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Kosintseva has made a weighty claim to win the third stage of FIDE Grand Prix
Saturday, 01 May 2010
300410_kosintseva-web.jpgThe leader of the Nalchik stage of FIDE Grand Prix, Tatyana Kosintseva gained the upper hand in the game against Nana Dzagnidze from Georgia in the 5th round and consolidated the gap between herself and her competitors. The Russian chess player has scored 4.5 points out of five and is now ahead of her immediate pursuers by 1.5 points.

For this crucial game that lasted more than five hours Dzagnidze, playing black, opted for a solid defence arrangement of Caro-Kann. The opening did not cause the Georgian player any particular problems. However, she strongly intensified the game on the 12th  move by sacrificing  a pawn but that sacrifice was never compensated for. Long-drawn forced variants followed and eventually led the match into the endgame. Kosinsteva had two rooks at her disposal to play against a queen and three spare pawns to boot. Despite the stubborn resistance from Dzagnidze, the Russian player finally gained a victory.

300410_yifan-web.jpgVice-world champion, Hou Yifan played a fine game against her compatriot, the Grand Prix series leader, Zhao Xue, who obviously seems to be having problems with playing at this tournament so far. Yifan used a new scheme in the well-known Spanish game and created difficult riddles for her opponent to solve. Xue failed to produce an adequate response, and gradually her position grew less and less comfortable. Approaching the endgame, she overlooked a simple combination, lost by an exchange and had to admit defeat on the 39th move.

The rating favorite of the tournament, Humpy Koneru from India, is not up to scratch yet either. She played white against Zhu Chen from Quatar. The white got into trouble right in the opening: they did not get a compensation for a pawn in the Catalan opening. Gaining a queen in return for a rook and a bishop failed to bring them any advantage due to the weakness of the king and a poorly constructed piece development. Moreover, Koneru made a serious mistake on the 25th move and was compelled to stop resisting in view of unavoidable material losses.

Baira Kovanova, playing black against Betul Yildiz, chose a rather passive continuation in the Scotch game. At one spot, the Turkish player gained perceptible advantage over her opponent. However, she not only failed to make good use of it but also gave up the entire initiative. Betul made a gross mistake on the 22nd move, which made it virtually impossible to save the game. Covanova secured her win on the 26th move.

300410_zal-web.jpgThe game played by Pia Cramling and Batkhuyag Munguntuul lasted longer that all the others. The Mongolian played strictly to ensure an equalizer and by the 34th move approached the rook endgame without a pawn which theoretically might end with a draw. Cramling continued looking for a chance to win until the 119th move but Munguntuul kept defending with a good deal of discretion and secured a draw for herself.

The duel of the two Armenian players was the shortest in this round. They rapidly exchanged nearly all their pieces and, having arrived at the endgame with black and white bishops, found that their chances were completely equal. A peaceful agreement to draw followed on the 36th move.

There will be a day off before the sixth round, so the players will be able to muster their strength before starting into the second half of the tournament.

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