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It is high time to display all the power!
September 5, 2008

Shagreen leather of the Championship is gradually shrinking. A week ago there were so many chess players that they had to sidle to their tables. Now the playing hall is unusually empty - there are only eight pairs left. There are, of course, surprises, but undoubtedly only the strongest chess players are qualified for the next rounds.

No wonder that now when the form and force of the participants can be seen with the naked eye, the favorites of the Championship displayed all their power as if making a statement for a victory.

Four players: Hoy Yifan, Antoaneta Stefanova, Pia Cramling, and Anna Ushenina have made a stride toward the quarterfinal without having left any chances to their opponents. Some of them looked doomed even before the beginning of the matches.

Elena Sedina's advancement to the 3rd round was rather a success for her. But her position was shattered at the very first encounter with  Hou when the Italian lost a piece on the 28th move. Inna Gaponenko who had got a rook as a present the day before failed the opening and congratulated Stefanova on her victory after the 26th move. Ruan Lufei's resistance was a long one but it became hopeless at a certain moment: Cramling was tracking her victorious way with an iron hand. Nothing could prevent her from thinking clearly and precisely. Svetlana Matveeva's poor position after the opening didn't allow her to improve the situation.

Hoang Thanh Trang's attempts to seize the initiative were really weak. It is more likely that Humpy was fighting for advantage. Playing with white she is sure to manage it. Shen Yang didn't have any opening trumps in store either. Nadya Kosintseva easily made a draw and has good prospects for the future. Lilit Mkrtchian from Armenia is also high-spirited. Though she mixed the colors in the game against Harika she managed to draw playing with black. Tomorrow she will sure to play with white.

The biggest controversy of the day if not of the whole round - Kosteniuk vs Kosintseva - ended a draw. For many years two Russians have been challenging each other for the first board of the Russian Olympic team. Notwithstanding the fact that Tatiana won several Russia Championships, Alexandra holds the palm of supremacy. And now this is their first immediate opposition. Only one of them will advance to the next round of the Championship. It was Kosteniuk who played with white in the first game...

After the opening Kosteniuk sacrificed a piece and thought that the defense zone of the black were on the edge of collapse. But Alexandra lingered and Tatiana managed to exchange the queens and avoided an upset. Kosintseva's position was still tough, especially after she had missed the attack in the center and was left with a helpless bishop against a whole battalion of connected passed pawns. But the very moment Kosteniuk's victory seemed inevitable Sasha made an unaccountable mistake: white pawns lost their well-shaped line and were captured one after another. The result of the game is a draw. Which one is stronger will be decided tomorrow or even the day after tomorrow.

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Round 3, game 1
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