Round 4: Katerina Lahno is the sole leader
The victory of Katerina Lahno over Alexandra Kosteniuk made Ukrainian player the sole leader in the tournament. It was a day of sacrifices as in 4 out of sixth games playing Black Katerina Lahno, Tuvshintugs Batchimeg, Olga Girya, Vikrtorija Cmilyte sacrificed their knights and 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 extra bishop and knight against king. Surprisingly, Olga Girya managed to survive!
Dzagnidze- Tuvshintugs 1-0
Tuvshintugs Batchimeg chose to play Grunfeld with Black. Georgian player got a comfortable position and after Be2 Mongolian player decided to give the knight for three pawns and transferred the game into the ending. Black could have protected the knight by playing 18…b5 but after 19.ab Black 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 Mongolian player was 26…Kf8, since that moment Nana didn’t let any chance for her opponent to save the game.
The Sheveningen variation in Sicilian, chosen by players, had happened 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 2 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 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 the 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 pawn d5 and managed to create threats. On the time trouble it was not easy to defend for Black. Bela Khotenashvili sacrificed an exchange but it didn’t change the evaluation of the position.
Viktorija Cmilyte chose to play an interesting line with 7…g5 which she 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 weak White’s king and late 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 seems that Qe3 was enough to continue the direct attack and Hou Yifan estimated her position as very dangerous. Instead, Lithuanian player went for Qg4 and missed 24.Qd3. Check later the game analyzes provided by GM Adrain Mikhalchishin.
Ju Wenjun-Muzychuk 1/2-1/2
For the third time in the tournament Anna Muzychuk transfers 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 slightly better position as he gets d5 square. Ju Wenjun agreed that Black had simple play and the game was drawn after 39 moves.
Ushenina – Girya 1/2-1/2
Slav Defence appeared on the board and the world champion chose to play quiet line increasing her slight advantage. It was clear for Olga Girya she had to sacrifice a knight 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 counter play and recourses to fight for a draw. Nevertheless Black just kept on playing and managed to safe the game.