WWch Rd4 tiebreaks: The mighty fall

It was a day when expectations went one way, and reality the other. Not only were all three tiebreaks won by the lower-rated players, but four out of the eight games played were decided in Black’s favor. The biggest surprise was M.Muzychuk’s victory over Koneru after her perfect start, while her sister fell to Pia Cramling. Pogonina beat Zhao Xue once more with her Benko Gambit.

Round four – tiebreaks

The biggest surprise of the day, in a day full of surprises, was Humpy Koneru’s elimination by Maria Muzychuk. The Indian, who had started with a sterling six wins in six games, before reaching the fourth round, stumbled against Muzychuk in their classical games match, forced to fight her opponent off in the tiebreak. In both games the top-seed managed to outplay her opponent quite handily, but a losing blunder in game one of their rapids, cost her a chance at the title.

A grinning Maria Muzychuk after winning her foremost trial by fire embodied by Humpy Koneru

Maria Muzychuck’s older sister Anna, was less fortunate against the veteran Pia Cramling, and after a tense struggle in which both won their game with black, the Swedish player prevailed in the following bout of 10-minute games.

Anna Muzychuk covers her face in disappointment, as she comes to terms with her elimination

Anyone who thought Natalia Pogonina’s choice of the Benko Gambit in the previous day was a fluke, a one-off, was disabused of this notion when the Russian unleashed it once more at the first chance she got. Since Zhao Xue had nothing to show for it, and did not seem to have anything special in store, Pogonina achieved a very comfortable position early on, making better use of her preparation this time.

Zhao Xue vs Natalia Pogonina

Zhao, Xue2527Pogonina, Natalija24560–1A58WCh Women 20154.228.03.2015

1.d4 f6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 g6 6.c3 g7 7.g3 0-0 8.g2 d6 9.f3 xa6 10.0-0 b6 11.d2 c7 12.c4 b4 13.e3 a6 14.b1 b5 15.d2 d4 16.e1 fb8 17.b3 d7 18.c1 b7 19.c4 e5 20.xe5 xe5 21.e3 b5 22.d1 g7 23.a4 c7 24.c3 xc3 25.xc3 d3 26.b2 b4 27.d1 a6 28.dd2 a7 29.a2 a3 30.c2 ab7 31.c1 b4 32.a2 a5 33.d1 b4 34.h4 h5 35.h2 After lengthy maneuvering, Black has placed her pieces nearly ideally, except for one. e8! Time to bring that knight to some place where it can contribute to the struggle. 36.e4 f6 37.f3

c4! A vital break that cracks open the position in favor of Black. After careful preparation in order to get the most benefit from the position, Black is ready. 38.bxc4 xc4 39.a1 b2 It is perhaps counterintuitive for a human to consider repositioning the knight after having done just that, but the engine has no such qualms and recommends 39…d7! with the idea of Ne5 or Nc5 40.xb2 xb2 41.d4 c2! Black is now winning. The complete domination and imminent invasion of White’s position is her doom. 42.e3 b4 43.d3 xd3 44.xd3 xg2+ 45.xg2 b2+ 46.h3 xa1 47.g2 xa4 48.c3 a2+ 49.h3 f2 0–1

In their second game, after a brawl in the middlegame, Pogonina was once more ahead, but was content to force a draw and secure her spot in the next round.

Natalia Pogonina is through to the semifinals after bludgeoning Zhao Xue with the Benko Gambit

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


Round 4 pairings / results

Player Fed Rtg G1 G2 G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Muzychuk, Mariya UKR 2526 1
0
½
1
2.5
Koneru, Humpy IND 2581 0
1
½
0
1.5
Player Fed Rtg G1
G2
G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Pogonina, Natalia RUS 2456 0
1
1
½ 2.5
Zhao, Xue CHN 2527 1
0
0
½ 1.5
Player Fed Rtg G1
G2
G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Cramling, Pia SWE 2495 ½
½
1
0 1
½
3.5
Muzychuk, Anna UKR 2552 ½
½
0
1 0
½
2.5
Player Fed Rtg G1
G2
G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Arabidze, Meri GEO 2374 ½
0
0.5
Harika, Dronavalli IND 2492 ½
1
1.5

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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