Four wins and two draws in an exciting third round at the Yacht Club de Monaco. Humpy Koneru keeps the lead.
The second leg of the Women’s Grand Prix seems to run like a clockwork. Like on the previous day, the round ended with four victories and two draws.
The game between Mariya Muzychuk and Kateryna Lagno was a real roller coaster. Lagno’s opening choice clearly backfired, as she quickly found herself in a critical position. But the King’s Indian would not be the King’s Indian if Black was unable to fish in muddy waters by launching a desperate attack. The value of every move is very high and any mistake by White may turn the tables. Muzychuk wasted part of her advantage with 30.Bb6 and even gave Black a winning attack by playing 31.fxe4.
But the position was so unusual and complex that both grandmasters squandered their chances. After Lagno missed a forced mate by 33...Qf4+ (33...Qg5+ instead was winning on the spot), Muzychuk emerged from the time trouble with a winning position and eventually won the game.
In fact, Mariya Muzychuk was not the only player to bounce back from a defeat in round two, as both Valentina Gunina and Aleksandra Goryachkina accomplished the same feet. This proved particularly important for Gunina who had suffered two initial losses. Valentina actually won a very nice game against her compatriot Alexandra Kosteniuk, reminding everybody how dangerous an attacking player she can be.
In her post-game commentary, Goryachkina felt that her win had been rather smooth after her opponent Zhao Xue made a few inaccuracies in the early middle-game. Indeed, she won a pawn with 23.Bxd5, and converted it confidently in the endgame.
Nana Dzagnidze handled the middlegame much better against Elisabeth Paehtz and inflicted a second consecutive defeat to the German. The Georgian gradually increased her advantage and obtained an endgame with a rook and a knight each, where her pieces were much more active.
The leader Humpy Koneru somewhat carelessly allowed Anna Muzychuk to grab a pawn on a7.
Humpy admitted afterwards that had hoped to trap this adventurous Bishop, but timely realized that she actually had to be careful and seek for equality. Koneru was up to the task as she managed a draw by repetition.
Harika Dronavalli and Pia Cramling exchanged queens very early on. The symmetrical structure presaged a quiet game that indeed ended in a draw after 31 moves.
Koneru remains the sole leader but faces one of her pursuers in the next round. With the white pieces, Dzagnidze will certainly try to overtake the Indian.
Results of Round 3:
Elisabeth Paehtz (Ger) – Nana Dzagnidze (Geo): 0-1
Pia Cramling (Swe) – Harika Dronavalli (Ind): ½ - ½
Aleksandra Goryachkina (Rus) – Zhao Xue (China): 1-0
Valentina Gunina (Rus) – Alexandra Kosteniuk (Rus): 1-0
Mariya Muzychuk (Ukr) – Kateryna Lagno (Rus): 1-0
Anna Muzychuk (Ukr) – Humpy Koneru (Ind): ½ - ½
Standings after Round 3:
1. Humpy Koneru - 2½ points
2-3. Nana Dzagnidze and Harika Dronavalli - 2
4-9. Mariya Muzychuk, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Kateryna Lagno, Aleksandra Goryachkina, Anna Muzychuk, and Pia Cramling - 1½
10-11. Zhao Xue and Valentina Gunina - 1
12. Elisabeth Paehtz - ½
Round 4, 6 December at 3 pm:
Nana Dzagnidze (Geo) – Humpy Koneru (Ind)
Alexandra Kosteniuk (Rus) – Anna Muzychuk (Ukr)
Kateryna Lagno (Rus) – Mariya Muzychuk (Ukr)
Zhao Xue (China) – Valentina Gunina (Rus)
Harika Dronavalli (Ind) – Aleksandra Goryachkina (Rus)
Elisabeth Paehtz (Ger) – Pia Cramling (Swe)
Official website with live games and commentary by WGM Keti Tsatsalashvili, GM Josif Dorfman and GM Bartlomiej Heberla: https://wgp2019.fide.com
Pictures are available in this Dropbox folder.