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Good view from atop
5Played on the Valentine's Day, the fourth round was fortunate for Valentina Gunina who recovered from her shaky start with a victory over the experienced Pia Cramling. Natalia Pogonina defeated Nino Batsiashvili with the black pieces, maintaining her lead in the tournament. She is trailed by half a point by Nana Dzagnidze who won, also with Black, against Antoaneta Stefanova.

Playing with White, Zhao Xue profited from Natalia Zhukova's time trouble to turn an inferior position into a win. Sara Khademalsharieh - Ju Wenjun and Humpy Koneru - Harika Dronavalli were the only draws of the day, which ended with the same high percentage of decisive games as the first round.
Round 4 results:

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

The leader at work

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

Valentina Gunina - Pia Cramling 1-0

Valentina's Valentine: #chess :)

Black played a Semi-Tarasch variation used as a special weapon by Keres at the Zurich Candidates 1953, which was abandoned for a long time but became popular lately. The dilemma Valentina had to solve was to accept or not the pawn offer on d5....

After some though, she decided not to and played:
8. Bg5, which allowed Black further on to obtain a comfortable version of the isolani. Pia's troubles started after the over-ambitious (or impatient):

21...d4, leaving White with comfortable play on light squares after 22.e4! The d4-pawn was soon lost and the ending was joyless for Black. Pia's stubborn defence prolonged the game until move 89 but could not prevent the loss.

Pia may not be in her best spirits but her fighting attitude is a model to follow

Sarasadat Khademalsharieh - Ju Wenjun 1/2-1/2

2  3
How to celebrate Valentine's Day? With chess, love, fun and more chess!

The game ended in a correct draw as a result of both players' excellent opening preparation in a Bogo-Indian. Sara can be proud of her 50% score in such a high level turnament. Besides the moral support of her family and local fans, she is helped by the GM and commentator Evgeny Miroshnischenko and, from afar, by her permanent trainer, the Dutch GM Robin van Kampen.


Sara had good chances in the previous rounds for an even a better score and the question remains whether she could have played for more today, in the final position. A draw was agreed by three-fold repetition (Kg1/Qc1+/Kh2/Qc7+...) but White could have chosen instead:
32. g3, avoiding the peace offer and hitting on the rather weak e4-pawn. If this would have brought more, we will never know...

2.5/4 for Ju Wenjun so far

Nino Batsiashvili - Natalija Pogonina 0-1

The previous round defeat in a sharp position didn't discourage the Georgian player continuing in the same uncompromising style against the tournament leader. She adopted an ambitious plan based on massive space gaining even though this implied spoiling her structure and giving up the right to castle. 

Inspiring and creative play by Nino


12. g4! was played by Nino, with full spead ahead! I don't know about you but I like both, the quiet approach (or the more technical one), which slowly but surely suffocates your opponent, and also the more aggressive (or dynamic mode), which sets the board on fire. In the game we saw the second strategy, which unfortunately for Nino, backfired...


This was a critical moment in the game, where the Georgian player went for the less accurate:
18. Ne5, which allowed Natalija to immediately seize the initiative after:
18... Qh4 19. gxf5 Bxe5 20. dxe5 Qh3+ 21. Ke2 Bxf5
During the press conference, Nino mentioned a beautiful alternative: 18. Re1 and if 18... Bxf4 19. gxf5 Qf6 20. Re5! Pity she didn't have more time to evaluate these lines, as we would have witnessed maybe an even more tough battle.

Another point for Natalija!

Eventually, White's risky strategy proved a bit too much and by the time Nino blundered mate in one, her king was already hopelessly exposed to the attack of Black's major pieces. By renewing her winning string Natalija Pogonina maintains the lead in the tournament.

Antoaneta Stefanova - Nana Dzagnidze 0-1

In a symmetrical English, the players left the known paths as early as move 9. Suggestively, Nana answered Antoaneta's 25 minutes thought on:


10.c5 after 35 minutes! The final conclusion of this critical moment are far from clear but during the press conference the Bulgarian was unhappy with her:


21.Bxb3, allowing a temporary piece sacrifice leading to a rook ending with an extra pawn for Black.
21... Nxb3 22. Rc2 Nxc5! 23. bxc5 Rxc5 24. Bg5 Re8 
As mentioned by the players, better was 21. Bg5 Bxc3 22. Bxe7+ Ke7 23. Rxc3 Rxd5 24. bxa5.

Nana Dzagnidze played the technical phase very accurately and her win keeps her at only half a point away from the ledaer.

Zhao Xue - Natalia Zhukova 1-0


In the game between Zhao Xue and Natalia Zhukova, White met the Slav with a rare setup. Black reacted with the ambitious and strong:

6...Ne4, which had the only drawback of consuming too much time: 23 minutes. Natalia slowly built up a strategic domination, but by the moment she opened the centre in a justified attempt to capitalize her advantage, she was in time trouble already. 

23... c5! the right moment to strike and blow up the center.

It is the Chinese player's merit of finding concrete defences which are hard to meet with little time left on the clock, causing Natalia to lose thread and hand in the point to her opponent.

You can give it a shot and find the final trick played by the Chinese GM:


37. Rxe4! fxe4 38. Qxe4+ Kh8 39. Qe6 and 1-0 is inevitable.

Humpy Koneru - Harika Dronavalli 1/2-1/2

Followed from far away with great interest by the Indian fans (and the local ones alike), Humpy - Harika was a very hard fought game. Harika keeps astonishing us with her permanent striving for the initiative even when she has the black pieces. In a Saemisch King's Indian she sacrificed a pawn with:


10...b5, following a game by Ding Liren. Humpy deviated with 11.cxb5 causing her opponent to fall into deep thinking, searching for the optimal way of proving her compensation based on the weakness of the d5-pawn. During the conference, both players considered they played a correct game, making the draw a logical result.

Make your hobby a profession and you will never have to work again...

Even though the players maintain their high fighting spirit, there were signs of tiredness in the fourth round. For instance, three of the games were practically decided by the time toruble. To put it poetically, "The ladies may be the best/But they certainly need a rest!" Which makes the day off scheduled tomorrow most welcome.

Rest is part of the program: off day tomorrow

By the Press Officer Alina l'Ami

Round 4 photo gallery


Pairings & Results


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