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Humpy Koneru shares the lead with Mariya Muzychuk
(Photo: Europe Echecs)

The third round was again a very fought one. Only two games ended in a draw, while the other four had a decision. The leader, Mariya Muzychuk, played with ambition but never had real chances to defeat Sarasadat Khademalsharieh. The young Iranian keeps playing solid chess and despite being the underdog remains undefeated. The same result exactly has got so far the European champion Natalia Zhukova, who drew with elder Muzychuk sister, in a quiet game. The other four boards presented the public with some attractive chess. Koneru was the first to win, in a fine game against Skripchenko. With this result Humpy ties for first with Mariya, with 2,5 out of 3. Trailing half point behind we find two very strong players: Yifan Hou and Pia Cramling. Both won today, but in a very different way. The Swedish played a good game, taking advantage of Stefanova’s ultra-risky opening strategy. The Chinese, with black against Pogonina, took a lot of risk, playing for a long time with the King on the centre. The other Russian player in the tournament, Kosteniuk, had more luck, defeating Dzagnidze in a very tactical game. 

DSC02072  Koneru- Skripchenko     1 – 0

According to Almira she prepared at home some lines of the Queen’s Indian Defense. But during the game she played a wrong move, 14…Na5, instead of the correct 14…e4 15.bxc6 dxc6 16. Qd4 c5 17.Qd2 exf3 18.exf3 with equality. Koneru captured an exchange and brought the game to victory with a series of precise moves.
Zhukova - Anna Muzychuk     0,5-0,5

The duel between two Ukrainians was very quiet, without big mistakes. Very soon the queens were changed and the players came to an endgame with better activity for White. Anna neutralized the initiative with accurate play and they signed the peace after 35 moves. In the final position, after 36.Bxb5 Rxb5 37.Rg3 white would take the g pawn which a total draw.   
DSC02080  Cramling - Stefanova 1 – 0

In a kind of Slav Defense, Pia chose a sharp line, 12.d5, and Antoaneta played too risky. During the press conference both players considered 12…exd5 as a better option (instead of 12…Qb6).  After 15…gxf6 black King was weak for the rest of the game. Finally, the Bulgarian committed a big mistake with 23…Rf4, missing 25.Ra8! which gave White a decisive attack. Cramling could mate faster, but instead won an exchange and forced resignation in 42 moves.
Mariya Muzychuk - Khademalsharieh    0,5-0,5

From the very beginning it looked like Mariya was pressing, she took more space in the opening. But after a couple of inaccurate moves by White, Sarasadat found the correct way for freeing her game (18…f6 and 25…e5) and Mariya admitted that she started to be very much worried about her position. But the Iranian played 26…e4? and Mariya was again slightly better, but finally the game finished with a correct draw in 47 moves.
DSC02084  Kosteniuk – Dzagnidze     1 – 0

Both ladies were very creative. As became clear at the press conference, the players evaluated the position after 17.Qh4 quite differently: either one was thinking she is better. Nana sacrificed the exchange with 20.Rf6, probably too optimistic, but later obtained strong counterplay. The overoptimistic 29...Qxa2? (Instead of 29…Bd4+ 30.Nd4 Qe3+) gave advantage to Alexandra who lastly won the endgame with exchange up.
Pogonina - Hou     0 – 1

The Chinese GM showed a very high level of resistance in this tough game. Natalia was better after the opening, but Yifan equalized the game step by step. The resulting major pieces endgame looked equal but Hou found some hidden resources and pressed Natalia who committed some mistakes. The game finished in a hopeless queen’s endgame for White, two pawns down. Yifan Hou won in 82 moves.

Standings after round 3

1 Koneru Humpy 2½
2 Muzychuk Mariya 2½
3 Hou Yifan 2
4 Cramling Pia 2
5 Pogonina Natalija 1½
6 Kosteniuk Alexandra 1½
7 Khademalsharieh Sarasadat 1½
8 Zhukova Natalia 1½
9 Stefanova Antoaneta 1
10 Muzychuk Anna 1
11 Skripchenko Almira ½
    Dzagnidze Nana ½
© FIDE Grand Prix 2015    |    |