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Women's Candidates: Goryachkina-Tan Semifinal Starts With Fighting Draws
Two draws so far between Tan Zhongyi (left) vs. Aleksandra Goryachkina. Photo: Timur Sattarov/FIDE.

Women's Candidates: Goryachkina-Tan Semifinal Starts With Fighting Draws

PeterDoggers
| 6 | Chess Event Coverage

The FIDE Women's Candidates semifinal match between GM Aleksandra Goryachkina and GM Tan Zhongyi started with two fighting draws. Especially the first game was a long battle, where Tan had some winning chances. The third game is scheduled for 2 a.m. Pacific / 11:00 CET on Friday, December 9.

How to watch?
You can watch the 2022-2023 FIDE Women's Candidates Tournament on our Twitch channel. Games from the event can be viewed on our events page.


A month ago, the semifinal of Pool A in Monaco between GM Anna Muzychuk and GM Lei Tingjie started with three draws before Lei won the last game, thus qualifying for the final. Pool B, which will deliver Lei's opponent, has now started with two draws, so the tension is growing in Uzbekistan.

Goryachkina had the white pieces in the first game on Tuesday and went for 1.d4, after which the game very quickly left the theoretical waters, thanks to Tan's 4...a6 move. It is a slightly different version of what is known as the Janowski variation (1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 a6), named after the Polish-French master Dawid Janowski (1868-1927).

The reply of Goryachkina was surprising as well as the push 5.c5!? is usually not recommended in such structures. It led to a pawn trade that opened the c-file, and after that, Goryachkina allowed a doubled pawn on the kingside, a typical way of strengthening the control over e5-square.

Tan continued playing ultra-safe as she declined a pawn sacrifice on move 22, and by move 31 she was already slightly more comfortable as Black. This advantage increased when she got a passed pawn on c4, after which the Chinese GM could almost endlessly play on "for two results." While the engine kept on evaluating the position quite favorably for Black, in practice it proved too difficult to win.

"All in all, I didn’t think that my position was that challenging," said Goryachkina. "We were just moving back and forth and I don't recall having any major problems. Maybe my opponent was able to play stronger at some moments, but she didn’t."

Aleksandra Goryachkina
Aleksandra Goryachkina didn't feel that uncomfortable during the game. Photo: Timur Sattarov/FIDE.

The second game was not as long, but again it was Tan who had the slightly better chances, this time with the white pieces. This was a more traditional (Exchange) Queen's Gambit (by move repetition from a Semi-Slav), where Goryachkina chose a setup that was also recently played online by her compatriot GM Alexey Sarana. In general, she played a very solid game and skilfully maneuvered under the little pressure that Tan was putting on the position.

Two more classical games will follow, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, and in case of a 2-2 score, the players will play a tiebreak on Sunday. 

Tan Goryachkina Khiva 2022
Another draw between Tan and Goryachkina. Photo: Timur Sattarov/FIDE.

The 2022-23 Women's Candidates Tournament is an elite event featuring eight top female players, who compete in a knockout format for a share of the €250,000 prize fund and the right to play in the Women's World Championship match against Women's World Champion Ju Wenjun.

Pool A was won by GM Lei TingjiePool B takes place November 29-December 11, 2022 in Khiva, Uzbekistan. The prize fund is 70,000 euros, while another 110,000 will be at stake in next year's final. The time control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move one. A draw offer before move 40 is not allowed.


Previous coverage:

PeterDoggers
Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by Chess.com in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!


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