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All good things come to an end
Lopota 677Even though Hou Yifan's tournament win has been predictable for quite a while and mathematically inevitable since yesterday, only now, after the last clock has been stopped and the last scoresheet signed, is the right moment to congratulate the World Champion for her fantastic result! And to thank everyone for a wonderful tournament!

The decisive game rate remained high in the final round, featuring a couple of 'surprise' heroes, as mentioned below.
Playing with Black against the occupant of the third place, Danielian, Hou Yifan gradually neutralized White's slight initiative and space advantage until reaching an obviously drawn opposite-colored bishops ending. As if players did not wish to part with the wonderful chess experience in Lopota, the game continued for nine more moves before agreeing on a draw.
Kosteniuk confirmed her improving shape in the second half of the tournament by defeating Ju Wenjun. This allowed Danielian to catch up with the Chinese in a tie for 2nd-3rd and restored Hou Yifan's advantage of two whole points.

The last day brought a bit of joy to the only two players who had not tasted yet from the sweet cup of victory.
Black's original opening play was followed by a no less original middlegame plan in Muminova - Zhao Xue. A massive kingside attack involving almost all her pieces yielded the Chinese's first full point on the score table.
Black's play in Khotenashvili - Koneru was at least as "exotic" as in the game above, but the experiment of the second rating favorite didn't pay off equally well. Khotenashvili grabbed all the offered space and tempi to build up a decisive advantage which she converted confidently.

In Dronavalli - Stefanova, Black was about to get strong queenside counterplay in the early middlegame, determining her opponent to force a draw by move repetition. And in Muzychuk - Dzagnidze the supposedly peaceful Exchange French gave White persistent initiative after the early queen exchange, but the Georgian managed to gradually simplify to a drawn rook ending with just a few pawns left.
Lopota 285-2
The players are ready to close the curtains...

Final standings of the FIDE Women Grand Prix, Lopota 2014:

Rank SNo.   Name Rtg FED 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Pts Res. Vict
1 3 GM Hou Yifan 2629 CHN * 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 9 0 7
2 4 WGM Ju Wenjun 2532 CHN 0 * 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 0 1 1 ½ 7 1 5
3 9 GM Danielian Elina 2460 ARM ½ 0 * ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 7 0 4
4 5 GM Dzagnidze Nana 2541 GEO 0 ½ ½ * 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 0 4
5 12 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2488 BUL 0 0 ½ 1 * ½ ½ 0 1 1 ½ 1 6 ½ 4
6 6 GM Dronavalli Harika 2503 IND ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ * ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 1 6 ½ 2
7 7 GM Muzychuk Anna 2561 UKR 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ * ½ 1 ½ 1 1 3
8 1 GM Koneru Humpy 2613 IND ½ ½ 0 0 1 1 ½ * ½ ½ 0 1 1 3
9 8 GM Kosteniuk Alexandra 2532 RUS ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 0 0 ½ * ½ 1 1 ½ 3
10 2 GM Zhao Xue 2538 CHN 0 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ * ½ 1 0 1
11 11 GM Khotenashvili Bela 2518 GEO 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 1 0 ½ * 0 3 0 1
12 10 WGM Muminova Nafisa 2332 UZB 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 * 0 1

Lopota 677
How can such a kind lady be so dangerous?!

After her Khanty Mansyisk's triumph, Hou Yifan has once again proved unstoppable in Lopota. The only question we could speculate about, based on the distribution of her (very few) draws along the event is: in which tournament phase would it be safest to meet the World Champion? Frankly speaking, I feel there can be no talk about safety at all, but statistically it seems to make some sense hoping to face Hou Yifan after she has ensured her tournament victory.

Elina Danielian - Hou Yifan 1/2

In the encounter between Elina Danielian and Hou Yifan it was Elina who was pressing throughout. However, carefull defence by Hou Yifan allowed the Chinese to draw fairly comfortably.

The tournament sponsor is surely happy with Yifan's fashion choice for the last round!

If there was any room for improvement, then the diagrammed position would be the moment:


In the game, 17.Nb5 allowed Yifan to free herself with 17...d5; perhaps 17.Nd4 would have been a better way to keep the tension. With black's knight stranded on a6 and a looming a4-a5 Black would still have had some problems to solve.

Nevertheless, a draw is a good result for both players: Yifan finished the tournament on more than a positive note, while Elina started her endless series of tournaments from her agenda on the right foot - shared second in this event will, hopefully, give her wings in the upcoming European Women Championship from Plovdiv!

Shared second with 7/9, plus 25 rating points, a performance of 2628 and
a free holiday from our hosts! This was the end of a successful event for Elina.
For more explanations, see the closing ceremony photo gallery.

Nafisa Muminova - Zhao Xue 0-1

Both Nafisa Muminova and Zhao Xue will be likely trying to forget about this GP-event as fast as possible. But for Zhao Xue at least, the tournament ended with a victory. In a sideline of the Caro-Kann she opted for a rather closed position in which she slowly but surely brought her kingside-pawns forward. We enter the game at a turning-point:


Nafisa played 16.h3, rightly assessing that Black's kingside pawns are over-extended, but after Xue's 16...Nh6, 17.Nxe6 fxe6 18.Bxh6 gxh3 19.gxh3 Bxh3 20.Kh2 was the way to proceed, when White's king can safely shelter behind the h-pawn. Instead,
17.hxg4 Nxg4 18.Bf4 Rg8 gave Black a serious initiative. Xue skillfully improved her position with every move (although, during the press conference, her general unhappy feeling, given by a less fortunate tournament, persisted for this good game as well; she was far from satisfied of her play in the last round, too); by move 32 White could barely move a muscle.


Shortly afterwards, Nafisa resigned. The first win for Zhao Xue this tournament - just in time!

Unfortunately (or fortunately) the tournament has finished...and yet, the players have the immense strength
to brush the negative vibes under the carpet, while trying (and succeeding!) to have a good time.

Harika Dronavalli - Antoaneta Stefanova 1/2

Harika Dronavalli and Antoaneta Stefanova drew their game relatively quickly. 

Plus 10 rating points and shared fifth is not a bad result after all and it might place Antoaneta on the right track,
for the European Women Championship, which will be held in her native country!

The Bulgarian repeated her Slav with ...e6 and ...a6 that had previously brought her succes against Nana Dzagnidze. In this game, Harika was also unable to pose serious opening problems for Black, and when an opportunity to repeat moves arose, she did not mind doing just that. Draw - a fair and understandable result after such a marathon of fights. Besides, as the players agreed during the analysis, when the position doesn't promise much, why going off the deep end?

The peaceful talks with Antoaneta brought Harika a shared 5th place and 8 rating points on top of her ELO

Anna Muychuk - Nana Dzagnidze 1/2

It is not often seen on grandmaster level that the exchange French is used to play for a win, but Anna Muzychuk did just that against Nana Dzagnidze. Rightly so, it would seem, since she got a big advantage by relatively 'simple' means.

Although Anna may be a bit too harsh on herself, the tournament was not that disatrous; more problematic are
the 11 hours she had to spend in the airport on her way back home, between her Kiev-Lviv flights -
the hardships of a chess player's life...


Without analysing any concrete variations it's clear that White holds all the trumps. Perhaps 19.h4 g4 20.Nd2 was the right way to proceed but 19.Rae1 looked good as well. However, not finding the best way later on, allowed Nana to get back in the game and by move 30 Anna was forced to liquidate into a drawn rook endgame with:


30.h5+ Kxh5 31.Rxf5 Nxd5 32.Rxd5 Rxc6 33.Rxb5. The players agreed to a draw shortly afterwards.

Nana achieved her goal this tournament: although not truly happy with her final result (fourth position),
she played better than in the previous FIDE GP from Khanty Mansyisk. And in the end,
no matter what happens, Nana is actually always happy, in a true Georgian style:)

Alexandra Kosteniuk - Ju Wenjun 1-0

Alexandra Kosteniuk defeated Ju Wenjun in the last round, bringing sorrow to an overall excellent tournament for Wenjun.

Although the end of the tournament has a bitter taste for Ju Wenjun, she played interesting and refreshing chess.
True, she was caught in the standings by Elina Danielian, with whom she shares the 2nd position,
but the tournament brought Wenjun her...5th GM norm already! The Chinese though pays less attention
to the norms, titles and merits, focusing instead on the pure joy of playing chess.

The WGM played extremely original in the opening, a Bb5-Sicilian, as early as move 8 (she expressed her enthusiasm towards chess during the press conference, the reason why she went for the aggressive approach, instead of trying to get a draw and preserve her unshared second position in the tournament):


With 8...g5!? she set the board on fire but Alexandra reacted stoically with 9.Nxg5 Rg8 10.d4. Soon all the fun for Ju Wenjun was over when Alexandra exchanged queens and entered a slightly better endgame. It was there that the Russian former World Champion started to outplay her opponent with every move. She won a pawn, took a second one and then gave one back in order to reach a winning rook endgame. But what we see is usually only the tip of the iceberg, as Alexandra mentioned; she was unhappy with a couple of missed moves and opportunities, when, with the clock ticking away, she thought she could have been almost mated.


Alexandra feared 43...Be4 with the Rd1 threat hovering in the air, might have brought additional troubles...very much to her relief, Alexandra's anxiety disappeared with Wenjun's next move: 43...Rd3. Later on, during analysis, it proved to be a momentary halucination but, a scary one, nevertheless.
After a tough start, Alexandra will surely be happy to have finished the last 6 rounds of the tournament with 3 wins and 3 draws!

Nobody would dare to play with Alexandra now!

Bella Khotenashvili - Humpy Koneru 1-0

Before this round both Bella Khotenasvili and Zhao Xue were still waiting for their first win. As you have seen above, Zhao Xue won her first game in this final round, and so did Bella!

Bella is even more "bella" when she is smiling

Her opponent's provacative Benoni-setup didn't have the desired effect. On the contrary, by move 24, Bella had built up an overwhelming position:


With 24.e5! Bella showed that she is not afraid of ghosts. True, after 24...dxe5 25.fxe5 c4 26.Bxf5 Bxf5 27.e6 Qc7 28.Nxf5 Nxf5 29.Rxf5 Bc5 Black did win the exchange, but the further 30.Ne4 Bxe3+ 31.Qxe3 easily convincend the spectators that White's position was, in fact, completely winning. Little can be done against such a 'monster' on b2-the bishop. The threats along the a1-h8 diagonal soon proved too much to handle for Humpy and she had to throw in the towell on move 44.

Not a dream tournament for Humpy but she has all the reasons to be happy:
we all congratulate her, once again, for her upcoming marriage!

A tournament has finished, another one will start tomorrow...Time had come to draw the line, asses the results and move forward. But for the moment, some hours without chess are more than welcome. And we all enjoyed our time in the closing ceremony!







Since your reporter had discovered so many similarities between Romania and Georgia,
allow me to thank everyone for a wonderful tournament!
For your health and happiness!

The standings after the fifth stage of the FIDE Women Grand Prix series 2013-2014 will be updated shortly
For more photos from the last round and from the closing ceremony, kindly visit the gallery

By Alina l'Ami

© FIDE Grand Prix 2014    |    |