Round 8 of the FIDE Women Grand Prix in New Delhi saw Bibisara and Zhu draw as Goryachkina makes a lucky escape in a completely lost position against Lagno Two games ended in a draw and two with a victory for White in Round Eight of the Women’s Grand Prix in New Delhi. Here are the results of today’s games:
Kateryna Lagno – Aleksandra Goryachkina, ½ – ½
Harika Dronavalli – Nino Batsiashvili, 1 – 0
Polina Shuvalova – Vaishali Ramehsbabu, 1 – 0
Zhu Jiner – Bibisara Assaubayeva, ½ – ½
Nana Dzagnidze and Humpy Koneru had a rest day. Scroll down for the full standings.
FIDE Women Grand Prix New Delhi so far: Report round 1 / Report round 2 / Report round 3 / Report round 4 / Report round 5 / Report round 6 / Report round 7
Parallel: FIDE Women Candidates Chess 2023 / Report round 1 / Report round 2 / Report round 3 / Report round 4
Starting soon: Nepo – Ding 2023 game 1 LIVE , part of the World Chess Championship 2023
The game between two favourites of the Grand Prix series, Kateryna Lagno and Aleksandra Goryachkina, ended in a surprising draw. In the Berlin of Ruy Lopez, Goryachkina badly misplayed in the middlegame allowing White to dominate. After nearly five hours of play, Lagno was completely winning. The position needed some calculating, but Lagno was desperately low on time, so she decided to repeat the moves.
Bibisara Assaubayeva played the King’s Indian against Zhu Jiner and achieved an even position but was not fully comfortable with her perspective. Both tried to find a way to victory but were satisfied with a draw and were the first to finish.
Polina Shuvalova defeated Vaishali Ramehsbabu in the Gruenfeld Defence. Shuvalova was the one who made fewer errors in the game, which saw both sides win and drop advantages. Due to time trouble, Vaishali overlooked a dangerous attack by Black and had no choice but to resign.
Harika Dronavalli had a lucky break as she managed to turn a worse position into a victory against Nino Batsiashvili. After outplaying her opponent in the Ruy Lopez, Nino Batsiashvili could not find the right plan and first allowed her opponent to equalize and then blundered, ending in a lost position.
With three more rounds to go, Bibisara Assaubayeva leads with five points, while Zhu is second with 4½. Goryachkina and Lagno share third place with four points.
Here follows a closer look at the games of Round 8.
Kateryna Lagno – Aleksandra Goraychkina
This was a duel between two strong favourites in the Women’s Grand Prix as well as two closely matched players. Out of 18 games played between them, each has three victories, with other games ending in a draw.
In the Berlin variation of the Ruy Lopez, Lagno went for the closed line (with 4.d3) to avoid the endgame and emerged slightly better thanks to greater spacial control in the centre.
Goryachkina played 18…c5 here, closing her bishop on a7 and allowing White to make a push through the centre with 19.e5!
After 19…dxe5 Lagno should have put her d-knight on f5 to maintain the initiative. Instead, she retreated this piece with 20.Nf3 and now after 20…Qd6 the position roughly even again.
In the subsequent play, Black sacrificed her a5-pawn. White eventually planted one of her knights on f5 and opened up the centre with 27.f4. Goryachkina’s reaction was suboptimal as Lagno regrouped her pieces and got the upper hand.
White is dominant all over the board: she is a pawn up, has more space, more initiative, better coordination of pieces and is preparing a direct attack on Black. However, Lagno had one problem – the clock. She was desperately down on time, with just under two minutes, while Goryachkina had nearly half an hour.
Goryachkina now made what a fatal error: 36…Qxc4. Now White could break the black king’s fortress and win the queen with 37. Nxf6+ gxf6 38. Qg3+ Kf8 39. Ng6+ Kg8 40. Ne5+ Kh8 41. Nxc4 and that would have been it.
Lagno missed this and played 37.bxc5 and sacrificed the knight only after 37…Ba5 38.Nf6+ gxf6
White had a win that was not so difficult to find. Namely, 39.Qg3+ Kf8 (Kh8) 40.Kg6+ Kg8 41.Rxe8 Bxe8 42.Rxe8 Rxe8 43.Ne5+ capturing the queen.
However, with just seconds on her clock, Lagno played 39.Rxe8 Bxe8 40.Re4 (White has an overwhelming position, but there is no immediate win anymore) Qd5 41.Rxd4 Qxc5 42.Qg3+ Kf8 43.Ng6+ Kf7 and here White forced a draw by perpetual 44.Nh8+ Kf8
It is hard to blame Kateryna for missing 45.Rd7!! winning. She may have seen that move, but could not have managed to find and check all the lines afterwards. The game ended in a draw after 45.Ng6+ Kf7 46.Nh8 Kf8.
Goryachkina had a very lucky escape today, and Lagno was clearly displeased with the outcome. Goraychkina and Lagno are now both on four points.
Harika Dronavalli – Nino Batsiashvili
The two have played six times so far and Harika was in the lead with two to one in victories, and there were three draws. This was an important game for both sides as neither has scored a victory in this tournament until this round.
Harika started with 1.e4 instead of her usual 1.d4 or 1.Nf3. Batsiashvili replied with 1…e5, and the two proceeded with the Archangel variation of the Ruy Lopez. The same line was played between Lagno and Batsiashvili in Round Six, ending in a draw.
Harika closed the centre with d4-d5 but completely misplayed the opening and ended up a pawn down with no real compensation.
However, Black did not find the right plan (a straightforward 18…Bxe3 19.fxe3 a5 followed by 20…a4 looks highly unpleasant for White) and let her advantage slip away. By move 25 White equalized after making a thematic push c4-c5.
Both opponents made small inaccuracies in the final portion of the game, but it was Nino who buckled under pressure.
38…Re8? and after 39.Ra2! Ra5?? 40.Qh6 White is crushing, combining the threats to Black’s king with the pressure along the c-file.
Harika finished the game with an effective tactical blow.
46.Ne6! Fxe6 47.Rf3+ and Black will lose her queen, 1-0.
Polina Shuvalova – Vaishali Rameshbabu
Out of 14 games played between the two, the score is 7:6 for Shuvalova, with only one draw.
In all the previous games where she was White against Vaishali, Polina opted for 1.e4, but this time she played her first move with the queen’s pawn.
The game saw the line with 6.Bb5+ in the Gruenfeld Defence with the opponents following the encounter Graf – Kovchan (Warsaw, 2005) up to move 14. Shuvalova then deviated with 14.Be3 (Bb2 played in the original game seems slightly better), and after 14…Nxf3 15.gxf3 Bh3 16.Re1 Black equalized.
Here, however, Vaishali made her first error. Instead of 16…Rc8 or 16…Bc3, she went for 16…Qa5. White could now have played 17.Bg5, threatening the e7 pawn and forcing Black to lose a tempo. Instead, she immediately took on b7, getting an extra pawn but allowing Black to activate her black-squared bishop by placing it on c3.
Soon the position was even again. Vaishali then made another mistake.
Black now played 22…e6? Cutting off her h3-bishop and potentially ending up with a weak pawn on e6. White should have played her bishop to d7, pinning the e6 pawn at the same time protecting White’s a4-pawn. Instead, she opted for 23.d6? and after 23…Bd4! Black eased the pressure. All the time, White had to be careful of her back rank, as Black was potentially threatening mate.
However, after 24.f4 e5 25.Bxd4 exd4 26.Bb5 d3? Vaishali gave up her pawn too early. She should have played 26…Qb4 instead. Now a series of exchanges followed, and Black ended with a free runner on the a-file, but White had a dangerous d-passer and more active pieces.
Vaishali was also in trouble with the clock – by this point, she had just two minutes, while Shuvalova had 20.
Strictly speaking, White’s best option was 33.Bc4, whereas 33.f5, played by Polina, was not so strong, but ironically it became the shortest way to victory as Vaishali made a fatal error by taking the pawn. After 33…gxf5 Qh5! Black was completely lost.
A big comeback for Polina Shuvalova following her tragic loss in Round 6. She now has 3½ points. The young Indian chess star Vaishali Rameshbabu is struggling and has just three draws so far.
Zhu Jiner – Bibisara Assaubayeva
The two have played only four times until now. Zhu won two, Bibisara one, and there was one draw.
In the King’s, Indian White opted for a plan with an early exchange of her dark-squared bishop, but her only achievement was Black’s doubled pawns on the d-file.
Black proceeded with a push on the queenside, while White countered by getting her rook to c7, going for an exchange and trying to break Black’s advance on the left flank. Eventually,
White captured the pawn on a5, but Black’s d3-pawn was causing problems, especially as Bibisara found an excellent way to protect it with heavy pieces and also have them play an active role in obstructing White from advancing.
Soon, Bibisara recaptured White’s e4-pawn, traded the queens and the two ended in a drawn endgame and decided to call it a day.
This is only the second draw in the tournament for Bibisara and she is on five points. Zhu has 4½.
Round Nine of the third leg of the Women’s Grand Prix will take place on Monday, 3rd April at 3 PM local time.
Standings after Round 8:
Round 9 pairings:
Bibisara Assaubayeva – Nana Dzagnidze
Vaishali Rameshbabu – Humpy Koneru
Nino Batsiashvili – Polina Shuvalova
Aleksandra Goryachkina – Harika Dronavalli
Kateryna Lagno and Zhu Jiner have a rest day.
Text: Milan Dinic
Photo: Ismael Nieto
About the Women’s Grand Prix
The FIDE Women’s Grand Prix consists of four tournaments played between September 2022 and May 2023 and includes 16 women players who take part in three of the four tournaments. The two players who score the greatest number of cumulative points in the series shall qualify for the FIDE Women Candidates Tournament 2023-24.
The players participating in the Women’s Grand Prix have been selected based on their performance in key FIDE events and their ELO. Also, each of the four local tournament organisers has a right to nominate a player of their choice.
The time control for the tournament is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move one.
The total prize fund for each one of the four events is €80,000, with another €80,000 being distributed among the top eight players in the overall standings for the Grand Prix series.
General information about the venue and the dates
The third leg of the Women’s Grand Prix will take place in New Delhi’s Leela Ambience Convention Hotel. The five-star hotel is designed to cater to business events and large meetings and should make an ideal place for a tournament of this level.
The rounds will be played each day from 3 PM local time (9.30 GMT).