Round 9: Muzychuk and Khotenashvili won their games and keep on leading
In the ninth round of Neva Fondation Women Grand Prix both leaders Anna Muzychuk (Slovenia) and Bela Khotenashvili (Georgia) won their games and share the first place with 6,5 points. Georgian player defeated Olga Girya to complete her last GM norm. Tatiana Kosintseva (Russia) outplayed Katerina Lahno and placed third half a point behind the leaders. Chinese derby Hou – Ju finished in a draw as well as the games Ushenina-Dzagnidze and Cmilyte-Kosteniuk.
“I didn’t have any problems in the opening and I think the position was about equal”, said Alexandra Kosteniuk at the press-conference. At the same time she was not sure if 10…e5 was a correct move as after short castle, she didn’t know what to do. Both players agreed that after 14…c5 Black could equalize the position but Alexandra simply missed this chance and had to play precisely not to get into troubles. The position became very complicated after 25.Rd8-Rg8. White could have played 27.Ng3 and transfer the game into the ending with extra-pawn. Viktorija Cmilyte chose to play 27.Bd5 instead and missed 27…Bb7. The White’s rook was trapped and Lithuanian player had to sacrifice her knight in order to set free her rook. The player ended up in the endgame rook against bishop and knight. Black missed few winning opportunities and the game finished in a draw after 70 moves.
As Bela Khotenashvili pointed out during the press-conference, she knew that draw in the game would give her the last GM norm and tried to play safely. Black didn’t face any problem in the opening and the position was about equal after 20 moves of play. However, Olga Girya played inaccurate 26.Qd4 and lost a pawn while 26. Rf4 would lead to the position with equal material and chances. Since that moment White was suffering and tried to find drawish chances in the endgame. Bela Khotenashvili missed few chances to win and after 74 moves the endgame Night against Rook appeared on the board. After 5 and half hours of play both opponents were really tired and didn’t play precisely. Olga Girya made a mistake on the 108th move and lost the game.
Nana Dzagnidze got comfortable position with Black and created isolated pawn in White’s camp. Anna Ushenina didn’t manage to get any initiative on the King’s side because Anna Dzagnidze accurately changed the pieces and transferred the game into the endgame with slightly better chances for Black. The last opportunity to play for win was to exchange the rooks 28…Rc2 29. Bc2 f6 30.Ng6 Bf3 but both players agreed that with accurate play White should be OK. The game finished in a draw after three-time repetition.
Ju Wenjun chose to play Catalan and knew the theory quite well. Ju Wenjun remembered the games continued with14…Rb8, so 14…h6 was quite new for her. Despite the fact that White had an extra pawn, Black managed to get enough counter play. All heavy pieces left the board and players signed the peace after 40 moves of play.