International Chess Federation
Friday, 06 Dec 2019 23:12
Humpy Koneru earns a draw and keeps the lead

Another exciting day at the Yacht Club with four decisive results. The veteran Pia Cramling, the oldest participant in the event and a member of the Cercle d'Echecs de Montecarlo since 2007, climbs to the second position.

The Grand Prix had the honor to welcome the Honorary Consul General of Russia in Monaco, Mrs. Ekaterina Semenikhin, to launch the fourth round. The diplomat played a symbolic first move in the encounter between former World Champions Alexandra Kosteniuk and Mariya Muzychuk. In an interview given afterward, Mrs. Semenikhin revealed that she had played a part in the organization since she had suggested holding the event at the Yacht Club de Monaco. “As one of the most beautiful buildings in Monaco, symbolizing the modern style and modern life, this is a perfect place for the Grand Prix”, she added.

For the record, the game between Alexandra Kosteniuk and Mariya Muzychuk finished rather early with a draw by repetition. The only other encounter where the point was split witnessed a tense battle. Nana Dzagnidze tried hard to beat Humpy Koneru with the white pieces, as this would enable her to overtake her opponent, who has been leading the tournament since day one. The Georgian got a definite edge from the opening and pushed until the very end. It did not work out as Koneru’s defensive skills and resilience proved sufficient.

In the remaining four games one part came out victorious and surprisingly only once it was White. Valentina Gunina misplayed her Bogo-Indian opening and soon ended up in a critical position against Zhao Xue. The Chinese produced a good game and did not let this chance slip away.

Aleksandra Goryachkina fully recovered from her loss in round two and scored her second consecutive win against Harika Dronavalli. This game seemed to be heading toward a quiet draw, but the World Championship challenger found a way to obtain an edge in the endgame. The Indian did not defend too well, which allowed Goryachkina to display an excellent technique and score a full point.

Pia Cramling is having a great event so far. The Swedish legend, the lowest-rated participant in Monaco, is giving a hard time to her younger competitors. After three initial draws, where she actually missed some chances, Pia overcame the resistance of Elisabeth Paehtz. The German is visibly out of shape, as she inexplicably forgot to exchange queens with 27.Qc8. Cramling managed to put pressure on her opponent after that and won a pawn. The fight ended abruptly with a terrible blunder by Paehtz, although most likely she would have lost anyway.

Kateryna Lagno and Anna Muzychuk played the longest game of the day. Black refrained from castling, which possibly provoked her opponent into an attacking attempt with 14.Ng5. But eventually, this knight ended up being cut off from its own camp. In order to avoid losing this piece, Lagno had to take some drastic measures, which gave Black wonderful play. The Ukrainian won a pawn and converted it convincingly.

Humpy Koneru keeps the lead with three points but is now trailed by four players.

Results of Round 4:
Nana Dzagnidze (Geo) – Humpy Koneru (Ind): ½ - ½
Alexandra Kosteniuk (Rus) – Anna Muzychuk (Ukr): ½ - ½
Kateryna Lagno (Rus) – Mariya Muzychuk (Ukr): 0-1
Zhao Xue (China) – Valentina Gunina (Rus): 1-0
Harika Dronavalli (Ind) – Aleksandra Goryachkina (Rus): 0-1
Elisabeth Paehtz (Ger) – Pia Cramling (Swe): 0-1

Standings after Round 4:
1. Humpy Koneru - 3
2-5. Nana Dzagnidze, Aleksandra Goryachkina, Anna Muzychuk and Pia Cramling - 2½
6-9. Harika Dronavalli, Zhao Xue, Mariya Muzychuk and Alexandra Kosteniuk - 2
10. Kateryna Lagno - 1½
11. Valentina Gunina - 1
12. Elisabeth Paehtz - ½

Round 5, 7 December at 3 pm:
Pia Cramling (Swe) – Nana Dzagnidze (Geo)
Anna Muzychuk (Ukr) – Alexandra Kosteniuk (Rus)
Mariya Muzychuk (Ukr) – Zhao Xue (China)
Valentina Gunina (Rus) – Harika Dronavalli (Ind)
Aleksandra Goryachkina (Rus) – Elisabeth Paehtz (Ger)
Humpy Koneru (Ind) – Kateryna Lagno (Rus)

Official website with live games and commentary by WGM Keti Tsatsalashvili, GM Josif Dorfman and GM Bartlomiej Heberla
Pictures are available in this Dropbox folder.

Text: Yannick Pelletier
Pictures: Karol Bartnik