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Gaponenko Beats Kashlinskaya To Stay Alone At The Top!
WhatsApp Image 2019-04-20 at 16.26.36
The ninth round was a big step ahead for Inna Gaponenko on the way to the title! The Ukrainian beat Alina Kashlinskaya who had been leading the whole way so far thanks to Russian’s inaccuracies in an endgame that should have ended in a draw.

Gaponenko – Kashlinskaya
25...f6?! [A dubious move. Since e-pawn is doomed it was better to get rid of it immediately for exchanging bishops and activating the black rook by putting it on second rank with the following sequence 25...e3! 26.Bxe3 Bxe3 27.Rxe3 f5! 28.gxf5 Rd1+ 29.Kh2 Rd2 and the activity of black rook should be enough for a draw]
26.Kf1 g5?! [26...e3 was still the better choice. Now the endgame must be winning for white]
27.Bc1 Re8 28.f3 e3 29.Ke2 Kf7 30.Rd1 Kg6 [Kashlinskaya wants to complicate but 30...Re7 31.Rd3 Kg6 32.Bxe3 h5 was objectively more resilient.]
31.Rd7 h5 32.gxh5+ Kxh5 33.Rh7+ Kg6 34.Rxb7 [A totally winning position now.] 34…Re6 35.g4 f5 36.gxf5+ Kxf5 37.b4? [37.a4 was much better, not leaving c3 weak, as the move in the game presents an unexpected chance to Kashlinskaya to save the game.]
37...Rc6! 38.a4 Kf4?? [A horrible blunder which might have just cost Kashlinskaya a title! 38...Rxc3 seems to be a draw. For example: 39.Rxb6 Rxc1 40.Kxe3 Rc3+ 41.Ke2 Rc4 (41...Rb3? 42.b5!) 42.a5 Ke5 and eventually white will end up with an extra a-pawn with black rook behind so it must be a draw.]
Overall a very well played game by Gaponenko with one mistake only. She is now alone at the top with 7,5 points and has a considerable advantage in the competition for the title! Let’s see if she can hold on to her chance to become European champion!

Gaponenko is followed by Marie Sebag who beat Khotenashvili in a queen endgame after 83 moves. It was a complicated struggle with many twists and turns but when the dust was settled Sebag had a winning endgame on the board. Thus the Frenchwoman now moved again to clear second place and again she will play against the leader, only this time that leader is Gaponenko.

On third board Ushenina – Tsolakidou was a game which was always equal and finally players agreed to a draw on 35th move. With this result both players have now 6,5 points.

Then there were the games of players with 5,5 points. Elisabeth Paehtz won a fine game against Zawadzka, punishing her opponents reckless play by playing a textbook example of the attack against the king in the center. IM Ekaterina Atalik of Turkey won from the black side of a Giuoco Pianissimo against Salimova. Monika Socko have played a good game against the tournament sensation Sıla Çağlar and achieved an unexpectedly easy win. Pauline Guichard have played an exemplary game against hanging pawns of Bulmaga on c5-d5 with only few mistakes creeping in and like her compatriot she scored a win when it matters. The French women are going strong in this championship! Finally Anastasia Bodnaruk played with patience and precision once Danielian -quite wrongly- decided to close the position and achieved a nice win. All of the winners moved to 6,5 points and joined Ushenina, Tsolakidou and Kashlinskaya. The only game that was drawn was between Pogonina and Guseva in which Marina Guseva suffered for some time but Natalia Pogonina has never managed to make her slight advantage grow into something tangible.
The 10th round will start tomorrow (April 21 Sunday) at 15:00 local time. We will see Gaponenko - Sebag on first board. The other pairings which might prove to be crucial in determining the champion are Kashlinskaya- Bodnaruk, Tsolakidou – Paehtz, Atalik – Ushenina and Socko - Guichard.
Don’t forget to follow the live broadcast with excellent commentary of GM Ioannis Papaioannou & IM Can Arduman and Ivan Sokolov & Eva Repkova or as usual, any combination of those.


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