Goryachkina Wins Women's Candidates’ Ahead Of Anna Muzychuk
Tournament winner Goryachkina lost her last game to Mariya Muzychuk. | Photo: FIDE.

Goryachkina Wins Women's Candidates’ Ahead Of Anna Muzychuk

JovankaHouska
IM JovankaHouska
|
22 | Chess.com News

Aleksandra Goryachkina of Russia had already secured victory at the FIDE women's candidates' tournament and so her final round loss was easy to handle. Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine finished in second place, 1.5 points behind the winner.

It became clear as the 2019 women's candidates drew to its close that one has got to have drive and guts to compete in this gruelling event. 14 rounds and 20 days of sheer mental exertion caused the participants and their seconds to grumble: "It's too long!"

At the end, one of the participants declared that she didn't want to see any more chess for a while; she wanted to shut the laptop, go home and be a mother. A far cry from the days when chess was played at the opera!

Although the tournament had lost a little of the thrill, now it was clear that Goryachkina had clinched the victory, there were still some loose ends to tie up. 

For starters there was the small matter of who would finish in second place. After round 12, there were two main contenders for the 40,000 euro second prize, grandmasters Anna Muzychuk, on 6.5 points nursing a narrow half point lead over Kateryna Lagno. Behind them was a cluster of participants on 5.5 points. On paper, it looked like this race could be tantalisingly close but the reality was something completely different.

Round 13: Who will win the second prize....?  

  • Goryachkina, Aleksandra - Dzagnidze, Nana ½-½
  • Gunina, Valentina - Muzychuk, Anna 0-1
  • Kosteniuk, Alexandra - Muzychuk, Mariya 1-0
  • Lagno, Kateryna - Tan, Zhongyi ½-½

Goryachkina's game with Nana Dzagnidze resembled a day at the office for the tournament winner—shake hands, play a solid opening as White, make a threefold repetition, move to 9.5 points. Easy.

That was good news for Goryachkina and bad news for Dzagnidze, who was now completely out of contention for second place.

Goryachkina enjoying a joke with her father and trainer Yuri Goryachkin. | Photo: FIDE.
Goryachkina enjoying a joke with her father and trainer Yuri Goryachkin. | Photo: FIDE.

It was left to the other participants to evoke the chess magic, and only one person answered the call. Alexandra Kosteniuk had had a disappointing tournament by her own admission and her disastrous score with the black pieces had left her languishing in eighth place. Playing with the white pieces in a c3 Sicilian versus Mariya Muzychuk, Kosteniuk produced what might have been one of the finest games of the tournament.

Please take my rook with check! Kosteniuk played one of the finest attacks of the tournament. | Photo: FIDE.
Please take my rook with check! Kosteniuk played one of the finest attacks of the tournament. | Photo: FIDE.

A disastrous start to the tournament meant that Anna Muzychuk had thought that she would start and finish in last place. It had been through sheer determination that she had recovered her composure to climb through the ranks up to second place.

A victory in the 13th round with the black pieces over Valentina Gunina was also a great piece of opening preparation and secured her second place. The questionable 11.Nh7?! left Gunina lost straight out of the opening with the white pieces. A game for fans of the Two Knights variation to study.

Anna Muzychuk, specialist in dangerous off-beat lines. | Photo: FIDE.
Anna Muzychuk, specialist in dangerous off-beat lines. | Photo: FIDE.

For Russian fans, Lagno's bid for second place ended just how it started with yet another draw. This time though, she could count her lucky stars that she managed to escape clutching a half point after over-pressing with White against Tan Zhongyi.

As Lagno later lamented, she had not managed to win a single game with the white pieces. "If you don't win a game with white, you cannot win the tournament."

"I was surviving in many games" Once again, Lagno, withstood the pressure to survive against Tan Zhongyi. | Photo: FIDE.

Round 14: The big money round

  • Muzychuk, Mariya Goryachkina, Aleksandra 1-0
  • Tan, Zhongyi  Gunina, Valentina 1-0 
  • Muzychuk, Anna Kosteniuk, Alexandra ½-½
  • Lagno, Kateryna - Dzagnidze, Nana ½-½

In 2018, the new FIDE administration made a pledge to support professional women's chess and it's fair to say they remained true to their word. As they say, money isn't everything... but it ranks right up there with oxygen!

It is not often one sees a 200,000 euro prize fund for a women's tournament or top prizes ranging from 50,000, 40,000 and 30,000 down to 8,000 euro. However you want to look at it, money was always going to be a big incentive. 

Goryachkina stumbles

The "sensation" of the round was Mariya Muzychuk's win over tournament winner Goryachkina. Not wanting the indignity of finishing last, Muzychuk had felt obliged to go all out for a battle. It was some excellent preparation against Goryachkina's Caro-Kann that gave Muzychuk a devastatingly beautiful victory.

Mariya Muzychuk can't wait to get to her game - she has something crafty prepared! Anna Muzychuk and Pavel Eljanov in the background. | Photo: FIDE.
Mariya Muzychuk can't wait to get to her game - she has something crafty prepared! Anna Muzychuk and Pavel Eljanov in the background. | Photo: FIDE.

It was also good news for Muzychuk's older sister Anna, who secured second place by drawing fairly quickly against with Kosteniuk. It was "a safe opening for a safe game."

A game that finished
A game that finished "logically." Anna Muzychuk vs Alexandra Kosteniuk. | Photo: FIDE.

It was also a solid opening in the duel between Dzagnidze and Lagno. Dzagnidze, with the white pieces got a comfortable edge out of the opening but never found the way to organise an effective breakthrough. The game soon ended in a very peaceful draw. 

An exhausting final round encounter for Dzagnidze and Lagno (standing). | Photo: FIDE.
An exhausting final round encounter for Dzagnidze and Lagno (standing). | Photo: FIDE.

The longest and most tumultuous encounter of the round had to be between Tan playing white against Gunina. The latter had been struggling throughout the game but had finally equalised into a queen and rook endgame.

All was relatively well until Gunina carelessly forgot about king safety and blundered into a deadly attack. This victory pushed Tan up the rankings into shared third place, whilst Gunina was left languishing at the bottom.

Tan Zhongyi, confident in her own instincts found a deadly mating attack to punish Valentina Gunina. | Photo: FIDE.
Tan Zhongyi, confident in her own instincts found a deadly mating attack to punish Valentina Gunina. | Photo: FIDE.

FIDE Women's Candidates' Tournament | Final Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1 Goryachkina,Aleksandra 2522 2662 ½½ ½0 ½1 11 9.5/14
2 Muzychuk,Anna 2539 2580 ½½ ½1 ½½ 01 ½½ 11 8.0/14
3 Tan,Zhongyi 2513 2534 ½0 ½1 ½1 01 7.0/14 47.75
4 Lagno,Kateryna 2554 2529 ½0 ½½ ½½ ½½ 7.0/14 47
5 Muzychuk,Mariya 2563 2503 ½1 ½½ ½1 10 ½0 6.5/14 48.25
6 Dzagnidze,Nana 2510 2510 10 ½0 ½½ 01 10 6.5/14 44.5
7 Kosteniuk,Alexandra 2546 2480 ½0 ½½ ½0 ½½ 01 10 01 6.0/14
8 Gunina,Valentina 2506 2460 00 00 10 ½½ ½1 01 10 5.5/14

The women's candidates' tournament had a record prize fund of 200,000 euros with a first prize of 50,000 euros. The tournament venue was the Nogai Hotel in Kazan, Russia. Goryachkina is now the new challenger of Women's World Champion Ju Wenjun, with half a million euros at stake in the title match.


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