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Change of Decor
September 2, 2008

Surprisingly, the Championship participants have done only one step towards the Chess crown but how greatly the character of the struggle has changed. If the question of the first round was whether the favorites would lose at least half a point, now, in the second round there was the most pertinacious struggle on almost every board. There are no clearly weak chess players left. Under certain circumstances almost every player can advance rather far along the fixture list. Now every move is decisive.

But favorites are called favorites because they can prove their superiority. Elo-favorite of the Championship Hampy Koneru from India and former World Champion Alexandra Kostenuk didn't have to appear in the playing hall - their opponents didn't show up. Following them, the four other chess players Hou Yifan  from China, Tatiana Kosintseva from Russia, two Ukrainian players: Inna Gaponenko and Anna Ushenina,   have virtually qualified into the 1/8 final. They won their games confidently,  Hou and Anya playing with Black.      

An experienced player Svetlana Matveeva and a young Shen Yang from China finished the day with a remarkable success. Their victories over Xu Yuhua and Zhao Xue accordingly can be considered the most significant surprise of the games. Notwithstanding the fact the acting World Champion has recently returned to chess activity after giving birth to a child her loss is always a great event.  Matveeva had to use all her skills and resourcefulness to win: Sveta had a quite poor opening position but she did not give up and imposed her will on Xu and gradually won against the Chinese player. Their game on the first board was the last to finish in the round. 

Shen Yang was not a less important surprise -maker. Just a few years ago her opponent was probably one of the most promising Chinese chess players totally winning all women's tournaments, rapidly scoring the rating and becoming more and more ambitions. But due to the appearance of computer-minded Hou Yifan and also Zhao' breadth of interests she lost her leading positions. She seemed to try to prove that it was too early not to consider her but she demonstrated neither her usual purposefulness nor firmness against her young compatriot and at the end of the game she simply missed the figure in a difficult position. It is open to question now whether she will be able to play back. 

The majority of the first games of the second round finished with draw but to say that some of the players missed their chance to win is not quite correct. Perhaps only Monica Socko (she had got into the centre of heat Arbiters' disputes the day before and knew that she had advanced into the next round at 12 p.m.) attacked too vehemently her opponent Hoang Thanh Trang. At some moment Monika seemed to go too far and was on the point of loosing the game but her opponent was too cautious and failed to use her chance. 

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Round 2, game 1
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