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Alexandra Kosteniuk wins FIDE Women Grand Prix Munich

By IM Michael Rahal (Munich, Germany)

Despite losing to Chinese phenomenon Zhu Jiner, former Women’s World Champion and winner of the 2021 World Cup Alexandra Kosteniuk added another tournament victory to her list of achievements by winning the Munich International Tournament this afternoon, the second event of the 2022-2023 FIDE Women’s Grand Prix.

In addition to the €15,000 first prize, Kosteniuk will leave Germany with 160 Grand Prix points.

However, it hasn’t been a bed of roses. Kosteniuk recognized that she was not very happy with her performance in many of the games, despite having scored very well.

Luck has been on her side in several games: for example, she was completely lost yesterday against her immediate pursuer Humpy Koneru. India’s top female had a last chance to catch up with the “Chess Queen” by defeating Tan Zhongyi, but she was unable to overcome her opponent’s solid defensive play. 

The bronze medal goes to top Georgian Grand Master Nana Dzagnidze, after an excellent performance of three wins and only one defeat.

Ullrich Krause, President of the German Chess Federation (pictured above)  and Alojzije Jankovic, Vice President of the European Chess Union (pictured below), performed the ceremonial first moves of the final round in the games Kashlinskaya vs Paehtz and Zhu Jiner vs Kosteniuk, respectively.

GM Dzagnidze, Nana vs GM Harika, Dronavalli (0.5-0.5)

The first game to finish in less than half an hour. Dzagnidze and Harika played a theoretical line of the Semi-Tarrasch Queen’s Gambit and called it a day after a totally unforced threefold move repetition.

With this result, both of them finish in the top half of the standings, gaining a few rating points.

Additionally, Harika has finished the tournament undefeated, albeit with only one win.

GM Muzychuk, Anna vs GM Abdumalik, Zhansaya (0.5-0.5)

A few minutes later, a second game ended. Playing with Black, Abdumalik was content to accept a threefold move repetition in a very quiet Four Knights Opening. She finished the tournament with a solid 50% score, quite a good performance after beginning with 0.5/3. 

After three consecutive defeats, Anna Muzychuk draws the last game for a modest final result of 4/11, losing around 18 rating points. She will return to the board in the third event in Delhi (India) with extra motivation to go for a good result. 

GM Koneru, Humpy vs GM Tan, Zhongyi (0.5-0.5)

In an ultra-solid Neo-Grunfeld Opening, Tan Zhongyi equalized comfortably out of the opening. After breaking up the position with 15…e5, the queens were exchanged and Humpy went into the ending with a passed c-pawn. Things were looking good, but she had used up most of her time.

Nonetheless, the engines were suggesting that Black could happily keep the balance with precise play. Humpy was even able to win the exchange, but in the end, accepted her opponent’s draw offer in an equal position.

With this result, Tan Zhongyi finishes on 50% with a very small rating loss, while Humpy Koneru scores an undefeated +2600 performance for the silver medal. Additionally, she takes home 130 Grand Prix points in her attempt to qualify for the Women’s Candidates.

IM Kashlinskaya, Alina vs GM Paehtz, Elisabeth (0.5-0.5)

Paehtz went for the Schlecter system in the Slav defence, one of Gata Kamsky’s pet lines. She equalized comfortably but then went wrong with the thematic break 14…e5? 

Kashlinskaya could have achieved a clear advantage with 17.axb5 but instead played 17.Bf3 and the position was equal again. After subsequent exchanges, the game petered out into a draw.

Elisabeth Paehtz finishes the event with a decent 50% score and a small rating gain, while Alina Kashlinskaya clocks in a slightly disappointing result of 4.5/11 and a small 8-point rating loss.

GM Muzychuk, Mariya vs WGM Wagner, Dinara (0.5-0.5)

Mariya Muzychuk wanted to finish the tournament with a win after her lackluster performance in the second half. In front of her was an ambitious Dinara Wagner, keen to continue her comeback after yesterday’s win. 

The game was a very solid line in the Bb5 Moscow variation of the Sicilian defence. For the most part, both players kept manoeuvring, with Black exchanging as many pieces as possible. 

Approaching time trouble, with less than ten minutes each for the last ten moves, it was anybody’s game. Suddenly Dinara Wagner offered a draw which was accepted by Muzychuk: the situation is approximately equal, although there is still a lot of play in the position. 

Although finishing last in the event, Dinara Wagner only slightly underperformed with respect to her rating (-5 points), while Mariya Muzychuk will not be completely happy with her performance of 5/11, slightly below expectation.

WGM Zhu, Jiner vs GM Kosteniuk, Alexandra (1-0)

Although a draw would be enough for Zhu Jiner to make her International Master norm, her win against Kosteniuk today could have created a huge last-round upset. 

The game began with a complicated Nimzo-Indian variation. The position remained balanced, very strategic, for most of the game until Kosteniuk blundered with 27…Naxc4? 

Zhu Jiner recaptured with 28.Rxc4! and won two pieces for a rook. From there onwards, it was a matter of technique, and Zhu Jiner took no chances, grinding down her opponent until she forced her to resign on move 64, definitely a fitting moment for a chess game.

The closing ceremony and prizegiving took place right after the final round at 7 PM in the Maximillian III room at the Kempinski Hotel. 

Photos: Mark Livshitz

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