Kosteniuk misses victory but preserves lead with draw
September 15, 2008

After the Round 5 day 1 game, Alexandra Kosteniuk was again facing the French defense chosen by Hou Yifan. However, this time she settled for the Tarrasch with Nd2 and the game developed with the regular moves (3...c5 4 Ngf3 cd 5 ed Qd5).

The position for Black became equal after the 10th move and we were looking at a balanced situation forecasting a possible draw for many moves. At move twenty seven, Hou played again a somewhat adventurous h5, giving slightly better chances to White. Kosteniuk immediately grabbed the opportunity and gradually increased pressure on Black. Although White had a backward, undefended pawn on h2, Hou did not attack it but has chosen the occupation of the open d-file with the Rook. Kosteniuk defended very precisely and gained new opportunity for an attack with 36 c4 (see position below).

The young Chinese player could not find the best continuation (although even in that case, her position was worse) and went for an exchange of the Queens which just increased White`s advantage (36...Qd6 37 Qd6 Rd6 38 cb Ne2 39 bc (here Kosteniuk missed the best move of Nf5) Nd4 40 Rf1 Kc7 41 Nf5...and so on. White had both material and positional advantage but Hou managed the Rook endgame in a very accurate manner and the game ended in draw at 57th move despite the fact that White was three pawns up.

Peter Rajcsanyi
Press Director