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Bottom Seed, New Peak: Wagner Joins Leaders
Despite entering the tournament with the lowest rating, Wagner is tied for first with an undefeated score. Photo: Mark Livshitz/FIDE.

Bottom Seed, New Peak: Wagner Joins Leaders

NM_Vanessa
| 11 | Chess Event Coverage

WGM Dinara Wagner joined the leaders by defeating IM Oliwia Kiolbasa in round six at the Nicosia FIDE Women's Grand Prix 2022-2023 on Sunday. As we enter the second half of the tournament, Wagner has caught up with GMs Harika Dronavalli, Kateryna Lagno, and Tan Zhongyi in the tie for first. With such a competitive, undefeated score so far, Wagner has risen 11 spots in the live women's rankings, reaching a new personal peak at number 31. 

GM Alexandra Kosteniuk scored her first victory, combining insightful strategic play with attacking board awareness.  

The FIDE Women's Grand Prix continues after the rest day with round seven on Tuesday, May 23, 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.

The round before the rest day tends to be one of the big fighting rounds. Since the players get a day off afterward to recharge, they know they can put their all in. Several of the competitors clearly had combative intentions.

Harika vs. Lagno

Two of the leaders faced off in the longest game of the day. With white, Harika prepared a sharp pawn sacrifice in the opening vs. Lagno, gaining a grip on the center, a lead in development, and the two bishops as compensation.

Trying to take advantage of Lagno's loosened queenside, Harika inaccurately chose the 16.c4 pawn break, leading to a slew of exchanges, including most of the center and queenside pawns. As the smoke had cleared, the players had reached a rook endgame with four vs. three pawns. Though Lagno fought for over five hours with her extra pawn, rook endings with all the pawns on one side are notoriously hard to convert, especially with two of Black's pawns doubled. After testing Harika's defenses for 85 moves, Lagno accepted the draw.

Harika came ready to fight with an enterprising pawn sacrifice. Photo: Mark Livshitz/FIDE.

Wagner vs. Kiolbasa

Wagner's victory vs. Kiolbasa was an exercise in persistence. Reaching an equal endgame, the German competitor worked to steadily improve all of her pieces while her opponent's virtually stood still in defense. Despite winning a pawn, it was still a struggle to create winning chances due to Wagner's crippled queenside structure. 

Both players created passers on opposing sides of the board, but Wagner's was more advanced, allowing her to keep the pressure on her opponent. Though she had good chances at a draw, Kiolbasa made a critical mistake, focusing on her own counterplay instead of defense. Wagner unleashed a decisive tactical idea to hunt after Black's loose pieces while preparing for her passer's advance. 

Dzagnidze vs. Kosteniuk

With black, Kosteniuk outplayed GM Nana Dzagnidze and perceptively maximized each opportunity her opponent gave her. She combined gaining space on the kingside with creating a dominating position on the queenside. Her queen especially found a useful post on a3 where it could keep an eye on White's weak pawns while supporting potential penetration ideas on the second rank. Keeping her opponent under pressure on both sides of the board and on the clock, Kosteniuk won a pawn. As Dzagnidze tried to regain her lost material, the 12th women's world champion discovered a winning idea. Can you find it?

In her interview, Kosteniuk shared that, during the game, she was dreaming of this kind of opportunity:

"When you play ...g5, it's like saying, 'Aye,' and you already start imagining all those checkmating nets.... It's hard to imagine how to break through, but when she played h4, you know, I started dreaming."

Kosteniuk's first victory of the event is our Game of the Day, analyzed by GM Rafael Leitao.


Kosteniuk's forces conquered both sides of the board. Photo: Mark Livshitz/FIDE.

Mammadzada vs. Khotenashvili

Surprised by her opponent's choice of opening, IM Gunay Mammadzada steered clear of the theory in the King's Indian Attack. Though she ended up with a worse position with the black pieces due to GM Bella Khotenashvili's space edge and two bishops, Mammadzada balanced upholding her defenses and counterattacking her opponent's weak pawns to limit White's winning chances. Khotenashvili startled the Azerbaijani international master again by pushing her passer with a tactical idea, yet Mammadzada put up keen resistance to gain equality.

Goryachkina vs. Shuvalova

IM Polina Shuvalova displayed impressive preparation vs. GM Aleksandra Goryachkina. Playing black against the second-highest woman in the world, the 22-year-old international master finished the game with more time on her clock than she started with while her formidable opponent used half her time to navigate the complicated possibilities on the board. 

With an isolated yet passed pawn on d5, Goryachkina had a slight edge, but with two pairs of minor pieces traded away, Black had enough room for comfortable placement of her pieces. Though White's position looked quite appealing and Goryachkina tried the logical 22.Re7 to add pressure against Black's blockade, Shuvalova had the arising variations worked out to equality. Her king was able to pick up the advanced d-pawn in time to eliminate any promotion worries. 

Shuvalova is looking forward to adventures and relaxation on the rest day: "I will go for the excursion by the organizers to the mountains for the fresh air and then maybe go to the pool and have rest."

Tan vs. Assaubayeva

Tan and IM Bibisara Assaubayeva duked it out in a sharp, highly-theoretical variation in the English. White gains a development edge while allowing Black to wreck her queenside pawn structure. From the black side, Tan found a clever queen maneuver, inducing exchanges into a level ending where her better structure compensates for White's temporary advantage in activity.

With her compelling performance so far, Tan has been tied for first since round one. Photo: Mark Livshitz/FIDE.

Results - Round 6

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

Standings - Round 6

When the players return from the rest day, we will see two more leaders matched up in Lagno vs. Wagner. In addition, Shuvalova―who is trailing by just half a point―has her chance at the white pieces against another frontrunner, Harika. 

Pairings - Round 7

White Black
Kosteniuk  -  Assaubayeva
Lagno  -  Wagner
Kiolbasa  -  Dzagnidze
Mammadzada  -  Goryachkina
Shuvalova - Harika
Tan - Khotenashvili

All Games - Round 6


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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