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Vladimir BELOV, grandmaster. The Round Two Review
September 4, 2008

After studying the games of the Round Two one can get the feeling that the second day was somewhat thematic. It seems the girls were too nervous and that is why most of the encounters were decided in the endgame. The majority of them was left to the endings with opposite colored bishops, which are known for their drawing tendencies.

Xu Yuhua who entered one of those positions paid for this decision with a half a point and elimination. Now one can officially name her ex-world champion... Using a chance I would like to congratulate Svetlana Matveeva who managed to take revenge over the Chinese after the semi-final of the previous Championship in Yekaterinburg.   

XU YUHUA - Svetlana MATVEEVA

54.Qc7+?? That is not champion's business to capture pawns, especially with check. It is too simple. Far better is to calculate the endgame. The elementary 54.Qxa5+ Kb7 55.Qd8 leads to White's victory and tie-breaks, while now it is a draw.

54...Qxc7 55.Bxc7 Kb7! A cold shower.  Black needs no pawn anymore; Svetlana's aim is to reach the square e6, creating a fortress. The hopes of the Chinese grandmaster could come true in case of 55...a4? 56.Bd6 Kb6 57.Kf4 Kc6 58.Ke5 Kd7 59.Ba3, etc.

 

56.Bxa5 (56.Bd6 doesn't help due to 56. ... Kc6 57.Ba3 Kd7 58.Kf4 Ke6 with a draw) 56...Kc6 57.Bb4 Kd7 58.Bc5 Ke6 (that's it: mission is complete, the game is drawn) 59.Kd2 Kd7 60.Ke1 Ke6 61.Kd1 Kd7 62.Kd2 Bh7 63.Kc1 Kc6 64.Kd2 Kd7 65.Ke3 Ke6. Draw.

The weaker side was also making mistakes today. The situation in the match forced Katerina Rohonyan to play for a win, but her bishop plus king maneuvers did not make her fortune. In order not to leave Nalchik too quickly, the player from the States managed to find an interesting practical chance, which brought her the victory.   

 

Katerina ROHONYAN - Inna GAPONENKO

 

48.Bxf5!? Kxf5 49.g4+ Ke6 (49...Kf6 was also possible) 50.Ke4 Bc5 51.g5 Kf7. 51...d3 leads to a draw, too, but in this case Black would have to find a few only moves: 52.f5+ Kf7 53.Kxd3 Ba3! 54.h6 (54.Ke4 Bc1=) 54...Bc1 55.h7 Kg7 56.g6 Bb2 57.Kc4 Bf6 58.Kd5 Bb2 59.Ke6 Kh8! - and a stalemate is saving the game: 60.f6 Bxf6 61.Kxf6.

52.f5

52...Kg7?? Such moments cause nightmares afterwards. Having million ways to a draw, Black chooses the only losing move. The most accurate continuation begins with 52...Be7, and then 53.f6 (53.g6+ Kg7 54.Kxd4 Bf6+=) 53...Ba3 54.Kf5 Bc1 55.g6+ (55.h6? Kg8! 56.Kg6 d3) 55...Kf8 56.Ke4 Bg5 57.f7 Be3.

53.f6+ Kf7 54.Kf5! (Black's own pawn hampers the bishop to be placed on the crucial 1-h6 diagonal) 54...d3 55.g6+ Kg8 56.g7 Bd4 57.h6. Black resigns. Rohonyan makes it to the tie-breaks. Her former compatriots do not seem to have easy times with her (in the first round she eliminated Natalia Zhukova).

Young Polish player Anna Gasik found herself in the second round - her first opponent Marie Sebag did not arrive. Then she had to face Lilit Mkrtchian. Gasik managed to keep a draw with White, but failed to last long with Black due to repeating a well-known opening mistake. 

Reti Opening A11
Lilit MKRTCHIAN - Anna GASIK

1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 c6 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.b3 Bd6 6.Bb2 0-0 7.Be2 Nbd7 8.Qc2 Re8 9.0-0 e5 10.cxd5.

10...cxd5? One can even put two question marks. Black's position becomes very bad. Anna had to play 10...Nxd5. The punishment is immediate.

11.Nb5 Bb8 12.Rfc1 b6? Pure panic. Now Black loses material. The player from Poland should have tried to hold with 12...d4, after which 13.Ng5!? looks interesting in connection with the following trick: 13...h6 (13...Nb6 is better ) 14.Nxf7! Kxf7 15.Bc4+ Kf8 16.Ba3+ Re7 17.Be6!

 

A very spectacular finale!

13.Qc6 Nc5 14.Rxc5! bxc5 15.Qxa8 Qb6 16.Bxe5 Bb7 17.Qxb8 Rxb8 18.Bxb8. This is also good for White, although 18.Bc7! looks more energetic, finishing the game immediately.

18...Ba6 19.Bxa7 Qa5 20.Bxc5 Bxb5 21.b4 Qa6 22.Bxb5 Qxb5 23.a4 (the pawns are unstoppable) 23...Qe2 24.a5 Ne8 25.Bb6 Qa6 26.Nd4 Nd6 27.b5 Nxb5 28.Nxb5 Qxb5 29.a6 Qb2 30.Bd4. Black resigns.

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