Anna Muzychuk and Tan Zhongyi will play a 4-game match starting Monday to decide the new Women’s World Champion after an incredible three days of semifinal action. Alexandra Kosteniuk collapsed and lost in two games against Anna Muzychuk after letting a winning position slip in the first. Harika Dronavalli put up stunning resistance in the other semifinal but it was Tan Zhongyi’s nerves that held best in the end as she came through in Armageddon for the second time in Tehran.
It’s hard to imagine two more different semifinals!
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Let’s take the matches one at a time.
Anna Muzychuk 2:0 Alexandra Kosteniuk
Matches don’t get much tougher than this. 2nd seed Muzychuk was facing 3rd seed Kosteniuk, with both players unbeaten so far in Tehran. If there was an edge it was for Anna, who had finished all her matches in the classical games while Alexandra twice needed tiebreaks, but on the other hand, Alexandra had the experience of winning the World Championship in just such a knockout in 2008.
Sometimes in such situations it’s safety first, but on this occasion Alexandra Kosteniuk was on the verge of winning with the white pieces after only 14 moves. She could have sacrificed a piece on e6, but despite missing that opportunity twice she built up a big edge on the board and the clock…
Although Anna did make the time control, her position was almost collapsing and Alexandra took a third chance to sacrifice on e6. Things began to slip, however, on move 43: