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Grand Prix leader Zhao Xue scores her first win in Nalchik
Tuesday, 04 May 2010
030510_xue-web.jpgThe 7th round of Women’s Grand Prix in Nalchik started off with a silence minute – the participants of the tournament stood in memory of FIDE’s ex-president, Florencio Campomanes. The sorrowful news did not affect the competitive spirit in a bad way – four games out of six ended victoriously.

The Grand Prix leader, Zhao Xue, who suffered three discouraging defeats at the start of the tournament, has finally scored her first win. In the 7th round Xue won the game against Elina Danielian from Armenia. In the accepted Quinn’s gambit, at the end of the opening, Black developed a pretty solid play with mutual chances. However, it chose the wrong plan which worsened its position considerably. Danielian was forced to give up her queen on 21st move. The realization phase that followed was carried out by Xue without a hitch.

030510_hou-web.jpgVice-champion of the world, Hou Yifan, playing with white against Munguntuul Batkhuyag from Mongolia, scored her fourth victory in a row. The Chinese player displayed her strength in the Spanish game once again. Having outplayed her opponent in the opening, Yifan only had to make proper use of her palpable advantage, which she eventually did and with much confidence too, crowning the game with an attack on the enemy king.

The leader of the tournament, Tatyana Kosintseva, playing white against the rating favorite, Humpy Koneru, failed to gain material advantage. Playing the Chelyabinsk variant of the Sicilian defense, the Russian player sacrificed by an exchange but did not get full compensation in return. At one point the Indian player had an opportunity of ensuring a better endgame for herself but missed it. Tatyana led the game to a forced draw.

Pia Cramling, playing white, used a fairly unusual formation in the English opening which apparently left her opponent, Baira 030510_kosintseva-web.jpgCovanova from Russia, quite surprised. White gained solid advantage already by the 16th move and continued to build the pressure. Black’s attempt to risk counterplay only helped speed the game up toward the denouement. The Swedish player scored a win on the 36th move.

Zhu Chen from Qatar totally outplayed her opponent – Betul Yildiz from Turkey – in the endgame which emerged during the Philidor defense on the 18th move. Chen captured a pawn on the 33rd move and carried on to secure an easy win.

Lilit Mkrtchian failed to make use of the huge advantage she had over her opponent, Nana Dzagnidze from Georgia. Similarly, the endgame arose pretty rapidly in this game, and the advantage of white was undeniable. Despite Dzagnidze’s stubborn defense, black’s position continued to be complicated up until the 38th move. After the time control and a few mistakes Lilit had only a small scrap of her advantage remaining. However, she decided to cease her attempts to gain a victory and agreed to a draw on the 55th move.

Tatyana Kosintseva with 6 points out of 7 has preserved her top position in the standings list after the seventh round. Hou Yifan is one point behind. Pia Cramling and Zhu Chen are a tie for the 3rd and 4th place, with 4.5 points each.
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