WWch Rd4 G1: Testing the mettle

The fourth round of the Women’s World Championship bespoke the tension and quality of the eight players left in the competition. While they say some luck is needed to win a tournament, this final group also represents those who have played the best. The competition is now at its tensest and today it was Mariya Muzychuk who showed her grit by breaking Humpy Koneru’s streak.

Arabidze and Dronavalli were the first to finish their game. The Georgian, playing White, employed an aggressive setup in the Queen’s Gambit Declined and obtained a promising position with attacking chances. Harika decided to test the ambition and fighting spirit of her opponent by offering a draw after only fifteen moves, and to her surprise, after some thought Arabidze accepted the offer.

While Harika Dronavalli said she was testing her opponent’s mettle, Arabidze did mention
she preferred rapid games over classical ones. Perhaps her early draw agreement was
for a different plan, aiming to push the match into her turf.

The game of the day was Mariya Muzychuk’s win over the highest rated player of the tournament Humpy Koneru. Prior to the game Koneru had won six games out of six. Today she played black, equalized rather easily and soon seized the initiative on the queenside. She then managed to win a pawn, but Muzychuk in turn created some threats against her king, keeping her own chances alive. Suddenly Humpy carelessly moved her knight away from the action, and then missed a powerful tactical shot, allowing Mariya a big victory.

Mariya Muzychuk has had an excellent campaign so far, crowned by her win today

Mariya Muzychuk vs Humpy Koneru

Muzychuk, MariyaKoneru, Humpy1–0C45WCh Women 20154.126.03.2015

1.e4 e5 2.f3 c6 3.d4 exd4 4.xd4 c5 5.e3 f6 6.c3 ge7 7.g3 d5 8.g2 dxe4 9.0-0 0-0 10.d2 b6 11.e1 xd4 12.xe4 f5 13.xd4 c6 14.xb6 axb6 15.f4 e6 16.b3 h6 17.h3 a3 18.d2 a5 19.b4 a4 20.g4 d8 21.f2 xa2 22.xa2 xa2 23.b5 Obviously the pawn is untouchable since the queen must guard the bishop. a7 24.g5 hxg5 25.xg5 f6?

A terrible blunder that is punished very swiftly by 26.d2‼ Exploiting the back rank weakness. f8 26…xd2 27.e8# 27.d5+ xd5 28.xd5+ h8 29.f7 and now there is no protection against Re8, so… 1–0

Anna Muzychuk, playing black against Pia Cramling, patiently defended a slightly worse
position with an isolated pawn. She tried to revert the situation by offering a pawn sacrifice, aiming to activate her pieces…

…but Cramling declined the offer, and missed a strong reply that could have created serious problems for Black. After the move in the game Muzychuk got sufficient counterplay; the position became balanced, and the players soon agreed to a draw.

Eight players left. Who will be the fortunate last two?

The game between Natalia Pogonina and Zhao Xue was the longest of the day. The position after the opening was about even, but White overestimated her chances, aiming at a kingside attack. After Black’s central punch Pogonina had to switch to defense, but was unsuccessful eventually transposing to an opposite-colored bishops ending that turned out to be won for Black, which Zhao Xue converted.

The gentle arbiters

The irrepressible Sergey Shipov has provided his usual high standard of commentary (in Russian)

Report by Albert Silver and Eteri Kublashvili
Photos by Eteri Kublashvili, Anastasia Karlovich, and Vladimir Barsky


Round 4 rairings / results

Player Fed Rtg G1 G2 G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Muzychuk, Mariya UKR 2526 1 1
Koneru, Humpy IND 2581 0 0
Player Fed Rtg G1 G2 G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Pogonina, Natalia RUS 2456 0 0
Zhao, Xue CHN 2527 1 1
Player Fed Rtg G1 G2 G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Cramling, Pia SWE 2495 ½ 0.5
Muzychuk, Anna UKR 2552 ½ 0.5
Player Fed Rtg G1 G2 G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Arabidze, Meri GEO 2374 ½ 0.5
Harika, Dronavalli IND 2492 ½ 0.5

Schedule

Round 1 – 64 players
March 17 Game 1 3:00 p.m. local time
March 18 Game 2 3:00 p.m. local time
March 19 Tie breaks 3:00 p.m. local time
Round 2 – 32 players
March 20 Game 1 3:00 p.m. local time
March 21 Game 2 3:00 p.m. local time
March 22 Tie breaks 3:00 p.m. local time
Round 3 – 16 players
March 23 Game 1 3:00 p.m. local time
March 24 Game 2 3:00 p.m. local time
March 25 Tie breaks 3:00 p.m. local time
Round 4 – 8 players
March 26 Game 1 3:00 p.m. local time
March 27 Game 2 3:00 p.m. local time
March 28 Tie breaks 3:00 p.m. local time
Round 5 – 4 players
March 29 Game 1 3:00 p.m. local time
March 30 Game 2 3:00 p.m. local time
March 31 Tie breaks 3:00 p.m. local time
Rest day – April, 1
Round 6 – 2 players
April 2 Game 1 3:00 p.m. local time
April 3 Game 2 3:00 p.m. local time
April 4 Game 3 3:00 p.m. local time
April 5 Game 4 3:00 p.m. local time
April 6 Tie breaks 3:00 p.m. local time
April 7 Closing Ceremony*
*Closing Ceremony can be shifted to
April 6 in the absence of tie breaks
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