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Hou Yifan is the only leader after round 8
Mr. Bachar Kouatly, director of chess magazine “Europe Echecs”,
making the first move in the game between Mariya Muzychuk and Humpy Koneru.

The round eight was very important for the leaders: two of them played each other, Mariya Muzychuk versus Koneru. From the very first move Mariya took the initiative, Koneru blundered in the endgame and lost. Kosteniuk-Cramling and Zhukova-Pogonina finished in a draw by threefold repetition.  Khademalsharieh and Hou played a very long game, and the more experienced Chinese won in a very complicated fight.  Dzagnidze played in her usual aggressive style and won her first game after Almira made two mistakes in a raw. The battle between Anna Muzychuk and Stefanova finished in a long draw, being the last game of this round.

Cramling-Kosteniuk  Alexandra Kosteniuk – Pia Cramling 0,5–0,5

Alexandra: “Pia surprised me with this opening variation, but I think I played at least interesting” (Pia chose original 10…f5 in the Taimanov Variation of Sicilian Defence). Soon the position became very sharp, with opposite side castles. It was difficult to evaluate who was better and the game finished with a draw in 35 moves by threefold repetition.
 Natalia Zhukova – Natalija Pogonina 0,5–0,5

As the ladies admitted at the press conference they started to play by themselves without knowing the theory just after move 4. That’s why Pogonina went for the solid 4…Be7 (instead of the more aggressive 4…Bb4). Curiously, it was interesting later to play anyway 7…Bb4 (7…Re8 was played). The endgame was a little bit better for White thanks to the pawn advantage on the Kingside, but it was not enough to win the game. Draw in 32 moves by threefold repetition.
Muzychuk,M-Koneru  Mariya Muzychuk - Humpy Koneru 1–0

Mariya: “Normally I play this line with black and what happened in the game it’s better for white”. Humpy: “I blundered 29…Bh3? because I did not see that it’s mate in the end of the variation 30.Rd5 Kf8 31.Nd4 (31.Nd2? Be6=) Rb1+32.Kh2 Be6 33.Rd8 Ke7 34.Nc6 mate”. The only move was 29…Rb6 and White is better but still there is a lot of fight. Finally 1-0 in 55 moves.
Sarasadat Khademalsharieh – Yifan Hou 0–1

It was a very long, interesting and complicated game. Yifan chose 5…Bxc3 to get a not standard position. Sarasadat reacted well and very soon sacrificed a pawn for good compensation. For some moment White was much better, but the position was too complex and finally Yifan found 28…Ne4! and managed to consolidate a slight advantage. After changing the queens she won a tough endgame with pawn up in 56 moves.
Dzagnidze (2)  Nana Dzagnidze – Almira Skripchenko 1–0

The game started with a very quiet opening, but soon Nana played an interesting piece sacrifice for two central pawns. The position looked dangerous for Black but Almira showed a lot of defensive recourses. But finally she made two mistakes 33...Kg8? (instead of correct 33...Rae8) and later 34...Rae8? (instead of 34...Ne5). Nana got the piece back and kept an extra pawn. White won in 50 moves.
Anna Muzychuk – Antoaneta Stefanova     0,5–0,5

The exchange variation of the Slav defense has a reputation to be a very quiet drawish line. But Antoaneta found the way to make the game spectacular with 4…e5. A lot of tactical possibilities appeared on the board and it was not easy for the players to understand who is better and why. Later, Antoaneta enjoyed some initiative but Anna defended well and the draw in 53 moves looks like a reasonable result.
Stefanova-Muzychuk, A
Standings after round 8

1 Hou Yifan 6½
2 Muzychuk Mariya 6
3 Koneru Humpy 5½
4 Cramling Pia 4½
5 Pogonina Natalija 4½
6 Kosteniuk Alexandra 4½
7 Stefanova Antoaneta 4
8 Zhukova Natalia 3½
9 Muzychuk Anna 3
10 Skripchenko Almira 2½
11 Dzagnidze Nana 2
12 Khademalsharieh Sarasadat 1½
© FIDE Grand Prix 2015    |    |