GM Kateryna Lagno and GM Aleksandra Goryachkina qualified for the Candidates.
It’s not often that the lowest-rated player in the field takes down a tough event, but WGM Dinara Wagner fought against the odds in Cyprus and achieved the most important success in her career.
In the last-round, must-win scenario, Wagner defeated GM Bella Khotenashvili with Black in one of the most exciting rounds of chess I have ever witnessed. In addition to winning the fourth leg of the 2022-2023 FIDE Women’s Grand Prix and the first prize of 15,000 euros, Wagner scored her second IM norm and her first GM norm.
With her important last-round win over IM Oliwia Kiolbasa, IM Polina Shuvalova shared second to fourth place with former World Champion GM Tan Zhongyi (third) and GM Harika Dronavalli (fourth), taking second on tiebreaks.
The first game to finish in a draw was Lagno vs Assaubayeva. Although they played more than thirty moves, it was all home preparation, and both players seemed content with the result.
Soon after, Goryachkina and Harika also split the point: with this result, Harika secured a well-deserved spot at the top of the table, confirming once again that her poor result in Delhi was already forgotten. Goryachkina also had a good reason to draw: after a series of very unfortunate results, a draw secured her qualification for the Candidates.
Mammadzada and Kosteniuk battled it out in a technical queenless French Tarrasch, but neither of the two was able to unbalance the position to her favour, and the draw became inevitable.
Shuvalova caught her opponent in opening preparation, and once again, Kiolbasa spent a huge amount of time: soon, she was in time trouble. Shuvalova missed a win and soon found herself in a complicated position but eventually, Kiolbasa blundered under the pressure.
40.Qxh6+ forced resignation due to 40…gxh6 41.Rg1+
In the key game of the day, Wagner outplayed her opponent with a very dangerous kingside attack, finishing things off with a nice tactic.
34…Bg2! Many roads lead to Rome and it is one of them. Bella tried 35.f3 but capitulated after 35…Qf4+ as Black checkmates in seven.
From then on, she just had to wait to see if Tan Zhongyi could take advantage of her extra material against Dzagnidze. After some ups and downs, one of the most exciting games of the event ended in a draw.
FIDE WGP Cyprus final standings
Regarding the overall scores of the full Grand Prix, the winner is GM Kateryna Lagno, followed closely by GM Aleksandra Goryachkina. Both of these players qualify for the 2024 Women’s Candidates Tournament.
Check out an interview with the overall winner of FIDE Women’s Grand Prix 2022-2023, Kateryna Lagno.
FIDE Women's Grand Prix 2022-2023 final standings
During the closing ceremony FIDE General Secretary Lukasz Turlej expressed his gratitude to the Cyprus Chess Federation and partners Freedom Finance for the invitation to dispute the event in Nicosia and for the great conditions, hotel, and playing venue.
Evgeniy Tyapkin, Executive Director of Freedom Finance Europe, confirmed that they were committed to cultivating the framework, the competition and the excitement in their partnership with FIDE in Cyprus and across the world.
Olga Milko, Director of Business Development at Freedom Finance Europe, reminded everyone about the equality of opportunities. “Chess develops many strategic skills at the same time. Scientific research confirms that there is no difference in intelligence between genders, and if all other things are equal, girls show even better results.”
Finally, Criton Tornaritis, President of the Cyprus Chess Federation, took the stage, congratulated all the players, and expressed his wish to see everyone again next year and organize more events in the future.
Text: IM Michael Rahal (Nicosia, Cyprus)
Photos: Mark Livshitz
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