Alexandra Kosteniuk Wins Monaco Women's Grand Prix
Left to right: Goryachkina, Kosteniuk and Koneru at the award ceremony. Photo: Karol Bartnik/FIDE.

Alexandra Kosteniuk Wins Monaco Women's Grand Prix

PeterDoggers
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21 | Chess Event Coverage

Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia) won the Monaco Women's Grand Prix after a thriller of a final round. Humpy Koneru (India) is still leading the GP standings, followed by Aleksandra Goryachkina (Russia).

After six rounds, the tournament had a trio at the top: Goryachkina, Koneru and Harika Dronavalli (also from India). All three were on 4/6.

See our report on the first six rounds here.

After the rest day, which ended with a gala dinner at the Casino de Monte Carlo, Dronavalli dropped out of the lead when she drew her game with Anna Muzychuk in round seven.

Goryachkina and Koneru both won tense fights. The Russian GM, at 21 years already a world championship contender, played aggressively but faced stiff resistance from Nana Dzagnidze. However, the 32-year-old Georgian blundered her main trump on the queenside:

Aleksandra Goryachkina Monaco Grand Prix 2019
Aleksandra Goryachkina. Photo: Karol Bartnik/FIDE.

Koneru was actually worse in the opening, but she was OK again when China's Zhao Xue gave back her extra pawn for no good reason. Just before and after the time control both players missed several not-so-easy tactics, and eventually the Indian GM ended with an extra piece.

Humpy Koneru Monaco Grand Prix 2019
Humpy Koneru. Photo: Karol Bartnik/FIDE.

As Koneru drew the next day against her compatriot Harika, Goryachkina took her chances and grabbed the sole lead. She also played a compatriot but one who was lacking form in Monaco. Valentina Gunina eventually ended in last place and lost this game early in the opening:

Valentina Gunina Women Grand Prix Monaco 2019
Valentina Gunina. Photo: Karol Bartnik/FIDE.

Round nine saw five draws and one huge upset. Paehtz, who had already lost four games, managed to beat Koneru in an excellent game as the Indian GM seemed uncomfortable in the Maroczy Bind structure:

Elisabeth Paehtz Monaco Grand Prix 2019
Elisabeth Paehtz. Photo: Karol Bartnik/FIDE.

This result meant that Goryachkina, on 6.5, with her draw had increased her lead to a full point. Koneru and Harika were joint second on 5.5.

The penultimate round saw again five draws and this time Kosteniuk as the only winner. The former world champion from Russia defeated Harika and took her opponent's place in the standings, joining Koneru in second place, a point behind Goryachkina.

Harika failed to cope with Kosteniuk's excellent 21...c5 and 22...a5 moves, or perhaps the Indian played for a win herself?

Harika D<p>ronavalli Monaco Grand Prix 2019
Harika Dronavalli. Photo: Karol Bartnik/FIDE.

Still leading by a point, Goryachkina hadn't secured victory yet as she had to play black against Koneru in the final round.

Taken by surprise in the opening, the Russian player sacrificed a pawn but didn't get enough compensation. She probably should have avoided the queen trade, as Koneru converted with excellent play in the endgame:

Humpy Koneru Monaco Grand Prix 2019
Humpy Koneru. Photo: Karol Bartnik/FIDE.

Koneru would have won her second straight Women's Grand Prix if not for Kosteniuk's win against Paehtz that enabled the Russian GM to catch the leaders and win on a better tiebreak—direct encounter, followed by the number of wins.

Kosteniuk, Koneru and Goryachkina shared the top three prizes, and each took home 12,333 euros.

It was a convincing victory, although Kosteniuk's fierce attacking play did contain one inaccuracy. However, the tactic that could have saved Paehtz was hard to find:

In Monaco, Kosteniuk took her third title in two weeks as she has also won both the European rapid and blitz championships right before the Grand Prix. At the closing ceremony she said: "After my ups and downs in the first half of the tournament, I had never expected to even be able to fight for first place. Only before the last round did I realize that I still had a small chance."

Alexandra Kosteniuk Monaco Grand Prix 2019
Alexandra Kosteniuk. Photo: Karol Bartnik/FIDE.

Monaco Women Grand Prix | Finals Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 Pts SB
1 Kosteniuk,Alexandra 2483 2618 ½ 1 0 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 0 7.0/11 39
2 Koneru,Humpy 2577 2610 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 1 7.0/11 37.25
3 Goryachkina,Aleksandra 2575 2610 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 ½ 1 7.0/11 34
4 Lagno,Kateryna 2549 2579 1 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 6.5/11
5 Muzychuk,Anna 2543 2547 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 6.0/11
6 Muzychuk,Mariya 2552 2516 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 5.5/11 29.25
7 Harika,Dronavalli 2518 2518 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 1 5.5/11 26.5
8 Cramling,Pia 2443 2525 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 5.5/11 26.5
9 Zhao,Xue 2485 2489 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 5.0/11 24.25
10 Dzagnidze,Nana 2502 2489 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 5.0/11 23.25
11 Paehtz,Elisabeth 2484 2425 0 1 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 0 ½ 0 1 4.0/11
12 Gunina,Valentina 2509 2258 1 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 0 2.0/11

The tournament in Monaco was second leg in the four-tournament Grand Prix series for women, part of the 2019-2021 women's world championship cycle. It took place Dec. 2-15 at the Yacht Club de Monaco under the patronage of H.S.H. Prince Albert II. Chess has an important status in the principality, and local TV also showed its interest.

Yacht Club de Monaco
The view from the Yacht Club de Monaco. Photo: Karol Bartnik/FIDE.

The first Grand Prix, in September in Skolkovo, was won by Koneru. Two more Grand Prix will be played:

  • Mar. 1-14: Lausanne, Switzerland
  • May 20-June 10: Sardinia, Italy

A total of 16 players compete in these four tournaments, but each participant plays in just three. Unlike the general FIDE Grand Prix, the women's tournaments do not transform into knockouts but are instead 12-player round-robins. The prize fund in each Grand Prix is 80,000 euros with 15,000 euros and 160 Grand Prix points for the winner.

Eventually the winner (based on the cumulative points earned in all three tournaments she plays) and the runner-up qualify to the Women's Candidates' Tournament to be held in the first half of 2021.

Grand Prix Standings

Rank Fed Player Skolkovo Monaco Lausanne Sardinia Total
1 Humpy Koneru 160 133⅓ 293⅓
2 Aleksandra Goryachkina 120 133⅓ 253⅓
3 Kateryna Lagno 90 90 180
4 Alexandra Kosteniuk 45 133⅓ 178⅓
5 Ju Wenjun 120 120
6 Dronavalli Harika 60 60 120
7 Elisabeth Paehtz 75 20 95
8 Valentina Gunina 75 10 85
9 Anna Muzychuk 80 80
10 Pia Cramling 10 60 70
11 Mariya Muzychuk 60 60
12 Alina Kashlinskaya 45 45
13 Nana Dzagnidze 35 35
13 Zhao Xue 35 35
15 Antoaneta Stefanova 25 25
15 Marie Sebag 25 25


Games rounds 7-11 for replay/download:


An interview with Kosteniuk after the tournament.


Previous report:

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