Round 2: Hou Yifan and Ju Wenjun won their games
Hou Yifan defeated Bela Khotenashvili to take an early lead after two rounds together with Anna Muzychuk, who made a draw against Katerina Lahno. Another Chinese player Ju Wenjun managed to recover after yesterday’s game and won against Mongolian player Batchimeg Tuvshintugs. The similar pawn structure happened in the games Ushenina-Cmilyte and Dzagnidze-Kosintseva but in both games white didn’t manage to use the weakness of isolated pawn and games finished in draws. Two Russian players also shared a point after the long duel in a sharp line of Caro-Kann.
Georgian player preferred to avoid the main lines in a Two Knights Caro-Kann and went for a dubious continuation 7…Qb6. Former World Champion decided to sacrifice a pawn and got the position with initiative. While Black was trying to develop his pieces, White managed to reestablish the material balance and got a very pleasant position. According to Bela Khotenashvili, White had huge advantage and it was hard to defend with Black. Nevertheless, Black could still put up a stubborn resistance after 18…Qb6 19.c5 Qd8. After 18…Qb8 Georgian player lost a pawn and position became hopeless.
Ju Wenjun- Batchimeg Tuvshintugs 1-0
White didn’t get anything special out of the opening but was trying to keep the pressure during the game. Mongolian player found an interesting idea 18…c3, 19…c4 and got very comfortable position. Both players agreed it would be hard to get any chances for White if Black kept one pair of rook on the board, as after the exchanges the power of White’s two bishops became decisive in the endgame.
“ I was checking this line long time ago but remembered that White has enough compensation for the pawn”, said Katerina Lahno during the press-conference. The position was also new for Anna Muzychuk, so she spent all her time and had 1 minute left after 20 moves. Luckily for Slovenian player there is different time control here (in contrast with Men’s Grand Prix) and players get increment of 30 seconds per move from move one. Nevertheless, the position was sharp and it was not easy to find the exact moves. Anna decided to sacrifice a pawn as she didn’t want to play the worse endgame and tried to find the compensation. Katerina felt that she could have tried to improve her play but it was not easy to find the right moment. After 24…Bc4 Black managed to solve his problems and game finished in a draw after 40 moves.
Nana Dzagnidze decided to surprise her opponent with the opening choice and the classical position with isolated pawn appeared on the board. According to Tatiana Kosintseva, 13…Bf5 was dubious as normally bishop is placed on e6 in such positions. After 19. Nc7 Black had an interesting opportunity Qd6 but instead Russian GM played Bc7 and let her opponent to get the position with edge. Both players missed maneuver Bd2, which could have helped White to increase his advantage. Instead, the players repeated the moves and game finished in a draw.
Another game where Black ended up in the position with isolated pawn. Viktorija Cmilyte got very comfortable position after the opening and could have changed the queens on move 17th in order to make a draw. According to Viktorija Cmilyte, she decided to keep the queens instead because her opponent spent a lot of time till that moment, so she chose to maintain the pressure. Anna Ushenina changed the dark square bishops and queens and could have tried to continue playing the rook and knight endgame without risk.
The opponents followed a very sharp line successfully played by their compatriot Sergey Karjakin with White. Both of them remembered the game which finished in a draw after 20…Ke8 21. Rc8 Kd7 22.Rc7 but the move 20…Kd8 played by Olga Girya looked more logical. Olga Girya defended very well and after many exchanges Black just simply kept an extra pawn and It was Alexandra’s turn to play precisely. The former world champion found very good defensive moves and managed to make a draw.