Women's Speed Chess: Gunina Crushes Krush

Women's Speed Chess: Gunina Crushes Krush

| 15 | News

GM Valentina Gunina showed her blitz skills as she crushed GM Irina Krush 24 to 5 in Monday's quarterfinal match of the Women's Speed Chess Championship. The match saw the highest percentage of decisive games ever on

It was a match that set several Speed Chess Championship records. Gunina vs. Krush had the most decisive games to start a match (18), the least draws in a match (2, tied with Duda-Grischuk), the most decisive games in a match (27), and the highest percentage of decisive games in a match (93 percent).

Watched by over 14 thousand concurrent viewers in the final phase, the third quarterfinal of the Women's Speed Chess Championship was the best so far, despite the lopsided score. Gunina confirmed expectations, and did even better.

Gunina Krush predictions 2019 Women's Speed Chess Championship
The SmarterChess predictions for the Gunina Krush match.

The match didn't start that badly for Krush, who was playing quite decent chess in the first three games, as she noted herself. It was a very unfortunate incident in game four that would have a long-lasting effect.

The match started with a normal, Sicilian game where Gunina was playing actively on the kingside, but in reality the position was equal. Then Krush missed a cute tactic:

Krush also lost the second, but here she was even winning, initially. She just had to think a bit more actively (22.Ne5!, 24.Qf5!) but instead it was Gunina who crashed through first.

Krush then won the third game with a standard tactic that remains easy to miss. Gunina could in fact have her piece with an intermediate move.

So far, nothing serious had happened, and the match could definitely go either way in terms of quality of play. But then, game four.

Starting with am Exchange Slav, Krush played the theoretical moves 7.Qb3 Na5 8.Qa4+ Bd7 9.Qc2 quickly, only to discover, to her horror, that her last move had been recorded as 9.Qb3.

"Actually I got very upset when that mouse slip or something like that happened in round four," said Krush after the match. "I don’t even know how it happened; I thought I had fixed it and on my board it said normally Qc2 and right away it suddenly changed the position to the queen being on b3 and Black just taking the queen. So it was like such a shock to me, you know."

Irina Krush 2019 Women's Speed Chess Championship

Krush suggested that the incident dictated the match to some extent: "It was gonna be a very difficult match anyway but I felt the first two games were pretty good, even though I lost and the third game I played well, I was just getting back on track and when I just gave away a game like that, I don’t know, it was depressing for me so the whole set of next games was of lower quality for me. And of course I had to play my best I think to have a chance today. And that didn’t happen."

And indeed, it wasn't the normal Krush anymore with stuff like this happening:

This wasn't a fun at phase at all for Brooklyn based Krush, who showed a wry smile when she blundered a full queen in a queen endgame while Gunina's face hardly showed emotion. 

Including the queen drop, Krush lost seven(!) games in a row, before finally recovering a bit. Her win in the last five-minute game must have been a pleasant one:

5|1 section | Scores

# Fed Name Handle Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Score
1 Valentina Gunina @Vanina1989 2534 2543 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 9.0
2 Irina Krush @Irochka83 2282 2273 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2.0

In the 3|1 segment Gunina continued strongly. She won four straight games, and by then the match was practically decided, with a 13-2 score for the Russian player.

Krush's first win in this portion was wild. She had been winning for most of the game, but in the final, crazy phase neither the player nor the commentators knew what exactly what was happening. Helped by the engine, it's easier to make the conclusions: as it turned out, Krush flagged with a losing move!

Were these players not capable of playing draws? Well, almost. Only twice the point was split in this match, and even then the games were pretty adventurous.

Valentina Gunina 2019 Women's Speed Chess Championship

3|1 section | Scores

# Fed Name Handle Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Score
1 Valentina Gunina @Vanina1989 2537 2544 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 ½ 1 7.5
2 Irina Krush @Irochka83 2265 2258 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 ½ 0 1.5

Krush started the bullet with 1.5/2, but then the energy was gone. With seven straight wins, Gunina set another 7.5-1.5 segment score to put the final tally on 24-5. 

Krush wasn't without chances:

Gunina is an aggressive player and is feeling like a fish in the water in open positions. It seems the white side against the Queen's Gambit Accepted suits her well, as she scored several victories there.

1|1 section | Scores

# Fed Name Handle Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Score
1 Valentina Gunina @Vanina1989 2141 2618 0 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 7.5
2 Irina Krush @Irochka83 2339 1862 1 ½ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.5

"I don’t think I had too many problems in the openings actually. It was just later on that I didn’t use my chances, when I was getting low on time I just played really badly," said Krush.

Despite her huge win, Gunina wasn't too thrilled about her play: "I think I was playing so badly but Irina started to [blunder] at the beginning. (...) I couldn’t think at all! It’s more than three hours, starting at your computer, it’s really difficult."

The Russian player repeated that she still prefers over-the-board chess, as she likes to feel the pieces. "But it was fun! Enormous!"

2019 Women's Speed Chess Championship bracket

Krush earned $172 based on win percentage; Gunina won $1,000 for the victory plus $828 on percentage, totalling $1,828. The Russian GM moves on to the semifinals, where she will play Alexandra Kosteniuk on June 25.

Krush praised the format as it promotes chess in a good way: "I was very happy to see that this event was getting started. I always found the Speed Chess Championships exciting to watch and so I think it’s great that they’re expanding to women and to juniors."Women Speed Chess Championship Schedule

The Women Speed Chess Championship is a knockout tournament among eight of the strongest female chess players in the world. Each match has 90 minutes of 5|1 blitz, 60 minutes of 3|1 blitz and 30 minutes of 1|1 bullet chess. The total prize fund is $20,000. 

You can replay the live broadcast here.

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