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A Round of Missed Chances, Draws and Tough Struggles
IMG 5240If one is deceived by ratings and watch only men chess he/she is missing definitely a lot! Today’s round in Antalya was definitely a chess feast where you could find everything: theoretical discussions, fierce attacking games as well as fine examples of resourceful defence, tactics, positional play, mistakes…In short, everything that makes chess beautiful and humane!

On first board we witnessed a high class struggle between Nana Dzagnidze and Sabrina Vega Gutierrez! As it happened in Caruana – Carlsen games from London too, the game saw Black taking over the initiative in a Rossolimo Sicilian. Dzagnidze however played a very resilient game and perhaps for one or two instances the game was always within the drawing margin; at least for a human eye it wasn’t obvious how black could win. Both players deserve highest praise for their titanic struggle!

It was all draws well until the fifth board but as Tolstoy would say all draws had different stories.  Second board we saw one of the few short draws -if not the only one- of the championship between Badelka and Khotenashvili, third board saw Majdan agreeing to a draw in time trouble what seemed like a much better if not winning finale against Kashlinskaya. Finally on fourth board Matnadze and Stefanova played a good game with little shifts in balance here and there but revolving always around equality.

On fifth board Evgenija Ovod played a flawless combination against Marie Sebag:

Ovod – Sebag

22.Nexf7! [A well-calculated move which effectively wins the game!]

22...Rxf7 23.Rxe6 Qd8 24.Qg6! [Blocking the g-pawn before taking on f6 is crucial]

[24.Rxf6? gxf6]

24...Raa7 25.Rxf6 Qxf6 26.Qh7+ Kf8 27.Re1 g6 28.Qh6+ Kg8 29.Re8+ Rf8 30.Rxf8+ Qxf8 31.Qxg6+ Rg7 32.Qxb6 [After a series of forced moves White has emerged with three pawns for exchange which is likely to increase due to weak black pawns, a weak black king and a dominating knight. More than enough for a win!]
32...bxc3 33.bxc3 Qe8 34.Qxa5 Rd7 35.Qb6 Re7 36.Kg2 Qd7 37.Qg6+ Rg7 38.Qxh5 Qc6 39.f5 Ra7 40.Ne6 Qc8 41.Qg6+ Kh8 42.Ng5 1–0

The turning point of Shuvalova-Arakhamia Grant was also interesting:
Shuvalova-Arakhamia Grant


33.Rf3? [33.Rd8+ Kh7 34.Ba6 Now Bd3 is unavoidable]

33...Qg5 34.Re3 [34.Rc3 was much safer]

34...Nd5 35.Bxd5?! Bxd5 [Now White needs to be careful as the weakness of white squares around the king are a sign of danger. When it rains it pours and after further mistakes Shuvalova loses the game.]

36.Qd1 Qf5 37.Nd3 Ra2 38.Nf4 Bc6 39.Qc1 Rc2 40.Qb1 g5! 41.Rd3 [41.Nd3 Rxf2]

41...Rd2 42.f3 Bd7 43.Qb3 Be6 44.Qc3 Rxd3 45.Nxd3 Qxf3 46.Qc2 Bh3



Finally an example of resourcefulness of women players. Try to find the only move to save the game like Tsolakidou!

Tsolakidou – Worek
31.g6!! [The only move ensuring perpetual check! Good find by Tsolakidou in a seemingly hopeless position.]

31…hxg6 32.Qh4
[32.Qd7+ Rf7 33.Rh7+ Kxh7 34.Qxf7+ Kh8 35.Qf6+ Kg8 36.Qe6+ was another way for the game to end in draw but since after the move in the game Black also needs to be careful Tsolakidou’s choice is practically better.]
32...Qf1+ 33.Kc2 Rxb2+ 34.Kxb2 Rb8+ 35.Kc3 Qa1+ 36.Kd3 Qf1+ 37.Kc3 Qa1+ 38.Kd3 Qf1+

A surprising result was again from Goryachkina. The top seed has definitely made a slow start. Today she failed to convert a very promising position against Marina Gajcin and thus could only reach 1 point by the end of the round.

The third round will start tomorrow (April 13 Saturday) at 15:00 local time. We will see an all-Ukrainian duel on the top board between Ushenina and Osmak. In the pairings of other players with full points we see Houska-Mkrtchian, Salimova-Ovod and Arakhamia Grant- Danielian.
Don’t forget to follow the live broadcast with excellent commentary of GM Ioannis Papaioannou & IM Can Arduman and perhaps some top-class guests like Ivan Sokolov and Eva Repkova will join like today!

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