Natalija Pogonina - Sarasadat Khademalsharieh 1/2-1/2Interviews before the game are no distractions for Sara
Playing with Black against the tournament leader, the local player Sara, tried to surprise her opponent in the opening but Natalija reacted as many GMs would do: she moved the theoretical discussion on less hardpacked grounds, by choosing a more calm pawn structure (c3-d4-e3).No advantage for White today
Natalija's opponent responded accurately, proving her excellent preparation even in such an off-beat variation and soon took over some slight initiative, resulting in a temporary pawn gain. After mass simplification, the position became almost perfectly symmetrical and the players agreed to a draw. Both ladies can be content with this result, Sara for maintaining her honourable 50% and Natalija for sturdily keeping the lead.Nana Dzagnidze - Zhao Xue 1/2-1/2
Black tried surprising her opponent with the less topical 5...b5
system in the 4...Ba6
fianchetto Queen's Indian. Nana confessed she kind of expected that and have prepared a bit against it, but she couldn't remember the best lines during the game. She soon landed in an inferior position and tacitly offered a draw by repetition. Xue declined, sacrificed the a7-pawn and started a dangerous kingside initiative with the spectacular:25...g5!
To your press officer, this move deserves an exclamation mark also because of what the GMs said during the press conference: "it is the most logical move, even more 'natural' than 25...g6"
, which would actually be for many players, the 1st move to consider.
Things started looking critical for White but Nana found the incredible resource:28.Bxg4!!
leading to a draw by perpetual!?!28... Nxg4
(Black has to go with the wave) 29. Nd7+!
(only move!) 29... Kg8 h3
Here Xue played the good looking (objectively speaking, this could have proved fatal) 30...Qa3
but the genius computers have seen a 'forced' way for 0.00:
30... Nxf2 31. Nf6+ Kf8 32. Kxf2 Rxe2+ 33. Kf3 d4 34. Kg4 (very 'natural' moves indeed...) - this is to show that sometimes, using the engines when following the games is not really helpful to fully grasp the chess essence.31. Qb8+
followed 31... Kg7
and now White could have gone: 32. Qf4! (where Black is losing the knight; tough to calculate such lines when the chess tree has so many branches, while the clock is ticking too)32. Rc5 Rxe2 33. Qf8+ Kg6 34. Qg8+ Kh6 35. Qf8+
and perpetual.This was surely a game any chess lover should analyse or at least click on!
Natalia Zhukova - Nino Batsiashvili 1/2-1/2
The European Champion vs the Vice-Champion
In a rare line of the Queen's Gambit, the game opposing the European women champion and the vice-champion became a fight between White's knights and Black's bishops' pair. Black's decision to allow this course of events with:
9...Re8 by inviting 10. Bxa6 came after 25 minutes of thought. White might have had an advantage, had she not hurried to breakthrough the center with e3-e4, opening the diagonals for the bishops. The last phase of the game though, was played very accurately by the players (a special highlight on 17.Nd7!) and a draw was agreed in a rook ending.
Harika Dronavalli - Antoaneta Stefanova 1-0
Effective psychological weapon used by Harika today
The only decisive game had a rather unusual start. At this level it is not customary that a player with Black thinks for 10 minutes over the first move, but Harika's 1.e4 must have come as a big surprise for Antoaneta. But Black's real drama started after the less inspired: 4...c5
5. dxc5 dxc5 6. Qxd8+ Kxd8 7. e5, leading to a very unpleasant endgame which Antoaneta could not save.
Ju Wenjun - Valentina Gunina 1/2-1/2
The players have met quite a lot over the board, most of the time with decisive results, but today's game ended peacefully. In a 4.Qc2 Slav, White obtained a pleasant edge with the bishops' pair and space advantage, but gradually Wenjun lost her grip on the position and Black equalized and even obtained some initiative.
Sometimes moving away from the board helps the players see things clearer.
Valentina could have posed some problems with:
35...Rb4 and the f2 pawn is endangered after Rb1+ and Qxf2; 36. Rxb6 is not working due to 36...Qb1+!
Instead, Valentina played the natural 35...Rxa4 which led to an endgame with just enough compensation for the missing pawn, eventually resulting in a draw.
Pia Cramling - Humpy Koneru 1/2-1/2
This game was a long and far from one-sided affair. White met Black's Stonewall Dutch with a Reti approach based on d2-d3 and e2-e4, shaking the pawn wall and yielding her an edge. Humpy mentioned 18.Nh4 as an improvement over Pia's 18.b4, after which the position turned around, making White suffer with her stranded knight on b7 later on in the endgame.
Dream big, work hard, stay focused
Both players agreed that Black should have won somehow, without indicating a clear way, but in the end Pia reached a draw in a new attempt to relaunch her unfavorable start of the tournament.
A new and more pleasant tournament from now on for Pia
While the battlefield is busy, so is the world backstage:
Press conferences in the native language or...
... in English with yours truly and...
... commentary by GM Evgenij Miroshnichenko
Comes first, leaves last: the tournament organizer - Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh, making sure that...
... the players have all the comfort and support they need.
The sixth round scheduled tomorrow will mark crossing the middle of the event. Little by litle we approach the moment of even more decisive fights...
By the Press Officer Alina l'Ami