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R10: Inna Gaponenko Clear First, Sebag and Kashlinskaya At a Half Point Distance
WhatsApp Image 2019-04-21 at 15.56.50
One can perhaps argue that the round before the last is perhaps even more important than the final one! It sets the tone of the final round as the tournament situation greatly affects the players’ attitude to the game. We’ll see how much of this will hold true after tomorrow’s final round.

Today we’ve seen a very quick 9-moves draw on top board to the disappointment of spectators. Both Gaponenko and Sebag probably considered that there is much more to lose than to gain so they decided not to risk anything. With this quick draw Gaponenko moved to 8 points and thus has guaranteed to enter the final round as clear first whereas Sebag increased her score to 7,5 and also made sure of a shared second place going into final round.

The quick draw on top board gave a chance to players with 6,5 points to catch up with Sebag and to cut the gap with the leader to half points only. Something which only Alina Kashlinskaya managed to do so! She has played a theoretical Grünfeld endgame better than her opponnent, still there was hardly any reason for Bodnaruk to sacrifice a pawn for some psuedo-activity. A fine comeback after yesterday’s loss, well done!

One of the most interesting games of the round was Tsolakidou – Paehtz. The German star just used the opportunity that Tsolakidou moved her knight from d2 to b3 away from kingside:

Tsolakidou - Paehtz


18... Bxh3! [Not too difficult and with Nc5 coming kind of necessary but still deserves an exclamation mark, especially that Paehtz must have been planning it from before] 19.gxh3 Qxh3 20.Nh2 d4! [20...Ng4 21.Nxg4 Qxg4+ would have been an immediate draw. Paehtz tests her opponent.]
21.Bd2 Ng4 22.Nxg4 Qxg4+ 23.Kf1 Qh3+ 24.Ke2 Qg4+ 25.Kf1 f5!  [Another try.] 26.Qd1! [Tsolakidou rises to the occasion and defends in perfect fashion!] 26…Qh3+ 27.Kg1 f4 28.f3! [The only move. Now Black has nothing better than perpetual.] 28…Qg3+ 29.Kh1 dxc3 30.Bxc3 Qh3+ 31.Kg1 Qg3+ 32.Kh1 Qh3+
A finely played sequence by both players! They are both at 7 points together with Atalik, Ushenina, Socko, Guichard, Dzagnidze, Zawadzka, Cramling and Stefanova; with the latter four winning their games this round to raise their score to 7/10.
The 11th  and final round will start tomorrow (April 22 Monday) at 11:00 local time. We will see Stefanova-Gaponenko on first board, for sure one of the most important games in Gaponenko’s career. Cramling-Kashlinskaya and Sebag – Dzagnidze also have the potential to determine the champion! Of course other boards are also important, players with 7 and perhaps some with 6,5 points still have a chance!
Don’t forget to follow the live broadcast for a last time with excellent commentary of GM Ioannis Papaioannou & IM Can Arduman and maybe Ivan Sokolov & Eva Repkova or as usual, any combination of those.

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