Ju Wenjun is triumphant in Khanty-Mansiysk Print
Thursday, 01 December 2016 07:11


Ju Wenjun is triumphant in Khanty-Mansiysk. Nino Batsiashvili won silver, five players tied for 3-7 places

In the final round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Khanty-Mansiysk Ju Wenjun and Natalija Pogonina made a rather quiet draw, and the Chinese player won the tournament with 7,5 points out of 11.

As it was said before, by winning the 5th leg and the whole series of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix, Ju Wenjun qualified to the FIDE Women’s World Chess Championship Match.

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Valentina Gunina chose the Caro-Kann Defence with Black against Alexandra Kosteniuk. In the middlegame, White was attacking on the kingside, while Black were creating a counter play in the center and on the opposite side of the board. As Alexandra confessed after the game, she had played “badly” and had allowed Black to gain initiative and advantage. A strong black rook on the 5th rank became Valentina’s key to success: Black managed to confuse the opponent and win a pawn.

On the 27th move White missed a strong answer by Black, and soon her position turned out to be lost.

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A. Kosteniuk – V. Gunina

A. Kosteniuk  V. Gunina

After 27…Qh4! Alexandra decided to give up her queen for two rooks by playing 28. Nd6 Rxf2 29. Qxf2 Qxf2 30. Nxc8 f5, but the black passers on the kingside determined the outcome of the encounter in Black’s favor.


Harika Dronavalli managed to win a seemingly drawish rook endgame against Almira Skripchenko.

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The draws were agreed in the games Zhukova-Javakhishvili and Girya-Batsiashvili.

Nino Batiashvili, having gained 6,5 points, became the silver medalist of the event.


A very complex game was played by Bela Khotenashvili and Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, where in a sharp endgame both players had good chances to win at some points, but missed the strongest lines, and eventually the game ended in a draw.

According to the Regulations, all prizes and GP ranking points are shared equally, in cases of any tied position/s. No tie break system will be utilised for the individual GP tournaments. So, Valentina Gunina, Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, Dronavalli Harika, Olga Girya, Alexandra Kosteniuk tied for 3-7 places.

Final Standings:

1. Ju Wenjun -7,5, 2. Nino Batsiashvili – 6,5, 3-7. Valentina Gunina, Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, Dronavalli Harika, Olga Girya, Alexandra Kosteniuk - 6, 8. Natalia Zhukova, - 5,5, 9. Bela Khotenashvili - 5, 10-11. Natalija Pogonina, Lela Javakhishvili - 4,5, 12. Almira Skripchenko – 2,5.

The Closing Ceremony was attended by the director of the Department of physical culture and sports of Ugra Igor Gubkin and the Chairman of the Appeals Committee and the Continental President for Africa Lewis Ncube.

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Ju Wenjun scored the most number of cumulative points (413,3 points) in the whole series. Koneru Humpy finished second with 335 points. Valentina Gunina got 287 points and took the third place.

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Ju Wenjun received the Grand Prix winner’s Cup. The winner and the future challenger of the Women’s World Chess Championship Match has confessed that her performance on the tournament was not very smooth. “I was under a lot of pressure not only because of this tournament but also because the final winner of Grand Prix series was defined here. First five games I felt very stressful and played a little bit conservative. After the game lost to Kosteniuk I suddenly relaxed and played more for pleasure and felt less pressure. I decided that my chances of winning the Grand Prix series were now so tiny so I stopped thinking about it and just played chess. Maybe that’s what made the future games easier for me”.

The capital of Ugra says “good-bye” to chess but not for long. In June 2017, the World Team Chess Championships will be conducted here. But the main event will be held in 2020 when Khanty-Mansiysk will host the Chess Olympiad.

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Ju Wenjun wins the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix Series 2015/2016 with one round to go

In the 10th round of the final leg of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix in Khanty-Mansiysk Ju Wenjun won against Nino Batsiashvili and, having gained 413,4 cumulative points, became the winner of the overall GP Series with one round to go. Even in the case of a tie in this tournament, she will be ahead of her chasers.

An impressive result by Ju Wenjun, who will play the match for the crown with the winner of the FIDE Women’s World Chess Championship (Iran, 10-28 February 2017). Our congratulations!

Nino Batsiashvili and Ju Wenjun discussed the Exchange Variation of the Queen’s Gambit. The game went on in the way quite typical for this line with a play on the whole board. At some point, White opened up the center, but in the time trouble she didn’t find the best way to continue with her plan.

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N. Batsiashvili – Ju Wenjun

N. Batsiashvili  Ju Wenjun

After 33. Ne5?! Black managed to make use of the pin by playing 33…Ng5.

Further on Ju Wenjun fully demonstrated her high positional skills.

34. Rc1 Nxe4 35. Rxe4 Nc3! 36. Rf4

36. Rh4 was proposed by Nino at the press conference and considered to be a better try to save the game.

36…Qxc2 37. Rxc2 Nd5 38. Rf3 c3 39. Kf2 Re7

N. Batsiashvili  Ju Wenjun2

On the control move the fatal mistake followed – 40. b6? Re6. Both the b6-pawn cannot be protected, and White’s position falls apart. Nino resigned after the Black’s 48th move.

All other games were drawn.


Alexandra Kosteniuk was successfully defending the Queen’s Indian with Black against Lela Javakhishvili and even created some problems for White in the middlegame. Nevertheless, the drawish tendencies happened to be so strong that the game ended peacefully just before the control.

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Both Natalija Pogonina and Natalia Zhukova were very well prepared in the opening – the Slav Defence with a pawn sacrifice by Black. Still it seems that at some point White could have played sharper trying to hold the material, but Pogonina chose the queens’ exchange, and the draw was agreed in an equal endgame on the 33rd move.


Olga Girya who was playing Black against Sarasadat Khademalsharieh managed to create certain threats to her opponent in the Semi-Slav. Sara was defending very carefully, and didn’t allow Olga to increase her advantage. When the light pieces were exchanged, it became easier for White to create a castle and protect it from the external intrusion. The game ended in a draw after the 36th move made by Black.


Bela Khotenashvili chose the line with a pawn exchange in the Two Knights Opening, playing Black against Almira Skripchenko. The Georgian player was acting very resourcefully and got enough compensation for the pawn. The endgame with queens and different color bishops didn’t leave White any chances to win, and the draw was the most logical outcome.

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The Gunina-Harika game, perhaps, became a disappointment for both players, for White had to defend herself from the middlegame till the endgame, and Black didn’t find the best ways to convert her advantage. Valentina was defending fiercely and snatched out a draw.

Round 10 results:

Javakhishvili – Kosteniuk 1/2-1/2, Gunina – Harika 1/2-1/2, Skripchenko – Khotenashvili 1/2-1/2, Khademalsharieh – Girya 1/2-1/2, Batsiashvili – Ju Wenjun 0-1, Pogonina – Zhukova 1/2-1/2

Standings after round 10:

1. Ju Wenjun -7, 2-3. Nino Batsiashvili, Alexandra Kosteniuk - 6, 4-5. Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, Olga Girya - 5,5, 6-8. Natalia Zhukova, Valentina Gunina, Dronavalli Harika - 5, 9. Bela Khotenashvili - 4,5, 10-11. Natalija Pogonina, Lela Javakhishvili - 4, 12. Almira Skripchenko – 2,5.

The last round starts at 13:00 local time.

Round 11 pairings:

Zhukova - Javakhishvili, Ju Wenjun - Pogonina, Girya - Batsiashvili, Khotenashvili - Khademalsharieh, Harika - Skripchenko, Kosteniuk - Gunina

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Round 9: Ju Wenjun and Nino Batsiashvili heading the tournament race

On the second free day, more participants went to see the hockey match; among the spectators were Alexandra Kotseniuk, Olga Girya, Natalija Pogonina, Lela Javakhishvili, Bela Khotenashvili and Nino Batsiashvili. And again, the ice magic worked out – Olga, Nino and Bela won, Alexandra, Lela and Natalija drew their games. Nobody of the hockey lovers lost.


In the battle of the leaders Ju-Khademalsharieh it was White who celebrated victory. In the Bogo-Indian White got a very comfortable play after a pawn sacrifice, with their rook controlling “d” file, space advantage on the queenside and a strong knight on “c7”. Ju Wenjun demonstrated her high technical skills and made her best to achieve a decisive advantage. Perhaps, Sara wasn’t precise at some moments, and by the 30th move it was very hard for her to defend the position; on the 38th move the Iranian grandmaster resigned.

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Nino Batsiashvili played Black against Natalia Zhukova who was holding the initiative and pushing during the whole game. Natalia made progress on both sides of the board, but Nino was defending hard and managed to create counter chances.

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N. Zhukova - N. Batsiashvili

N. Zhukova - N. Batsiashvili

The tiredness shows itself, and Natalia makes a blunder: 52. Rb5?!

At the press conference both players agreed that it was much better for White to play 52. Qd3 with a possible continuation 52…Qc8 53. a5 Rxf4 54. a6 – an outcome of this position seems to be absolutely unpredictable for human beings.

52…Bc6 53. Rxc5?

53. Qxc5 offered White some chances to survive in an unpleasant endgame without the exchange.

53…Qf1+ 54. Bd1 Rd7 55. Rxc3 Qxd1 56. Kb2 Rd2+, and White resigned.

Almira Skripchenko chose a rare line against Olga Girya with Black and was quite happy with her position from the opening. But in the middlegame she spent much time calculating difficult variations and in the time trouble allowed Olga to grab the initiative after a pawn sacrifice.


O. Girya – A. Skripchenko

O. Girya  A. Skripchenko

32. a5! – a strong resource which was probably unforeseen by Black.

32…Re8? Almira called this move her biggest mistake. 32…Rb8 was much more persistent.

33. axb6 h4 34. Qf5 Qxf5 35. Nxf5 Bb3 36. Ra1, soon White won two pawns and created irresistible threats.


Bela Khotenashvili and Valentina Gunina discussed the Slav Defence, where White was creating fighting actions on the queenside, while Black was constructing her counter play in the center.

Temporarily Black gave up a pawn, but didn’t manage to win it back. Later on, Valentina wasn’t very accurate and lost the second pawn: some moves later she gave up a piece, and her position became irrecoverable.

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Dronavalli Harika found herself in a difficult position in the game against Alexandra Kosteniuk with White in the Petroff Defence. The Indian grandmaster misplayed in the opening, and her situation looked very dangerous. But Alexandra decided to play actively, and performed the march of the “f” pawn from the 7th to the 3rd rank. Alexandra herself criticized this decision, because it allowed White to achieve some coordination of the pieces, and then the position boiled down to a better endgame for White. Black defended very carefully and held a draw, although White had some chances, but they were left behind the curtain.


The shortest game of the round was played between Natalija Pogonina and Lela Javakhishvili. Lela surprised her opponent by playing the Benoni Defence for the first time in her life, and got a rather perspective position with Black. Natalija forced a draw with a threefold repetition when it became possible.

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In the overall standings, the positions of the leaders haven’t changed: 1. Ju Wenjun – 398,3 cumulative points, 2. Humpy Koneru – 335, 3. Alexandra Kosteniuk – 305. But Ju Wenjun is breaking away taking into account her points.

Round 9 results:

Pogonina – Javakhishvili 1/2-1/2, Zhukova – Batsiashvili 0-1, Ju Wenjun – Khademalsharieh 1-0, Girya – Skripchenko 1-0, Khotenashvili – Gunina 1-0, Harika – Kosteniuk 1/2-1/2

Standings after round 9:

1-2. Ju Wenjun, Nino Batsiashvili - 6, 3. Alexandra Kosteniuk - 5,5, 4-5. Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, Olga Girya - 5, 6-8. Natalia Zhukova, Valentina Gunina, Dronavalli Harika - 4,5, 9. Bela Khotenashvili - 4, 10-11. Natalija Pogonina, Lela Javakhishvili - 3,5, 12. Almira Skripchenko - 2.

Round 10 pairings: Javakhishvili – Kosteniuk, Gunina – Harika, Skripchenko – Khotenashvili, Khademalsharieh – Girya, Batsiashvili – Ju Wenjun, Pogonina - Zhukova

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Ju Wenjun, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Sarasadat Khademalsharieh and Nino Batsiashvili leading after the 8th round

On a gloomy Sunday, November 27, the chess world was shocked by the tragic death of the Russian young and talented grandmaster Urii Eliseev (1996-2016). But disasters come treading on each other’s heals…


Before the 8th round of the final leg of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix in Khanty-Mansisyk the news came that Almira Skripchenko didn’t feel well and would miss her game against Ju Wenjun. One of Almira’s best friends Natalia Zhukova called a doctor and was staying with her while it was necessary. Natalia’s game with Sarasadat Khademalsharieh started approximately at 15:20 local time as an exceptional case, and a quick draw followed, after which Natalia came back to the hotel to support Almira.

Now Almira is much better, and we all wish her a speedy recovery! Fortunately, tomorrow is a free day.

The 8th round started with the moment of silence in the memory of Urii Eliseev. Apart from the results mentioned above, two games ended decisively and two games were drawn.

Alexandra Kosteniuk implemented a fresh idea in Ruy Lopez with White against Bela Khotenashvili, who afterwards blundered a pawn in the opening.

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A. Kosteniuk – B. Khotenashvili

A. Kosteniuk  B. Khotenashvili

After 6. Re1 Nc5 7. Bxc6 dxc6 8. Nxe5 Black perhaps should have started with 8…Be7, but Bela preferred 8…Be6 and lost a pawn in two moves.

9. Qh5 Be7?

A. Kosteniuk  B. Khotenashvili2

10. Nxf7! White won a pawn without any compensation from Black’s side.

As Alexandra confessed at the press conference, she wasn’t precise at some moments, and maybe in the endgame Black could equalize, but in a severe time trouble Bela didn’t manage to find the best ways to survive and eventually lost.

Valentina Gunina upset her compatriot Olga Girya in a fighting and very complicated game. Before the time control Valentina started an attack on the kingside, but underestimated a very strong counter play by Olga.

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V. Gunina – O. Girya

V. Gunina  O. Girya


It is impossible to take the knight because the black pawns (b4 and c4) will be unstoppable.

34. h4

Valentina continues her plan to attack the black king. Maybe it wasn’t perfectly correct but in a time trouble it worked out.

34…Nd2! 35. Kg2 Nxb3 36. hxg5 Nh7 37. Be5 Bxg5

The machine recommends just to step back with the bishop – 37…Bf8. After it White’s attack is being choked. But in the game the struggle went on, and it was Black who had to find the right moves.

38. f4 Bf6 39. f5 exf5 40. gxf5 g5 41. Qh6

V. Gunina  O. Girya2

The one and the only move which didn’t lose for Black was the unhuman 41…Nd2! with a probable line 42. Ng3 Nc4 43. Nh5 Nxe5 44. dxe5 d4+ 45. e4 Qc1! 46. exf6 Qd2+ 47. Kg1 Qe3+ with the perpetual check.

Olga played 41…Qb6 and lost after 42. Ng3 Qd8 43. Kh5 Bxe5 44. f6. Black resigned.


The two draws in the games Batsiashvili-Pogonina and Javakhishvili-Harika were very tense and eventful.

Lela Javakhishvili got a better position from the opening, where Dronavalli mixed up some lines. The Georgian player was trying her best to win an endgame, where White had a rook and a bishop while Black was defending with a rook and a knight. Lela managed to win a pawn, but nevertheless couldn’t convert her advantage into a victory. Dronavalli was defending very tenaciously and managed to hold a draw.

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In the game Batsiashvili-Pogonina the players were struggling in a very adherent close position which emerged from the Queen’s Indian Defence. White was pushing in the center and Black organized a counter attack on the queenside, but, as Pogonina said, White’s position became more preferable when Nino managed to put her knight on c6 and after it’s exchange white pawn on c6 became very strong and unpleasant for Black. Nonetheless in a mutual time trouble both sides had chances to achieve a certain edge, but at some points they missed the strongest moves. A draw was agreed by a threefold repetition.

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After the 8th round the situation with the leaders of the GP Series hasn’t changed: 1. Ju Wenjun – 375,8 cumulative points, 2. Humpy Koneru – 335, 3. Alexandra Kosteniuk – 317,5.

Round 8 results:

Javakhishvili – Harika 1/2-1/2, Kosteniuk – Khotenashvili 1-0, Gunina – Girya 1-0, Skripchenko – Ju Wenjun -+, Khademalsharieh – Zhukova 1/2-1/2, Batsiashvili – Pogonina 1/2-1/2

Standings after round 8:

1-4. Ju Wenjun, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, Nino Batsiashvili - 5, 5-6. Natalia Zhukova, Valentina Gunina - 4,5, 7-8. Olga Girya, Dronavalli Harika - 4, 9-11. Bela Khotenashvili, Natalija Pogonina, Lela Javakhishvili - 3, 12. Almira Skripchenko - 2.

November 28 is a free day.

Round 9 pairings:

Pogonina – Javakhishvili, Zhukova – Batsiashvili, Ju Wenjun – Khademalsharieh, Girya – Skripchenko, Khotenashvili – Gunina, Harika - Kosteniuk

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Round 7: Sarasadat Khademalsharieh catches up with the leader

In the 7th round of the final of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix in Khanty-Mansiysk Nino Batsiashvili lost to her compatriot Lela Javakhishvili and was caught up by Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, who won against Natalija Pogonina.

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In the game Pogonina-Khademalsharieh a rare line of the Catalan Opening was discussed, where the queens were exchanged quite early. In the middlegame White had a certain advantage but a couple of not very precise decisions led to an equal rook-and-knight endgame. Further on, Black’s position tended to be more preferable due to its pieces and pawns’ better structure and placement, and finally Sara managed to create strong connected passers on the queenside. In a severe mutual time-trouble Natalija didn’t find a way to survival.


N. Pogonina – S. Khademalsharieh

N. Pogonina  S. Khademalsharieh

Almost all the moves except 50. Rxa3?, which was chosen by White, led to a drawish position.

For example, 50. Re1 Ne7 51. Nd4 c3 52. Ke5 b4 53. Kf6 b3 54. Nxb3 Rxb3 55. Kxe7 c2 56. Rc1.

50…Kxa3 – and Black won by force.

51. Ke4 c3 52. Nd4 Nxd4 53. e7 c2 54. E8Q c1Q, and on the 60th move Sarasadat celebrated victory.

Nino Batsiashvili played rather aggressively in the game against Lela Javakhishvili, but the position demanded a calmer approach.


N. Batsiashvili – L. Javakhishvili

N. Batsiashvili  L. Javakhishvili

Black got a very comfortable play after the opening, but White didn’t want to put up with it and opened the kingside. Nevertheless, the position of the White king wasn’t determined and this fact caused many problems for Nino.

In the game, she missed Lela’s counter play: 18. Rd4?! (probably 18. Rh3 was the best resource for White) Bxf3 19. gxf3 Ne5 20. Rxd8+ Rxd8 21. Rh3 b4, and in several moves Black created very unpleasant threats against the White king. Lela Javakhishvili won her first game in the tournament.

Valentina Gunina applied a very bold knight sacrifice in the game against Ju Wenjun, but later on she was not very precise and didn’t manage to get a decent initiative for the lost material. The Chinese player resisted all the threats in cold blood and eventually won the game.

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Ju Wenjun – V. Gunina

Ju Wenjun  V. Gunina

14…Nxf2! – the move is in Baadur Jobava’s style, who celebrated his birthday on November 26.

15. Kxf2 Bc5+ 16. Be3 Bxe3+ 17. Kxe3 Rc8

Perhaps, Valentina mixed up the move order, for Black should have started with 17…f6 followed by an approximate line 18. Kf2 fxe5+ 19. Kg1 Qg5 with obvious compensation.

18. Qd2! After this strong Wenjun’s reply Black cannot put her queen on g5.

Ju Wenjun  V. Gunina2

Then the opponents were playing quite logically, but still Black didn’t manage to create dangerous threats against the opponent’s king.

18…f6 19. Kf2 fxe5+ 20. Kg1 Qe7 21. Nc3 Qc5+ 22. e3 Qe7 23. Rac1 h5 24. h4 Rcd8 25. e4 d4 26. Nb1

26…Rf6? is a crucial mistake because after 27. Qg5 White is winning more material. On the 41st move Gunina resigned.

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Natalia Zhukova won (the second game in a row) against Almira Skripchenko, who admitted that she wasn’t in her best shape in the tournament. In the opening Almira implemented an interesting idea, achieved an agreeable position, and, at some point, Black was even better. Still the play drifted to an equal endgame with queens, rooks and bishops, but for some reason Black gave up the “b” file and since then the troubles began. Natalia was acting very energetically creating threats on the both sides of the board with her queen and rook connected on the 8th rank, and after a forced queens’ exchange she won a pawn and very soon – the game.

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Alexandra Kosteniuk, who was playing Black against Olga Girya, mixed up some lines in the Bogo-Indian Defence and had to defend a difficult position. As the 12th world chess champion said at the press conference, her opponent’s imprecise play had allowed her to escape serious trouble. Step by step the position was equalizing and simplifying, and on the 32nd move the draw was agreed.


Bela Khotenashvili and Dronavalli Harika discussed the Catalan Opening, where the play didn’t really exceed the limits of equality, so the draw became the most logical outcome.

After her win in the 7th round Ju Wenjun once again tops the overall standings of the FIDE Grand Prix Series. Humpy Koneru is several points behind, while Alexandra Kosteniuk is currently occupying the third place.

Round 7 results:

Batsiashvili – Javakhishvili 0-1, Pogonina – Khademalsharieh 0-1, Zhukova – Skripchenko 1-0, Ju Wenjun – Gunina 1-0, Girya – Kosteniuk 1/2-1/2, Khotenashvili – Harika 1/2-1/2

Standings after round 7:

1-2. Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, Nino Batsiashvili - 4,5, 3-6. Alexandra Kosteniuk, Natalia Zhukova, Olga Girya, Ju Wenjun - 4, 7-8. Valentina Gunia, Dronavalli Harika - 3,5, 9. Bela Khotenashvili - 3, 10-11. Natalija Pogonina, Lela Javakhishvili - 2,5, 12. Almira Skripchenko - 2.

Round 8 pairings:

Javakhishvili - Harika, Kosteniuk - Khotenashvili, Gunina - Girya, Skripchenko – Ju Wenjun, Khademalsharieh - Zhukova, Batsiashvili – Pogonina

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Round 6: Alexandra Kosteniuk and Natalia Zhukova win in the 6th round

Nino Batsiashvili is maintaining the lead at the 5th leg of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix in Khanty-Mansiysk, but the peloton is growing – now Sarasadat Khademalsharieh and the Russians Alexandra Kosteniuk, Valentina Gunina and Olga Girya are following her within 1 point behind.

As always, the more games are being played, the more tired the participants are, and thus the amount of bitter mistakes and lost chances is growing.

Valentina Gunina self-destructed in the game against Natalia Zhukova and eventually lost.


V. Gunina – N. Zhukova

V. Gunina  N. Zhukova

Although White’s position may seem to be a little suspicious, there is actually no danger for her. Valentina, as she said at the press conference, had calculated many lines and had chosen the riskiest move 21. h4?!

21. Bxe4 lead to an equal endgame with a normal positional play.

21. Qh5 22. Bxe4?

In the game Gunina miscalculated the lines connected with 22. Be2, but still it was more preferable for White after 22… Rxd2 23. Bxh5 (Valentina considered 23. Rxd2 Qf5! winning material after 24. Bd3 Qd5) 23…Rxb2 24. Nxb2, and the position is playable for White.

22…Qxd1+ 23. Rxd1 Rxd1+, and step by step Black converted her advantage in a long-term struggle.

Ju Wenjun chose the Petroff Defence against Alexandra Kosteniuk with Black, but her opponent was quite enough ready for it. Alexandra was pushing on the kingside, not being afraid of the far-advanced “d” pawn of Black. In the time trouble White managed to create considerable threats to the black king, and at the 39th move Wenjun made a mistake.


A. Kosteniuk – Ju Wenjun

A. Kosteniuk  Ju Wenjun


It was better for Black to play, for example, 39… Rg7 and it’s hard for White to invent something winning just on the spot.

40. Qh4! Kf8 41. hxg6 hxg6 42. Rxd3! Rxd3 43. Rxd3 Qg8 44. Rd8+, and soon White celebrated victory.

In all other games the draws were made.


Almira Skripchenko and Natalija Pogonina discussed the Giouco Piano where the pieces and pawns’ structure resembled a little bit the one from the 10th game of the World Chess Championship Match in New York. White got a very comfortable position with a certain edge, but at some point, Almira, probably, acted not very precisely, and the play gradually equalized. Although there were many pieces left on the board, the players agreed to a draw on the 31th move.

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Olga Girya met Dronavalli Harika’s 1.e4 with the Caro-Kann Defence (the first one at the tournament), and after the game the Indian grandmaster confessed, that she hadn’t remembered her preparation exactly. After the opening Black achieved a comfortable play and gained the initiative. In a very complex middlegame both sides were acting energetically, though being in a time trouble, but perhaps Black shouldn’t have offered queens’ exchange, after which the game simplified a lot, and the draw became the most logical outcome.

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In the Georgian derby Javakhishvili-Khotenashvili the latter has chosen the Gruenfeld Defence for the second time in a row. White had a space advantage, but Black were defending very accurately, and Lela didn’t manage to break her opponent’s bastions.


The leader of the tournament Nino Batsiashvili made her first draw playing Black against Sarasadat Khademalsharieh. In the middlegame after the Queen’s Indian White has chosen not the most precise plan and Black managed to solve all their problems. Further on, the play didn’t step over the bounds of equality, and logically drifted to a draw.

The current leader of the whole series is… Humpy Koneru, due to the losses of Ju Wenjun and Valentina Gunina. But there are 5 more rounds ahead, so, as Alexandra Kosteniuk said at the press conference, everything would be decided in the last three rounds as usually.

Round 6 results:

Javakhishvili – Khotenashvili 1/2-1/2, Harika – Girya 1/2-1/2, Kosteniuk – Ju Wenjun 1-0, Gunina – Zhukova 0-1, Skripchenko – Pogonina 1/2-1/2, Khademalsharieh – Batsiashvili 1/2-1/2

Standings after round 6:

1. Nino Batsiashvili - 4,5, 2-5. Valentina Gunina, Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, Olga Girya, Alexandra Kosteniuk - 3,5, 6-8. Dronavalli Harika, Ju Wenjun, Natalia Zhukova – 3, 9-10. Natalija Pogonina, Bela Khotenashvili - 2,5, 11. Almira Skripchenko - 2, 12. Lela Javakhishvili – 1,5.

Round 7 pairings:

Batsiashvili – Javakhishvili, Pogonina – Khademalsharieh, Zhukova – Skripchenko, Ju Wenjun – Gunina, Girya – Kosteniuk, Khotenashvili - Harika

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Round 5: Nino Batsiashvili strikes back and takes the lead again

After the rest day, the players resumed fighting with new energy, but nevertheless the 5th round turned out to be one of the most peaceful affairs so far. Only Nino Batsiashvili and Bela Khotenashvili, who had visited the hockey match on a rest day, were successful today.

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Nino Batsiashvili recovered after the 4th round’s loss having won against Almira Skripchenko and thus grabbing the sole lead again. Almira chose quite a rare opening line with Black, but Nino was well prepared and managed to gain initiative right from the start.

“I didn’t get out of the opening”, - said Skripchenko at the press conference.

White got a straightforward attack on the kingside, while both kings were left at the center. It was a rather difficult task for Black to defend herself, and Almira missed one beautiful strike from White as well.

N. Batsiashvili – A. Skripchenko

N. Batsiashvili  A. Skripchenko

16. Rxh7! Rxh7

16…Bxh7 17. Qh5+ Bg6 18. Qxg6+ Kh8 19. Bh6+

17. Qxg6+ Rf7 18. Be2! Nf8 19. Qh5! Bf6 20. Bg4 Qe7

N. Batsiashvili  A. Skripchenko2

Nino was very precise in converting her advantage, while Black found herself in a kind of a zugzwang.

21. Ng5 c5 22. Be6 Bxg5 23. Bxg5 Qc7 24. a4 b6. 25. Ra3, and Black resigned. A convincing victory for Nino Batsiashvili.


Bela Khotenashvili won her first game in the tournament, against Olga Girya, while the latter suffered her first defeat.

In the Gruenfeld Defense White (according to Olga) forgot the lines and was fighting for the equality. But Black’s precise and energetic actions on the queenside were too hard to beat off, and after the exchanges White lost a pawn and then didn’t manage to survive in the endgame with different color bishops.

All other games were drawn.

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Ju Wenjun and Dronavalli Harika played the Catalan Opening, where Black put into effect an interesting plan. White responded quite logically and later on chose the line, which eventually led to a threefold repetition. A draw was agreed at the 19th move.

IMG 1684

In the Russian derby Pogonina-Gunina the former improved her play from the game against Humpy Koneru (Rhodes, 2013), changed the plan and got a very comfortable position with White. Black started a pawn advance on the queenside, which was firmly met by the White’s counterattack in the center, and Natalija achieved a solid edge. But, having spent much time in the middlegame, Pogonina didn’t manage to make the most of it and, at some point, allowed Gunina to equalize and escape.

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Natalia Zhukova chose the Trompowsky Attack with White against Alexandra Kosteniuk. The game turned out to be a very interesting battle, with many lines to be calculated. White castled long, while black king’s position wasn’t determined almost till the end of the game. Both sides were acting rather precisely in mutual complications, and then many exchanges followed. The draw was agreed in an equal rook endgame with almost all the pawns left.


Quite a calm game was played by Sarasadat Khademalsharieh and Lela Javakhishvili in the Queen’s Gambit Declined. Although a certain advantage was on the White’s side, still Black’s position stayed very solid, and Sarasadat decided not to squeeze water from stone trying to break Black’s castle, and the draw followed at the 40th move.

Current standings of the whole GP Series are making Ju Wenjun happy: at the moment, she is the leader. But Valentina Gunina is breathing down her neck.

Round 5 results:

Khademalsharieh – Javakhishvili 1/2-1/2, Batsiashvili – Skripchenko 1-0, Pogonina – Gunina 1/2-1/2, Zhukova – Kosteniuk 1/2-1/2, Ju Wenjun – Harika 1/2-1/2, Girya – Khotenashvili 0-1

Standings after round 5:

1. Nino Batsiashvili - 4, 2. Valentina Gunina - 3,5, 3-5. Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, Ju Wenjun, Olga Girya - 3, 6-7. Alexandra Kosteniuk, Dronavalli Harika - 2,5, 8-10. Natalija Pogonina, Natalia Zhukova, Bela Khotenashvili - 2, 11. Almira Skripchenko - 1,5, 12. Lela Javakhishvili - 1.

Round 6 pairings:

Javakhishvili - Khotenashvili, Harika - Girya, Kosteniuk – Ju Wenjun, Gunina - Zhukova, Skripchenko - Pogonina, Khademalsharieh - Batsiashvili

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Round 4: Gunina and Girya catching up with the leader

After Sergey Karjakin had caused a stir in the chess world with his win against Magnus Carlsen in the 8th game and then enjoyed the rest day, the participants of the 5th leg of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix in Khanty-Mansiysk were fighting even more self-sacrificing than before.

Valentina Gunina outplayed the sole leader of the event Nino Batsiashvili with White. The Russian chess player gained advantage from the opening and Black was forced to break through in the center, but in further complications White won two pawns. Then Valentina was not very precise, and Nino could have forced a draw.

V. Gunina – N. Batsiashvili

V. Gunina  N. Batsiashvili

34…Qe2 was a certain survival for Nino – in all the lines Black could equalize.

Instead Nino played 34…Nc3? allowing White to avoid all perpetual-check complications. Still the fight has lasted for more than 40 moves, but White eventually won.

Gunina became one of the leaders, as well as Olga Girya who won against Lela Javakhishvili.

Lela Javakhishvili misplayed in the opening with White and Black got a very pleasant position with her knight on d3. At one point Olga weakened her attention, so that Lela could achieve an uneasy balance.


L. Javakhishvili – O. Girya

L. Javakhishvili  O. Girya

17…Ne5?! allowed White to rehabilitate herself after the opening.

18. Nc3 b6 19. g5?

Much better was 19. Nxe4 with a possible line 19…Nxe4 20. Bxe4 bxa5 21. d4, and White acquired chances to survive.

In the game Girya won a piece 19…Nf3+ 20. Bxf3 exf3 21. Qxf3 Nd7 22. Qxc6 Qxg5+ 23. Kh2 Rd8, and soon Black celebrated the victory.

Alexandra Kosteniuk created a very nice positional masterpiece with White against Natalia Pogonina. In the Giouco Piano White managed to achieve a very comfortable position with a number of good plans. Alexandra preferred to set an outpost in the center and then began an action on the queenside. Natalija tried to create a certain active play on the other side of the chessboard, but didn’t succeed in it. White opened a second front on the kingside and put the black monarch in danger.


A. Kosteniuk – N. Pogonina

A. Kosteniuk  N. Pogonina

34. g3 Re6 35. Kg2 Re8 36. Qc1 Rh8 37. Qh1 h5 38. Rd1, and soon the Castle Black has fallen.

Dronavalli Harika moved to 50 percent having won the game against Natalija Zhukova. The Ukrainian grandmaster chose the French Defence with 7…b6, and, as Dronavalli said at the press conference, this line proved to be quite hard to defend. The Indian grandmaster noted that she’s played this variant for Black a lot, and knows many tricky lines how to shatter Black’s position, especially after having analyzed Michael Adams’s games.

In the position with different-sided castles Natalia chose a dubious plan by taking the pawn on d4 thus opening the “c” file, and then White started dominating on both sides. Playing precisely and energetically Harika grabbed a victory.

Quite a smooth game was played by Almira Skripchenko and Sarasadat Khademalsharieh in the Giouco Piano. Probably in the middlegame White went for the exchanges a little bit early, and then the position started to simplify step by step. The chess players agreed to a draw after Black had made her 30th move.


Another draw happened in the game Khotenashvili-Ju. The players discussed the Catalan Opening with a pawn sacrifice by White. Both sides were acting quite accurately, and although the position was full of pieces, the opponents decided to force a draw by a threefold repetition.

After 4 games there are three leaders – Valentina Gunina, Olga Girya and Nino Batsiashvili, who have gained 3 points. Ju Wenjun and Sarasadat Khademalsharieh are 0,5 point behind.

Round 4 results:

Javakhishvili – Girya 0-1, Khotenashvili – Ju Wenjun 1/2-1/2, Harika – Zhukova 1-0, Kosteniuk – Pogonina 1-0, Gunina – Batsiashvili 1-0, Skripchenko – Khademalsharieh 1/2-1/2

We remind you that Wednesday, November 23, is a rest day.

Standings after round 4:

1-3. Valentina Gunina, Nino Batsiashvili, Olga Girya - 3, 4-5. Ju Wenjun, Sarasadat Khademalsharieh - 2,5, 6-7. Alexandra Kosteniuk, Dronavalli Harika - 2, 8-10. Natalija Pogonina, Natalia Zhukova, Almira Skripchenko - по 1,5, 11. Bela Khotenashvili - 1, 12. Lela Javakhishvili - 0,5.

Round 5 pairings:

Khademalsharieh - Javakhishvili, Batsiashvili - Skripchenko, Pogonina - Gunina, Zhukova - Kosteniuk, Ju Wenjun - Harika, Girya - Khotenashvili

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Round 3: Nino The Sensational

In the third round of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix in Khanty-Mansiysk the sole leader was determined.

Nino Batsiashvili gained the third victory in a row having outplayed Alexandra Kosteniuk. The opponents discussed the Nimzo-Indian with 4. Qc2.

After the game Nino said the fight had been very hard and complicated, but up to some point it had been more or less equal. Indeed, Black had no problems after the opening. Still White managed to open up the center and afterwards allowed Alexandra to go for an acute line.

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N. Batsiashvili – A. Kosteniuk

N. Batsiashvili  A. Kosteniuk

22…Bxg2 – a very brave decision.

After the game the 12th world chess champion supposed that it had been better to play, for example, 22…Rfe8 with a possible continuation 23. Bxf6 gxf6 24. Bf1.

23. Rac1 Bxe5 24. dxe5 Rfe8

24…Rae8 was a more precise move.

25. Bg4 f6 26. e6 f5 27. Rc5 Qd6

N. Batsiashvili  A. Kosteniuk2

After the bishops had been swapped, the white pawn on e6 appeared to be tremendously strong and Black’s defensive task was practically impossible. Acting very precisely and carefully Nino Batsiashvili achieved her third victory.

Sarasadat Khademalsharieh demonstrated her will and a strong fighting spirit after her 2nd round’s dramatic struggle and won the game against Valentina Gunina with White. As the Russian grandmaster confessed she had forgotten the lines in the Queen’s Indian and had spent much time – an hour – in the opening. Then she decided to sharpen the play and found herself in a very difficult situation.


S. Khademalsharieh – V. Gunina

S. Khademalsharieh  V. Gunina


At this moment Sarasadat was thinking for 20 minutes and found the best solution.

16. Qc1!

Now the black Queen feels quite uncomfortable in the center.

16…Nh5 17. Rd1 Qf6 18. Ne4 Qg6 19. Nxd6 Rxe2 20. Nxb7 Rae8 21. d6 Nd3

Here the computer “proposes” an interesting but a bit unhuman move 22. Qc4, however in the game Sasaradat chose 22. Rxd3 Qxd3 23. Bf1 Nxf4

And then the play become double-edged, what the Iranian player didn’t like at all remembering the nightmare of the 2nd game.

But still Valentina was in a severe time-trouble, and White’s material advantage was enough to secure the win.

All other games ended in a draw.


The shortest game of the round was played between Ju Wenjun and Olga Girya, who were engaged in the Slav Defense. The queens were exchanged quite early, Black successfully resolved her opening problems and achieved an agreeable position with the castles on the queenside. The threefold repetition followed at the move 27.


Almira Skripchenko also didn’t manage to get a serious advantage in the Rossolimo Sicilian with white pieces in the game against Lela Javakhishvili. At one moment White could have brought certain problems to Black, but Almira chose another plan and the game went on quite smoothly. The opponents forced a draw after the 27th move made by Black.


Natalia Zhukova, who played White with Bela Khotenashvili, suffered some unpleasant moments after having allowed her opponent’s pawn to be placed on d3. But later Natalia defended very resourcefully and neutralized Bela’s threats.

Natalija Pogonina got a rather perspective position with White in the middlegame against Harika Dronavalli, and the latter had to give up an exchange to untie herself a little bit.

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“I decided to make it complicated”, - said Harika at the press conference. And her plan has worked out – in the mutual time trouble it turned out to be quite hard for White to convert her material edge. The game ended in a draw on the 41th move.

Nino Batsiashvili with 3 points has become the sole leader after three rounds. Ju Wenjun, Valentina Gunina, Olga Girya and Sarasadat Khademalsharieh are one point behind.

Round 3 results:

Skripchenko – Javakhisvili 1/2-1/2, Khademalsharieh – Gunina 1-0, Batsiashvili – Kosteniuk 1-0, Pogonina – Harika 1/2-1/2, Zhukova – Khotenashvili 1/2-1/2, Ju Wenjun – Girya 1/2-1/2

Standings after round 3:

1. Nino Batsiashvili - 3, 2-5. Ju Wenjun, Valentina Gunina, Olga Girya, Sarasadat Khademalsharieh - 2, 6-7. Natalija Pogonina, Natalia Zhukova – 1,5, 8-10. Alexandra Kosteniuk, Almira Skripchenko, Dronavalli Harika - 1, 11-12. Lela Javakhishvili, Bela Khotenashvili – 0,5.

Round 4 pairings:

Javakhishvili - Girya, Khotenashvili – Ju Wenjun, Harika - Zhukova, Kosteniuk - Pogonina, Gunina - Batsiashvili, Skripchenko - Khademalsharieh

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Round 2: Gunina and Batsiashvili strengthening their presence

The second round of the 5th FIDE Women’s Grand-Prix leg in Khanty-Mansisyk turned out to be full of fight and even more bloody than the first one.

As CEO of FIDE Geoffrey Borg said at the press conference, “women’s chess is always very exciting. Men may be technically higher but we do see the higher percentage of draws with men. There’s a much higher respect from men that in certain positions they will not try to squeeze something whereas a women grandmaster will normally take an extra risk. Sometimes there’s a lot of psychology going on the board in women’s chess”.

And indeed – in the second round we could witness much risk, psychology, tension and unexpected results.

ART 0731-683x1024

Both Valentina Gunina and Nino Batsiashvili won their games to become the leaders of the tournament race.

In the game Gunina-Skripchenko it came to a mate, what cannot be very often seen at such high-level events.

Valentina said that she had prepared the King’s Indian, but didn’t exactly remember all the lines. In her turn, Almira confessed that she had overprepared and during the game was spending much time recalling the nuances thus lacking energy.

White got a very promising position in the middlegame with a strong pawn on c5 and an open “d” file. Gunina managed to improve her pieces’ positions by very clever maneuvers, and in the severe time-trouble Skripchenko misplayed.

V. Gunina – A. Skripchenko

Gunina Skripchenko


At the press-conference Almira proposed 29…a6 in this position with a possible continuation 30. Na5 Ne6 31. Nxe6 Bxe6 32. Qb4 Re7. 33. Bc4 – White’s position is better, but still Black is holding on.

Almira Skripchenko: “I didn’t want to create any weakness, but in the end I was making one blunder after another”.

30. Na5 Nf6 31. Rb1 Qa8 32. Bc4 Re7 33. Baf7+ Nxf7 34. Nc4 Rd7?

34… h6 is a more stubborn move.

Gunina Skripchenko 2

And now the Black’s position is being knocked down like a house of cards.

35. Nxe5 Nxe5 36. Qb3+ Rf7 37. Ne6 h6 38. Nxe5, White won a pawn and soon – the game.

All other decisive results were achieved by Black.

Nino Batsiashvili upset Dronavalli Harika, who achieved a certain advantage in Giuoco Piano.

Nino Batsiashvili: “My opponent plays all the openings, that’s why I had prepared everything. But at the end of the game I was very tired”.

Nevertheless, Black was very resourceful in defense and created a counter play.

ART 0701

D. Harika – N. Batsiashvili

Harika Batsiashvili

In this position White should have played 36. Qxc4 just winning a pawn, but Harika made a mistake by taking the rook on e4.

36. Rxe4 Qxe4 37. f3 Qe6

And then the fatal blunder followed – 38. Rf1? Ne2, and after gaining the exchange it took Black not so much time to win the game.

Actually, it is the best start for Nino Batsiashvili in all the stages of the FIDE Women’s Grand Pix Series so far.

Ju Wenjun outplayed Lela Javakhishvili in a very long and tense fight. The Georgian chess player admitted that at some point she was ready to resign, but then the opponent had started playing not very precisely and the game went on and on.

Black chose quite an aggressive line in the Ragozin Defence with an early pawn advance on the kingside – 7…g5 and then 8…f5. Both kings were left in the center, so the position became double-edged from the very beginning.

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L. Javakhishvili – Ju Wenjun

Javakhishvili  Ju Wenjun

An innocent move 12. e3?! resulted in many troubles for White. It was more preferable for her to continue with the development by playing

12. Bg2. 12…f4 13. exf4

Lela forgot about the move 13…Qe7, but still she could defend herself by 14. Ne5 with an approximate line 14…gxf4 15. Qh5+ Kd8. Ju Wenjun was going to play like this but wasn’t sure about the resulting position.

14. Be2 gxf4 15. 0-0 Bh3 16. Re1 fxg3 17. fxg3 0-0-0 – white king’s position is in danger, but Ju Wenjun, who was desperately lacking time, didn’t manage to win on the spot and postponed the struggle to the endgame with different color bishops and an extra pawn for Black. Acting very persistent, the Chinese player gained a victory on the Black’s 96th move.

Bela Khotenashvili and Natalija Pogonina, who both lost the 1st round games, tried to play solid and chose the Reti Opening. The encounter went on rather equal, but in the middlegame Black succeeded in getting something going. Natalija created a pawn attack on the queenside, and White had to give up a pawn, but, nevertheless, their position became worse and worse. Pogonina converted her material advantage with an iron hand.

A real thriller happened in the game Kosteniuk-Khademalsharieh. At some point, Black allowed White to create an attack on her king by sacrificing a pawn and then – a piece.

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A. Kosteniuk – S. Khademalsharieh

Kosteniuk  S. Khademalsharieh

28. Nxh6+ - the 12th world chess champion demonstrates her determination to fight. At the press conference Alexandra mentioned that it had seemed to her during the game that the best solution for Black had been to take on h6. Instead Sarasadat played 28…Kf8, allowing White to continue her attack.

29. Rf5 gxh6 30. Qc3 Re4 (more precise defensive resource was 20…Qe4) 31. Bxh6+ Ke8 32. Qh8+ Kd7 33. Rxf7+ Ke6

Black’s position with her king in the center looks desperate, but some moves later White made a fatal blunder.

Kosteniuk  S. Khademalsharieh2

39. Bxd6?

The moment when Alexandra took the pawn she realized that Black had defense.

39…Kxd6 40. Rd1 Rd4

Then there was no doubt that Black would convert two pieces into a victory but Sarasadat was the last one to make a mistake.

Kosteniuk  S. Khademalsharieh3

68…Kf5? 69. Qd5+ - White took one of the knights and on the 75th move the players agreed to a draw.

Quite a smooth and solid game in the Semi-Slav Defence was played by Olga Girya and Natalia Zhukova: the draw became the most logical outcome.

Standings after round 2:

1-2. Valentina Gunina, Nino Batsiashvili - 2, 2-3. Ju Wenjun, Olga Girya - 1,5, 5-8. Alexandra Kosteniuk, Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, Natalija Pogonina, Natalia Zhukova - 1, 9-10. Almira Skripchenko, Dronavalli Harika - 0,5, 11-12. Lela Javakhishvili, Bela Khotenashvili - 0.

Round 3 pairings:

Skripchenko - Javakhisvili, Khademalsharieh - Gunina, Batsiashvili - Kosteniuk, Pogonina - Harika, Zhukova - Khotenashvili, Ju Wenjun – Girya

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Round 1: Gunina, Batsiashvili and Girya start the tournament with victories

On the 19th of November, the first games of the 5th leg of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix Series were played in Khanty-Mansisyk.

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The Governor of Ugra Natalia Komarova and CEO of FIDE Geoffrey Borg made the first honorary moves in the Russian derby Pogonina-Girya. Although the first honorary moves had been 1. e4 – e5 and then the fight started with 1.d4 d5, it seemed that the Governor’s taking part in the game helped Ugra’s representative Olga Girya win convincingly.

In a rare line of the Slav Defense with the white knight standing on e2 instead of f3, Black managed to take a pawn on c4 in a fortunate moment, and it appeared quite difficult to win it back for White.

Black improved her pieces and pawn structure methodically and gained a solid edge. Being in a time trouble Natalija missed a trick and her position deteriorated close to losing.

N. Pogonina – O. Girya

Pogonina   Girya

After 29… Ng3+ White cannot procced with 30. Bxg3 fxg3 31. Ne4 Rxe5, and the only move is 31. Ng4 with a loss of tempo.

30. Kg1 Ne6 31. Bxg3 fxg3 32. Ne4 Nxd4 33. Nd6 Nf5, and step by step Black has transferred its material advantage into a victory.

At the press conference the players confessed that they have played a lot against each other and have a great a lot of history behind, so it wasn’t a problem for them to play the 1st round’s game.

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One of the leaders of the series Valentina Gunina outplayed Lela Javakhishvili with White in the Catalan opening.

The game went on quite smoothly and reached an endgame with rooks and pieces with an extra (but very weak) pawn on a2 for White. Still Black had very good chances for a draw due to the so-called advantage of two bishops.

As the Georgian chess player confessed after the game, her crucial mistake was the decision to exchange the rooks:

V. Gunina – L. Javakhishvili

Gunina  Javakhishvili

29…Rb1?! 30. Rxb1 Nxb1 31. Be4 Nc3?

In the time trouble Black made one more mistake, which led to their quick capitulation. It was better to play 31…fxg5 not allowing the white pieces gain initiative on the kingside.

32. Bxh7+ Kf8 33. Ng6+ Ke8 34. Nxe6, and White successfully converted three extra pawns.

The second national derby of the round between Nino Batsiashvili and Bela Khotenashvili ended in favor of White. The opponents played a quite sharp line of the Gruenfeld Defense, where Black managed to organize a strong and dangerous play in the center and on the kingside. Nevertheless, Bela spent much time for finding best solutions and got into a time trouble. In a position with unequal material correlation Black made a mistake which helped White seize the initiative.

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N. Batsiashvili – B. Khotenashvili

Batsiashvili Khotenashvili


Bela was thinking about the move 20…Qe4 which was indeed much better, but still decided to take a pawn. If she had played 20…Qe4 the game could have continued with 21. Ng4 f5 22. Qd3 Qxd3 23. Bxd3 fxg4 with two extra pawns for Black.

21. Ng4 Bc3+ 22. Kf1 Qh3+ 23. Rg2 h5 24. Nh2 – White managed to keep an extra piece and further on proved that it was stronger than three black pawns.


A very complicated game was played by Natalia Zhukova and Ju Wenjun in the English Opening, which at some point acquired a form of Ragozin. Although both players assessed the position to be very complicated and dangerous, it maintained to be more or less equal. White was trying to arrange some active play in the center and on the kingside while Black was pushing on the queenside.

In the time trouble the game sharpened a lot, but the grandmasters were up to task, making the only moves, and at last each side promoted the pawn. White managed to take two black pawns with his new queen, but white king’s vulnerable position didn’t allow Natalia to play for a win: Ju Wenjun secured a draw with the perpetual.

After the game the Chinese player confessed that she feels a certain pressure being one of the leaders of the FIDE GP series, but she is planning to play games one by one and make her best.


A very solid play happened in the encounter between Sarasadat Khademalsharieh and Harika Dronavalli. In the Moscow variation of Slav Defense the position didn’t really push the limits of equality, Black managed to get a comfortable play, and on the 31st move the opponents agreed to a draw.

It’s the first time for Sarasadat to play in Khanty-Mansiysk and she confessed that the weather was really cold for her, but everything, including the playing hall, was fine.

IMG 0310

A quick draw occurred in the game Skripchenko-Kosteniuk. The players performed a threefold repetition in the Scotch Opening and agreed to a draw on the 13th move.

Standings after round 1:

1-3. Valentina Gunina, Olga Girya, Nino Batsiasvili - 1, 4-9. Almira Skripchenko, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, Harika Dronavalli, Natalia Zhukova, Ju Wenjun - 0,5, 10-12. Lela Javakhishvili, Bela Khotenashvili, Natalija Pogonina - 0.

Round 2 pairings:

Javakhishvili – Ju, Girya – Zhukova, Khotenashvili – Pogonina, Harika – Batsiashvili, Kosteniuk – Khademalsharieh, Gunina – Skripchenko

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The final leg the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix Series 2015/2016 in Khanty-Mansiysk declared open

The event takes place at the Ugra Chess Academy, famous for its world class competitions, including Women’s World Blitz and Rapid Championships of 2013 and 2014, 2014 Candidates tournament, final leg of the FIDE Grand Prix 2014/15. These days the Academy once again gathered renowned grandmasters, FIDE representatives, regional officials, and young students of the Ugra Chess Academy, who make their first steps on the way to perfection in this mind game.

The leaders of modern women’s chess arrived in the capital of Ugra from seven countries – China, Iran, Ukraine, India, France, Georgia, and Russia. A parade of the participating countries was organized in their honor.

The opening ceremony of the tournament was attended by the CEO of FIDE Geoffrey Borg and the director of the department of physical culture and sports of Ugra Igor Gubkin. Mr Gubkin was the first to address to the tournament participants. He congratulated the players on staring the event and wished them success. “Once again Khanty-Mansiysk welcomes an international chess tournament. We are thankful to FIDE for having a pleasure of organizing this event. I assure you that we prepared well and will carry out this tournament at the highest level of organization”, – added the director of the sports department.

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“I would like to thank the governor of Ugra Natalia Komarova, the president of Ugra Chess Federation Vasily Filipenko, “UgraMegaSport” and Igor Gubkin and, of course, our chess friends and dear chess players. I am very happy to be here again. Just last month I was here for the World Youth Championships. And as our good friend said Khanty-Mansiysk is actually today probably the leading chess city in the world. This morning I made a small exercise and counted at least 11 times that we were here in Khanty-Mansiysk for major chess events. I was a bit surprised today to know that 2 players haven’t been here before, because out of 12 players 10 have been here for some tournaments in the past. So we welcome you to show them your hospitality. Many players have been here for several events and have pleasant memories of them. This event is very important because it will determine the overall winner of the Women’s Grand Prix Series. We have the additional pleasure, of course, that women are playing fighting chess so there will be very interesting games. And it will be balanced by the generous hospitality of the host city”, – said Geoffrey Borg.

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After the speeches of the officials, the Chief Arbiter of the tournament, IA Rathinam Anantharam from India, drew the lots.

The players were assigned the following starting numbers:

1. Valentina Gunina, 2. Almira Skripchenko, 3. Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, 4. Nino Batsiashvili, 5. Natalija Pogonina, 6. Natalia Zhukova, 7. Ju Wenjun, 8. Olga Girya, 9. Bela Khotenashvili, 10. Harika Dronavalli, 11. Alexandra Kosteniuk, 12. Lela Javakhishvili.

Therefore, the first round pairings look as follows:

Gunina – Javakhishvili Skripchenko – Kosteniuk
Khademalsharieh – Harika Dronavalli
Batsiashvili – Khotenashvili
Pogonina – Girya
Zhukova – Ju Wenjun

The finale of the opening ceremony saw the dance routine of the Dance Academy – Children Theater of Modern Dance, dedicated to chess.

We would like to remind you that the concluding leg of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix is a second major chess tournament organized in Khanty-Mansiysk this year. In October the capital of Ugra hosted the FIDE Youth Championships Under 14, 16, and 18. In the near future Khanty-Mansiysk will host a number of top events, including the 2020 World Chess Olympiad. This will be a second Olympiad for our city, which organized the main team chess event of the calendar in 2010.

Official website http://wgp2016.fide.com/

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The fifth leg the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix Series 2015/2016 starts in Khanty-Mansiysk in a few days

From the 18th of November till the 2nd of December the capital of Ugra will host the final and decisive leg of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix 2015/2016. The venue for the tournament is Ugra Chess Academy.

For many years Khanty-Mansiysk and Ugra Chess Academy in particular have been one of the most convenient and hospitable venues for various chess tournaments: from the FIDE Candidates 2014 to all kinds of regional events. In the coming years, the capital of Ugra will host many important chess competitions including the World Chess Olympiad in 2020 (it will be already the second Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk, the first one was organized in 2010).

The participants of the fifth leg of the FIDE Women’s GP are Ju Wenjun (2580, China), Alexandra Kosteniuk (2555, Russia), Dronavalli Harika (2543, India), Valentina Gunina (2525, Russia), Natalija Pogonina (2492, Russia), Nina Batsiashvili (2489, Gerogia), Lela Javakhishvili (2461, Georgia), Almira Skripchenko (2455, France), Olga Girya (2450, Russia), Natalia Zhukova (2448, Ukraine), Sarasadat Khademalsharieh (2435, Iran) and Bela Khotenashvili (2426, Georgia).

The players will compete in a round-robin tournament of 11 rounds. Time control: for each player 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move from move one. The players cannot draw a game by agreement before black’s 30th move. A claim for a draw before black’s 30th move is permitted only through the Chief Arbiter (or his Deputy) in the cases of perpetual check or threefold repetition.

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Schedule: Pre-start press-conference, Technical meeting and Opening ceremony: November 18. Playing days: 19-22, 24-27 November, 29 November – 01 December. The closing ceremony: 01 December. The games start at 15:00 local time (11:00 Central European time). The last round begins at 11:00 (7:00 Central European time).

The total prize fund is 60 000 euros, with 10 000 euros for the winner. A further 15 000 euros goes towards an accumulated fund for the overall best placed women.

The winner of the Women’s Grand Prix series 2015/16 will play with the Women World Champion in a 10-game match for the Women’s World Championship title.

According to the Regulations of the Women’s Grand Prix Series, the event consists of five tournaments. Each player participates in 3 of 5 tournaments. The winner of a leg of the series scores 120 points + 40 bonus, the silver medalist gains 110 points + 20 bonus, and the third-place winner – 100 points + 10 bonus. In the case of any tie in a tournament, the Grand Prix ranking points and prize money are split equally. The overall winner of the Grand Prix will be the one who will score the most number of cumulative points.

The current leader of the series is Humpy Koneru from India who has 335 points but has already taken part in three Grand Prix tournaments. The Chinese players Ju Wenjun and Zhao Xue occupy the second and third places in the overall standings with 235⅓ and 250 points respectively. However, Zhao Xue is not playing in Khanty-Mansiysk, so only Ju Wenjun will be able to get more ranking points.

Other players who have theoretical chances to win the series are the Russian grandmasters Valentina Gunina (205 points) and Alexandra Kosteniuk (195 points), and Dronavalli Harika from India (190 points).

The name of the winner will become known on the 1st of December.

The video broadcast of the tournament in English will be organized by the "ChessCast" company. The commentator is GM Evgenij Miroshnichenko.

Official website http://wgp2016.fide.com/

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