In a Cambridge Springs Queen's Gambit, Natalia Zhukova slowly took over the initiative, reaching a superior endgame. Sara plentifully proved that her previous achievements were not casual by displaying great defensive skills and will power, but all her fantastic efforts came to nothing when she resigned in a drawn position according to the tablebases...
This type of endgame is known from an old game Rubinstein-Tartakower Vienna 1922 (with reversed colours) with the difference that Sara's bishop was not on the optimal b1-h7 diagonal. But even so, Black could have made no progress(!) against the most accurate defense:
75. Kf2! Should have been played (since the key square is e3 and the white king has to keep his enemy at a respectful distance...you know what they say: keep your friends close and your enemies closer). Of course Black can still try with 75... Rh2+ where the reply has to be prompt: 76. Bg2 (76. Kf3 loses in view of 76... Rb2 and at some point check on the 3rd rank, followed by the king's march into White's territories via e3, all caused by the poor placement of White's bishop – I kindly advise playing through this endgame with tablebases!).
In case the black rook would choose a different plan, in an attempt to confuse matters with, for instance 75... Rb3, the square to which White should retreat the bishop becomes of vital importance: g2 and h1 have written on them "bingo" while all the others would 'secure' White a zero on the scoreboard. The point is the same e3 square, which can be guarded from either f2 or f3, therefore the white king must be able to juggle between those two. If White's bishop would be on b7 or c6 instead, with some clever rook and king moves, Black will eventually succeed to first chase away the minor piece and then pave the way via e3 towards the f4 pawn.
This somewhat tragic end can be explained by the fact that, tired after 6 hours of play, both players thought the endgame was won for Black.Encouraged and supported throughout the entire event
Happy-end for Sara, in spite of the last round loss......at least until the moment she realised her resignation was premature.
I remember Gelfand once told me that he doesn't understand people when they speak about the additional pressure when one is in the lead of the tournament. He never feels 'any' stress, on the contrary, it is great having more points than the others. But for Sara things must have been different, the perspective of winning the tournament probably was much higher than her wildest expectations before the first round...Ju Wenjun – Harika Dronavalli 1/2-1/2This final draw ensured the Chinese player the win in the tournament
and also the title of being the only one undefeated!
Harika deviated from her beloved King's Indian, preferring a provocative version of the Queen's Gambit declined.
Wenjun chose the practical approach for the last round: to play in the slow mode, keeping a pleasant position all over the game with no risk at all. Both players agreed that Black's position had been difficult all the way, but eventually the drawish tendency yielded by the opposite-coloured bishops prevailed.Ju Wenjun's solid last round strategy paid off after Sara stumbled against Natalia Zhukova.Natalija Pogonina – Nana Dzagnidze 1-0
Pogonina-Dzagnidze was a game between players who shared a similar tournament fate, as both were in the lead for a determined period and had a less fortunate final part of the event.Moreover, Natalija's win against Nana leveled their score regarding the number of consecutive losses: 3.
Just as yesterday, Nana couldn't explain how she could ruin the game in just one move:17...Bxc6
, concealing the d5-square. 17...bxc6 would have led to a normal Bogo-Indian structure, but this opening brought her bad luck as she lost in it with both colours.When the tournament gave Nana a hundred reasons to cry,
she showed that she has a thousand reasons to smile! Valentina Gunina – Zhao Xue 1/2-1/2The bronze medal goes to Zhao Xue
Zhao Xue must have been content with her position in the 5...b5
fianchetto Queen's Indian line from the earlier game against Nana Dzagnidze, as she repeated the system against Valentina again. But this time her opponent reacted better, obtaining an advantage and there was even a moment when White could have started throwing projectiles in Black's camp:
16.exd5 cxd5 17.Nxd5 exd5 18.Bxd5 with the double threat Bxa8 and e5-e6.Less aggressive, for a change
Valentina saw this surprising resource and thought tactics should work out well for her, but contrary to her approach from the previous games, decided that the last round requested a more calm treatment. After her solid16.Qd4
the game entered a better ending for White, eventually petering out into a draw. None of the players was happy with her own play, but they agreed that the draw was a fair enough result. Humpy Koneru – Antoaneta Stefanova 1-0Sixth place and 4500 Euro prize but some rating loss too
Ending up the tournament with a win always brings a bit of blessing, irrespective of how bad things went all the way. Humpy stepped on +1 after breaking Antoaneta's 4...a6
Slav, a game which was crowned tactically with:24. Bxf6 Bxf6 25.Bxf7 Kxf7 26.Rxd7 Kf8 27.Qc4
. Despite being known as always inventive and resourceful, the Bulgarian couldn't avoid the defeat. Pia Cramling – Nino Batsiashvili 0-1
In Pia – Nino, White obtained an advantage in a Catalan/Chigorin hybrid, punishing Black's ambitious and creative plan of castling long. But somewhere in the middle of the game and then towards the ending, Pia lost the thread allowing Black to improve her position bit by bit.Nino scored in the final round
At some point the Georgian seemed to be close to winning but the final part of the endgame must be drawn, even though highly interesting and instructive. At least this was the conclusion of both players but if you wish analyzing a bit deeper... be my guest!Move 64 - chosen on purpose:) - White to play: fortress or not?
After several missed chances for half a point, even in the very end, White achieved quite a curious fortress... not sure about the outcome in the over the board play but I get the feeling you will have some fun figuring that out!
That was it from Tehran. We close one chapter just to open another one in the never ending chess book...The podium ruled by ChinaThe environmental symbol of Iranian Chess Federation - the pelicanMore awards and presents - a great place to be as the Iranians are friendly and generous!
The finish line of the Tehran FIDE Women Grand Prix is in fact a new start as most of the players are flying directly to China for the next tournament, IMSA Elite Mind Games. The happiest of them must be Ju Wenjun, as she returns to her homeland with the gold medal, while other players may look into the near future with the desire to take their sportive revenge.In fact, the winner doesn't take it all - that's the spirit!
I cannot end without thanking you all for following us, expressing my gratitude to the organizers, sponsors and the wonderful team who all made this event possible. And of course: good luck, my dearest friends and players for the next quest in China & Bundesliga!THE ENDBy the Press Officer Alina l'AmiRound 11 photo galleryClosing ceremony photo gallery