2019 Cairns Cup – Round 4
Similar to the opening round, round four saw four decisive results, with most of the victories coming with Black. Kosteniuk extended her lead by defeating GM Marie Sebag, but Gunina and Krush also won, so her lead is only by half a point. It was a dramatic day, with lots of pressure and more blunders than normal, but there was also lots of strong play. Let’s see the results and how the games went done.
GM Marie Sebag - GM Alexandra Kosteniuk 0-1
The French GM played a somewhat unusual Bd2 move in the opening, and while it looked like she was under tremendous pressure right away, she seemed to come out pretty much unscathed. Just as it seemed like the worst had passed, however, Marie gave up her dark squared bishop and was clearly under pressure once again. Sebag defended quite well, however, and managed to force the queens off. The resulting ending saw Black have an extra pawn, but White’s light square blockade was not so easy to crack. It looked like Marie might have defensive chances for awhile, but later blundered with 47. Re7 and had to resign after Rd1+ winning immediately. A sad end to the game, but White was under tremendous pressure all game and it is difficult to continue making strong moves in such a situation. Nevertheless, another nice win for Kosteniuk, who extends her lead by moving up to 3.5/4.
GM Irina Krush - IM Anna Zatonskih 1-0
Anna admitted in her confession that she avoided the line that her husband, GM Daniel Fridman, had helped her prepare for the game. This decision looked to be an unfortunate one, as her opening position was highly suspect. Irina missed a couple great opportunities, and Anna reached a position that was about equal. Zatonskih was in severe time pressure, however, and while she conducted herself super well for a long time, she blundered with 39… Ne4. Krush was unforgiving, and after the strong reply of 40. Qg6+ and 41. Ne6 Black’s position simply fell apart. Irina’s technical task was made more difficult by not playing h6 on the 43rd move, and Anna recovered well and continued to play stubborn defense after the time control. Despite her resistance, the ending proved impossible to save, and Irina reeled in the point confidently. This win puts Krush to join 2nd place with three points out of four, while Zatonskih is back to -1.
The all-American battle didn’t disappoint, and after a long game Irina overcame Anna
GM Nana Dzagnidze - GM Valentina Gunina 0-1
An unusual Caro-Kann lead to a position where White had the two bishops, but Black stood better due to superior pawn play in the center. Valentina conducted her position extremely well until she allowed White’s knight to e4 with the unnecessary retreat of 27… Nd7. After that, the game looked roughly balanced until Dzagnidze maneuvered her rook to a4, which turned out to not be such a great square. This rook was ultimately White’s downfall, and it simply couldn’t get unstuck for the rest of the game. Once Black got a king to d5 and was ready to advance her c and d pawns, the game finished abruptly. This win puts Gunina at an impressive three out of four and leaves Dzagnidze at -1 once again.
GM Valentina Gunina was all business and won a nice game today
GM Bela Khotenashvili - IM Zhansaya Abdumalik 0-1
Bela continued her aggressive play by launching early kingside pressure against Zhansaya, but the young Kazakh IM fended it off well and started off queenside play of her own. The queenside pawn-storm seemed to be much stronger than its kingside counterpart, and the Georgian GM soon found herself on the defensive. It didn’t take long for Zhansaya’s attack to crash through, and Bela was forced to pitch a piece just to not get mated. Just as it looked like Abdumalik would easily wrap up the point, she made a few missteps in Khotenashvili’s time trouble, and the situation soon became unclear. F6 definitely seemed like a better way to activate her knight instead of the chosen path of Nf8-d7. White missed an amazing opportunity to draw with 42. F5! followed by h7 and g6, but after that her pawns just couldn’t hold off the extra piece, and Zhansaya converted it in short order. The win put Abdumalik at a plus score once again, while Bela falls down to one out of four.
IM Zhansaya Abdumalik’s technique was not perfect, but she took home the point nevertheless
GM Harika Dronavalli - IM Elisabeth Paehtz ½-½
An unusual King’s Indian lead to a situation where Black won a pawn, but White’s two bishops looked to be more than enough compensation. The German IM fought back extremely well, however, and seemed to stabilize the situation. Ultimately, Black held onto her extra pawn, but it was impossible to use effectively. White’s bishops were still quite strong, and neither side could make progress. The players repeated around move 30. A 4th draw in a row for Harika, while Elisabeth can’t be unhappy with a solid draw from a difficult opening.
Tomorrow at 1pm is the 5th round, and there are plenty of fine matchups to look forward to.