Entertaining Chess from Jermuk
The fourth tournament of the women's Grand Prix series started yesterday in Jermuk, Armenia. The idea of the Grand Prix is not only to bring together the best female players in the world for six round-robin tournaments, but also to define one of the title challengers in a match for the world championship, that is to take place next year. Thus great attention will be paid towards women's chess, and the image of the game among women will be raised. The other participant of that match will be the winner of the World Cup that will take place in Turkey this December.
The first round saw a lot of suspense, and fighting spirit. Six out of the seven games proved decisive, a huge percentage for such tournaments. This might be caused by the regulations, which prohibit draw offers unless a three-time repetition, perpetual check, or simple theoretically drawn position occurs on the board. The tournament has a special advisor for cases like that- the sixth world champion Nona Gaprindashvili. The famous Georgian also performed the first move of the tournament yesterday 1.d2-d4 in the game between the local hope E. Danielian and former world champion M. Chiburdanidze.
The first game to finish was the one between the lowest rated players:
Curiously, all the other decisive games finished in favour of the underdogs. Indeed, the elo difference is not that large, and there are no weak players in the event.
Soon afterwards Danielian used a bad blunder to bring joy to her country-fellows:
Stefanova's risky play in the opening burned her bridges behind her, and she had to sacrifice a piece for three pawns. Normally this is an approximately sufficient material equivalent, but White could not develop her queen's flank:
The second Armenian player Lilit Mkrtchian also managed to repel a dangerous attack and gain a full point against a former World Champion, although as she confessed afterwards, she was losing at some stage of the attack:
The Armenians play traditionally well at home, and give their best when defending the colours of their country. The men's national team won the last two Olympiads, and their women also have good results. Armenia is a chess country, and their chess president happens to also be the president of Armenia. This Grand Prix is named after one of the best chess composer ever, Genrikh Kasparian.
In the meanwhile, one Chinese girl used an unusual pawn thrust to upset her top-seeded compatriot:
The only "peaceful" game only proved the exceptional fighting spirit that the ladies have: