The victory of Kateryna Lahno over Alexandra Kosteniuk made the Ukrainian player the sole leader in the tournament. It was a day of sacrifices as in four out of six games, Kateryna Lahno, Tuvshintugs Batchimeg, Olga Girya and Vikrtorija Cmilyte sacrificed their knights; Bela Khotenashvili sacrificed an exchange.
Viktorija Cmilyte had a very strong attack but missed a few chances against Hou Yifan. Tatiana Kosintseva defeated Bela Khotenashvili. The biggest sensation of the round became the draw between Ushenina and Girya. The world champion had a huge advantage and confidently transferred the game into the ending with and extra bishop and knight against king. Surprisingly, Olga Girya managed to survive!
Dzagnidze- Tuvshintugs 1-0
Tuvshintugs Batchimeg chose to play the Gruenfeld with Black. The Georgian player got a comfortable position and, after Be2, the Mongolian player decided to give the knight for three pawns and transferred the game into the endgame. Black could have protected the knight by playing 18…b5 but after 19.ab, Black’s position was just worse. Nana Dzagnidze played very precisely in the endgame increasing the power of her pieces step by step. The crucial mistake of the Mongolian player was 26…Kf8. From that moment on, Nana did not give her opponent any chance to save the game.
The Sheveningen variation in the Sicilian chosen by the players was seen many times in the match Kasparov-Karpov. The position became very sharp after 28…Qf4. White went for a force line and managed to win a piece for two pawns. However, Black’s initiative became very strong and White had to play precisely in order not to give counter chances. Despite the calm calculation of the computer, which holds White’s position, it was hard for Alexandra Kosteniuk to defend against all the threats, especially under the time pressure. One of the chances to hold the position for White was to play 35.Qg2 instead of 35.Ng2.
Tatiana Kosintseva had to face Caro-Kann for the second time in a row and managed to get a position with a slight advantage. Black missed an interesting opportunity to equalize the game with the move 18…f6. White tried to use the weakness of the d5 pawn and managed to create threats. On time trouble, it was not easy to defend for Black. Bela Khotenashvili sacrificed an exchange but this did not change the evaluation of the position.
Viktorija Cmilyte chose to play an interesting line with 7…g5 that she had checked 2-3 years ago. She remembered that white had to place their knight on h4 as after Ne1, Black got quite comfortable play. 16…d5 was an interesting try to play against the weak white king; later on, Viktorija succeeded to create a dangerous attack after 18…Nh3!. The critical moment happened on the move 21 when Black had to choose one out many opportunities. It seemed that Qe3 was enough to continue the direct attack and Hou Yifan estimated her position as very dangerous. Instead, the Lithuanian player went for Qg4 and missed 24.Qd3.
Ju Wenjun-Muzychuk 1/2-1/2
For third time in the tournament, Anna Muzychuk transferred the game to the endgame right after the opening. This time she was playing with Black and dc was a logical decision, as after fg cd, White had a slightly better position as she gets the d5 square. Ju Wenjun agreed that Black had a simple play and the game was drawn after 39 moves.
Ushenina – Girya 1/2-1/2
The Slav Defence appeared on the board and the world champion chose to play a quiet line to increase her slight advantage. It was clear for Olga Girya that she had to sacrifice a knight or, otherwise, White would advance his pawns in the center. Black got quite good compensation for the knight and could get a strong initiative by playing 31…h4. White secured his position by changing queens and when the first time control passed, it became obvious that Black had not enough counterplay and resources to fight for a draw. Nevertheless, Black just kept on playing and managed to save the game.
The tournament continues tomorrow with the fifth round.
Standings after 4 rounds: