Shuvalova Wins 2nd Game in Row, Nears Leaders
Shuvalova has bounced back from her round-one loss with two wins in a row. Photo: Mark Livshitz/FIDE.

Shuvalova Wins 2nd Game in Row, Nears Leaders

| 19 | Chess Event Coverage

IM Polina Shuvalova was the sole winner of round three at the Nicosia FIDE Women's Grand Prix 2022-2023, defeating IM Gunay Mammadzada with a combination of strategic understanding and tenacity. Shuvalova is now tied for third, trailing the leaders, GMs Kateryna Lagno and Tan Zhongyi, by half a point.

WGM Dinara Wagner unleashed a spirited piece of home prep on IM Bibisara Assaubayeva, leading to a double-edged game where Assaubayeva was able to navigate the complexity over the board. 

GM Aleksandra Goryachkina had a commanding advantage vs. GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, but in the end, the 12th women's world champion found a way to create counterplay and save the game. 

The final leg of the FIDE Women's Grand Prix continues with round four on Friday, May 19, starting at 5:00 a.m. Pacific/14:00 CEST.

How to watch?
You can watch live games of the FIDE Women's Grand Prix on our Events Page. The rounds start each day at 5:00 a.m. Pacific/14:00 CEST.

Lagno vs. Tan

In the clash between the leaders, the Petroff took on a more aggressive nature when Lagno used her king to escape Black's pin on the h5-d1 diagonal and Tan reacted by opening the f-file to double her rooks to create more kingside pressure. 

After several trades in the center, the position changed into a queen and rook ending where Lagno's heavy pieces dominated the e-file, but Tan's major counterparts kept her few weaknesses well-supported. Though Lagno used the majority of the time left on her clock looking for ways to increase her slight edge, the game eventually winded down to a draw. 

Wagner vs. Assaubayeva 

Wagner intensified the already notoriously double-edged King's Indian Defense with 12.g4!?―a bolt to Black's kingside. As commentator WGM Keti Tsatsalashvili noted, so far in this event, Wagner's home preparation has been a strength: “Very, very heavy home preparation. Dinara, to me, seems to be well-prepared. I think, in the time from the Munich Grand Prix until the Cypress Grand Prix, she was working hard, many hours of the days.” 

Assaubayeva seemed to be surprised, yet unfazed, responding energetically in the center and then offering a pawn sacrifice on the queenside. Though Wagner gained the superior pawn structure and a mighty knight on the e4-outpost, Assaubayeva created counterplay by building up pressure on White's backward f-pawn. In the end, this led to a topsy-turvy balance.

Wagner had hostile intentions against Assaubayeva's King's Indian Defense. Photo: Mark Livshitz/FIDE.

Shuvalova vs. Mammadzada

Shuvalova is the only player remaining who’s played all decisive games. Her efforts for the win have played off; despite her round-one loss, she’s joined the tie for third. 

Shuvalova opted for a Maroczy Bind setup against Mammadzada’s Sicilian Kan, giving White a space edge while Black has few weaknesses, always looking to prepare the pawn breaks …d5 or …b5. 

By move 21, Shuvalova gained a vast time edge of nearly 50 minutes to just 10 for her opponent. Black can often struggle to find moves because her plan is less concrete in her solid yet cramped position.  

White increased her edge by barreling her forces down at Black’s weak d6-pawn, forcing …e5, permanently weakening d5 and the light-squares. Shuvalova soon took over this potent central outpost and, by move 27, every single white piece was more active than its black counterpart, which was completely tied down to the passive defense of her backward d-pawn.

Shuvalova is proving to be a relentless fighter. Photo: Mark Livshitz/FIDE.

With such a commanding position, Shuvalova seemed a little over-eager to convert her advantage, rushing to win the weak pawn but allowing her opponent to trade into a rook ending with drawing chances. From there, the world number-16 for women had to win the game all over again, but she was up for the challenge. When Mammadzada gave her a chance at winning, she capitalized. Can you find how she turned a drawish rook ending into a winning one?

In her post-game interview, Shuvalova shared that―although the original rook ending was technically drawn―she intended to press on for as long as possible: 

"In the end, she had probably good chances to save the game if she just stayed, not pushing ...g5 (...). If she just stayed, I would play g3 and f4 at some moment and grab the e5-pawn. And then we will be playing for another hundred moves."

And then we will be playing for another hundred moves.

—Polina Shuvalova

This tenacious victory is our Game of the Day, analyzed by GM Rafael Leitao.

Kosteniuk vs Goryachkina 

In the battle between the Aleksandras, the top seed faced the 12th women's world champion. Further, these two competitors currently lead in grand prix points (except for GM Zhu Jiner, who’s already completed three events). 

With the black pieces, Goryachkina discovered the chance to weaken her opponent's structure, forcing the creation of doubled backward pawns on the half-open e-file. Then, she increased her advantage by expanding on the queenside, step by step. Gaining a dominant grip on the position, Goryachkina created a queenside passed pawn and maneuvered her knights to centralized outposts on c5 and e5. She won a pawn and seemed on her way to grinding down White's defenses for the full point. 

However, after one inaccurate move, Kosteniuk leaped at the opportunity to win her rival's passer and simplify into a queen vs. two rooks ending with ample counterplay, ultimately holding the balance. 

Kosteniuk resiliently defended her difficult position vs. Goryachkina. Photo: Mark Livshitz/FIDE.

Kiolbasa vs. Khotenashvili

In an Open Ruy Lopez, IM Oliwia Kiolbasa expanded in the center with a d4-d5 break and later with c4-c5, breaking up Black's queenside structure. GM Bella Khotenashvili kept the position balanced by activating her pieces, doubling on the d-file and sinking her bishop into White's side of the board and d3. With all the heavy pieces facing each other, hinting at mass exchanges, the players drew.

Dzagnidze vs. Dronavalli 

This game finished very quickly and looked like neither player had much intention to play for a win. GM Harika Dronavalli and GM Nana Dzagnidze went into a known perpetual check idea in the opening. Despite playing White, it's likely that Dzagnidze intended to draw as a reset to her tough loss in the previous round.

While it's certainly disappointing from a spectator perspective to see a game that isn't really a game, the players often pace themselves in a long, high-pressure tournament against top-notch competition, being mindful of their energy and confidence levels. 

Results - Round 3

White Black
Wagner 1/2 - 1/2 Assaubayeva
Dzagnidze 1/2 - 1/2 Dronavalli
Kosteniuk 1/2 - 1/2 Goryachkina
Kiolbasa 1/2 - 1/2 Khotenashvili
Lagno 1/2 - 1/2 Tan
Shuvalova 1 - 0 Mammadzada

Standings - Round 3

Pairings - Round 4

White Black
Assaubayeva  -  Mammadzada
Tan  -  Shuvalova
Khotenashili  -  Lagno
Goryachkina  -  Kiolbasa
Dronavalli - Kosteniuk
Wagner - Dzagnidze

All Games - Round 3

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