Goryachkina wins the Candidates two rounds to spare. Print
Friday, 14 June 2019 17:23

s 20190614 R12 812 Aleksandra Goryachkina Eteri Kublashvili

Aleksandra Goryachkina made a draw against Tan Zhongyi in the twelfth round of the Women's Candidates tournament, a result that ensures none of her rivals can catch her in the standings. With this draw, the youngest player in the field clinches the victory with two rounds to spare.

Goryachkina, who represents the Russian Chess Federation, gains the right to challenge the Women's World Chess Champion Ju Wenjun of China. The finalists of the FIDE Women's World Championship Match will play for a total prize fund of €500,000, which is 150% bigger than in the previous championship match.

The fight for the second place continues and three games of the 12th round finished with a decisive score. Anna Muzychuk defeated Kateryna Lagno and leapfrogged her opponent in the second place. Nana Dzagnidze, who could not win any game after the fourth round, outplayed Alexandra Kosteniuk. Valentina Gunina won the second game in a row this time against Mariya Muzychuk.

After 12 rounds Goryachkina is in the first place with 9 points, Anna Muzychuk is in second place with 6,5 points. Katerina Lagno is in third place with 6 points. Valentina Gunina, Tan Zhongyi, Maria Muzychuk and Nana Dzagnidze have 5,5 points. Alexandra Kosteniuk has 4,5 points.

Tan Zhongyi had a promising position against Alexandra Goryachkina. It seemed the former Women's World Champion had good chances for the victory after the game was transferred into the ending with two bishops and an extra pawn. However, Aleksandra Goryachkina put up a stubborn defence, trying to use in her favour the weak position of White's King. Tan Zhongyi started to play too risky and had a completely lost position at the moment when Goryachkina decided to offer a draw. "The game was really tough, I got a bad position out of the opening. It was also very complicated later. When I saw a draw by repetition, I just went for it. I could not play anymore, I wanted to survive till the end of the tournament," commented Aleksandra after the game.

The winner also spoke about her approach to the Women's Candidates: "I played all games without thinking of the tournament situation and will do the same in the two remaining games". Nevertheless, the champion was visibly happy with her victory and, with a rest day in sight, she allowed herself to relax a little and have some ice-cream.

A typical hedgehog position appeared in the game Dzagnidze-Kosteniuk. Alexandra was trying to prepare Fischer's plan with Kh8-Rg8-g5, but later on, she switched to another typical breakthrough, d6-d5. This gave Black quite interesting counter chances but Nana Dzagnidze found a very precise way to neutralize all Black's threats and won the game.

Kateryna Lagno bravely played the Yanish Gambit of the Ruy Lopez against Anna Muzychuk, but after the game, she regretted her decision: "I should have played something more solid today. The game started and simply finished. I just blundered 19.Qe4 and could have resigned immediately after this move."

By playing 18...e4 or 18...b5 and 19...e4, Katerina could have avoided Qe4 and the game would have continued.

The longest game of the twelfth round between Valentina Gunina and Mariya Muzychuk finished with a victory of the Russian player. In a very complicated middle game, Valentina managed to sharpen the position and won an exchange, after an inaccuracy of her opponent. Black acted carefully and confidently in the endgame and was able to break the resistance after five hours of play.

Report by Anastasiya Karlovich

Photos: Eteri Kublashvili & Anastasiya Karlovich

Round 12 results:

Mariya Muzychuk — Valentina Gunina | 0 — 1
Nana Dzagnidze — Alexandra Kosteniuk | 1 — 0
Tan Zhongyi — Aleksandra Goryachkina | ½ — ½

Anna Muzychuk — Kateryna Lagno | 1 — 0

Saturday, 15th of June is a free day; the 13th round will be played on 16th of June:

Valentina Gunina — Anna Muzychuk  
Alexandra Kosteniuk — Mariya Muzychuk  
Aleksandra Goryachkina — Nana Dzagnidze  
Kateryna Lagno — Tan Zhongyi  

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