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Thursday, 16 Jul 2020 19:15
Hou Yifan, Koneru, Kosteniuk and Khademalsharieh through to semifinals

Hou Yifan, Humpy Koneru, Alexandra Kosteniuk, and Sarasadat Khademalsharieh made it to the semifinals of the final leg of the Women's Speed Chess Grand Prix.

Three quarterfinal matches happened to be a rather lopsided affair. Playing with great speed and confidence Hou Yifan eliminated talented Zhansaya Abdumalik (7.5-3.5), Alexandra Kosteniuk steamrolled Harika Dronavalli (9-3), Sarasadat Khademalsharieh turned in another strong performance and swept aside Anna Muzychuk (7.5-3.5).

Eager to secure her spot in the Super Final, Valentina Gunina pushed hard in her match with Humpy Koneru, but her opponent was also in a feisty mood. In the last bullet game, Valentina had an excellent chance to level the score by simply advancing her queenside pawns in a rook ending but she brought her king in the center instead and allowed Humpy to escape and win the match.

Gunina finished her GP campaign and got two more points for this leg and caught up with  Anna Ushenina on 22 GP points but the latter has better tiebreaks (more game points). It means that Anna Ushenina is guaranteed a place in the Super Final. Hou Yifan, Khademalsharieh, and Kosteniuk are still in the contest for the second spot. It will make semifinals even more exciting.

One of the contenders for the Super Final spot, Kosteniuk shared her impressions of the event so far: "This tournament started very shaky, yesterday I was not happy with the way I performed [against Bibisara Assaubayeva] - too many blunders and I could not keep calm. Today it was a little bit better. Of course, I got lucky in some of the games, but this luck does not come out of anything. You're playing against very strong opponents and in order to make them blunder you really need to work hard."