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ChessQueen Captures Lead After Rival's Puzzling Blunder
With her round two victory, Kosteniuk is the only competitor still on a perfect score. Photo: David Llada/FIDE.

ChessQueen Captures Lead After Rival's Puzzling Blunder

NM_Vanessa
| 1 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, known as ChessQueen on Chess.com, captured the sole lead in round two of the Munich FIDE Women's Grand Prix. She defeated longtime rival GM Elisabeth Paehtz to reach 2-0.

GM Anna Muzychuk earned her first victory by defeating WGM Dinara Wagner in a turbulent battle.

How to watch? The games of the Munich Women's Grand Prix can be found here. The rounds start each day at 6 a.m. Pacific/15:00 CEST.

IM Alina Kashlinskaya tried a gambit variation in the French Advanced. GM Tan Zhongyi returned the pawn in the middlegame. Trading into an even opposite-color bishop ending, the players agreed to a draw on move 31 as the first game to finish. 

With this draw, Kashlinskaya steadies herself after a first-round loss while Tan is tied for second with 1.5. Photo: David Llada/FIDE.

Paehtz unleashed the swashbuckling Evans Gambit on Kosteniuk but began to stumble in the middlegame, inexplicably spending tempi to move her knight back and forth from e5 to f3 and then back to e5. On move 23, the German grandmaster blundered a piece with 23.Bf4??, perhaps missing that the e4-rook is not actually pinned to the back rank.

Kosteniuk has a considerable lead in the overall score of the vast number of games between the two.

With an insightful desperado tactical sequence, WGM Zhu Jiner gained a mighty protected passer vs. GM Harika Dronavalli. In the arising winning ending, Zhu chose a less effective post for her rook while Harika counterattacked, creating a passed pawn of her own. The game wound down into a repetition as Zhu gobbled up Black's kingside pawns while Harika devoured White's queenside ones. 

In the post-round interview, Harika shared: "It was a very tense game, and I think a draw is more than good for me today. ... After a long time, I'm coming back to classical chess, and I just want to try each game that comes."

Anna Muzychuk made a comeback vs. Wagner in a tumultuous duel. Initially, Wagner gained a commanding position against the Grunfeld Defense by expanding in the center and tripling down the f-file to create sharp kingside tension. However, the Ukrainian grandmaster held on despite the immense pressure and seized the upper hand as the players reached mutual time troubles. When Wagner blundered a pawn, Muzychuk took command of the ending, converting it into victory on move 70. 

This stormy battle is our Game of the Day, annotated by GM Rafael Leitao.

GM Rafael Leitao GotD

A fight from beginning to end. Photo: David Llama/FIDE.

GM Zhansaya Abdumalik capitalized on her opponent's error to trap the adventurous white rook in the queenless middlegame. GM Humpy Koneru fought on, down an exchange for a pawn. The Kazakh grandmaster went on to gain potent activity for her rook on the second rank, pick off many of Koneru's pawns, and create a passed h-pawn, which she used to win White's bishop. In the resulting rook vs. two pawns ending, Koneru managed to pull out a miracle draw, mobilizing her connected passers to generate enough counterplay.

Relentless despite her vast material deficit, Koneru managed an unimaginable save. Photo: David Llada/FIDE.

By move 30, GM Mariya Muzychuk was ahead three pawns, though GM Nana Dzagnidze had some compensation in the form of kingside pressure. Muzychuk sacrificed two pawns to trade into an advantageous queen ending but didn't find a way to convert it. The players drew after 81 moves. 

Crosstable

All Games - Round 2

The FIDE Women's Grand Prix Second Leg (of four) takes place February 1-14, 2023, in Munich, Germany. The format is a round-robin tournament with 12 players. The time control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game, plus a 30-second increment starting on move one. The prize fund is 80,000 euros. 

Previous coverage:

NM_Vanessa
NM Vanessa West

Vanessa West is a National Master, a chess teacher, and a writer for Chess.com. In 2017, they won the Chess Journalist of the Year award.

You can follow them on X: Vanessa__West

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