ½ 3
11 6 GM Cramling Pia 2521 SWE   0 0 0 ½ 0 ½   1 ½ *  
12 12 IM Batsiashvili Nino 2485 GEO 0 0 0 ½ 0 0     ½ ½   *

Nana Dzagnidze - Harika Dronavalli 1-0


In the clash against the tournament leader, the Indian player chose unflinchingly, an ambitous opening with Black, her favourite King's Indian. Nana reacted with the solid fianchetto system, which tends yielding White a small but lasting advantage if Black fails to find counterplay. In a somewhat cramped position, this was precisely what Harika strove for with her logical, but apparently premature, ...h5-h4. White's better development became telling after she opened the center with:

Dzagnidze - Harika

20. e5, ensuring her a large advantage. Nana played very confidently the final phase of the game, and her win converts her in sole leader, one point ahead of Natalija Pogonina, Zhao Xue and Ju Wenjun.

Two Whites and two wins in a row: 1st place & 1 point ahead

Antoaneta Stefanova - Natalija Pogonina 1-0

White adopted an English/Reti setup against Black's Slav structure and took over the initiative with subtle regrouping (Rc2, Qa1, truly in the style of Richard Reti). However, in the first time trouble, the Bulgarian lost almost all her advantage... When the second time scramble arrived, she was on top again, but Black kept on fighting and even had a chance to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

A difficult day for Natalija, who lost with Black against Antoaneta, thus dropping on a shared 2nd-4th place.

And yet, she could have still saved half a point right before the end:

57... Nd3 was played, which didn't help Natalija much as it brought White's king closer to the military operations. Soon 61. Ng7 came, followed by 62. Nxe6 and the black king was nothing but a distant witness, unable to intervene. 
Had Natalija continued with: 57... Kb6, perhaps the result would have been different, as after 58. Ng7 Black has 58... Nc6 59. Kf4 Kc5 60. Nxe6+ Kd5 - just in time!

Antoaneta obtained her first win in the tournament in the perfect number of moves: 64.

Both players were disappointed during the press conference: the Bulgarian for hunting chimeras before the first control and the Russian for putting too feeble resistance in the crucial moments.

Natalia Zhukova - Pia Cramling 0-1

In many ways, this game was similar to Stefanova-Pogonina: the English opening with an advantage for White and two mutual time troubles.  But after a series of mistakes on both sides Caissa finally smiled to the player with Black (Pia), who, the same as Antoaneta, obtained her first victory, thus escaping the last place on the scoreboard.

All the bad luck came to an end - the first point for Pia

Zhao Xue - Ju Wenjun 1/2-1/2

Much of what I wrote about the yesterday's game Dzagnidze-Batsiashvili applies to the Chinese derby Zhao Xue-Ju Wenjun. The game followed the same opening line as in the earlier Gunina-Cramling.

In the early middlegame, Ju Wenjun proved her excellent preparation with:


14...Qb3!, an improvement over a previous own game. Zhao Xue spent nearly one hour on her next few moves but found nothing better than forcing a draw by repetition after 18 moves.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush - draw by repetition

Humpy Koneru - Sarasadat Khademalsharieh 1/2-1/2

After an excellent evolution so far, Sara balanced a bit over the precipice in the game with Black against Humpy Koneru. In a Ragozin system, the Indian had prepared an opening surprise.


On the 'dangerous' 13th move Sara played the natural but slightly passive:


13...Nd7 instead of the advisable 13...Rd8 followed by ...Nc6 as recommended by Evgenij Miroshnichenko and agreed by Humpy Koneru. The Indian gained an advantage and later won a pawn, but this costed her too much time.

It gets better and better: 5th place, 5/8, 2612 performance and a +22 rating gain for Sara

Sara defended very stubbornly, helped also by her opponent's time trouble and managed to save half a point and to remain undefeated.

Nino Batsiashvili - Valentina Gunina 0-1


Playing with White against Valentina, Nino was obviously surprised by the speed of her opponent's play in a Reti/Slav setup. The Russian later confessed that she was actually improvising, but had decided to be practical by playing quickly, thus avoiding the danger of time trouble. White's:

15.a4 was less inspired, prematurely opening the b-file and forcing White to stay with the king in the center.

 Nino could have offered more resistence further on with:


24.Ba3 instead of 24.Qe5 (which lost by force, due to the strong 24... Qf7). But the way Valentina built up her attack and crowned it tactically with moves such as:


28...Nf4 is admirable.
29. exf4 e3 30. fxe3 Qxf4 31. Bxf3 Rxe3+ 32. Kd1 Rxf3 and soon 0-1.

"Rest is sweet to those who labor", thus the free day scheduled tomorrow is very much appreciated and should be the best medicine of all! After the programmed excursion, the fight will be renewed with, hopefully, fresh forces for the last 100 meter turn - the final three rounds.

The public is ready...

... the tea as well...

And so will be your Press Officer - maybe tomorrow a Blitz or two?!

By the Press Officer Alina l'Ami

Round 8 photo gallery

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