Perfect Start for Hou Yifan at Khanty-Mansiysk Women GP

Perfect Start for Hou Yifan at Khanty-Mansiysk Women GP

| 18 | Chess Event Coverage

Hou Yifan had a most convincing start at the Women's Grand Prix in Khanty-Mansiysk. The reigning World Champion won her first three games, against Tatiana KosintsevaTuvshintugs Batchimeg and Nana Dzagnidze, in impressive style. After three rounds Zhao Xue and Anna Muzychuk are in shared second place with 2.0/3.

Photos © Kirill Merkuriev courtesy of FIDE

Less than two weeks after the Candidates’ Tournament finished in Khanty-Mansiysk, the local organizers have welcomed a whole new group of top players in the Ugra Chess Academy. For the fourth leg of the 2013-2014 FIDE Women's Grand Prix series, some of the strongest female players made the long trip to Siberia: Hou Yifan and Zhao Xue of China, Anna Muzychuk of Slovenia, Kateryna Lagno, Anna Ushenina of Ukraine, Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria, Tatiana Kosintseva, Alexandra Kosteniuk and Olga Girya of Russia, Nana Dzagnidze of Georgia, Nafisa Muminova of Uzbekistan and Tuvshintugs Batchimeg of Mongolia.

Like all Women's Grand Prix events, this is a round robin over 11 rounds. The time control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes to finish the game and 30 seconds increment per move from the start.

The prize fund is 75,000 Euros. It is split 60,000 Euros as direct prize money for the tournament, and 15,000 Euros added to the accumulated prize fund for the players at the end of the series. The winner of Grand Prix in Khanty-Mansiysk receives 10,000 Euros.

After this event, two more Grand Prixs will be held this year. The winner of the overall Grand Prix qualifies for a world title match which is scheduled for the third quarter of 2015.

After three rounds Hou Yifan is the clear leader, having won all here games thus far. In the first round she played against the youngest of the two Kosintseva sisters, Tatiana. That game actually saw one or two inaccuracies from the Chinese, but as soon as she (finally) won that pawn, she had no mercy.

The next game was a walk-over. The opening went OK for the lady with the most difficult name in the field, Tuvshintugs Batchimeg, but three dubious moves in a row and she was dead lost. Last year, in Geneva, the Mongolian scored a sensational win against Hou, but this time it went differently.

Hou Yifan's third game was a lovely attack that was quickly decisive. Taking with the c-pawn on c6 didn't make life easier for Dzagnidze, and after ...g6 instead of ...h6 it was quickly over. Who doesn't like to play such a game?

It seems that female players almost always show lots of fighting spirit - perhaps even more than their male colleagues. After three rounds the drawing percentage is as low as 33.3%. Here's a tough battle between two of the Russian participants, who played an ancient opening line:

Women Grand Prix, Khanty-Mansiysk | Round 3 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 Pts SB
1 Hou Yifan 2618 3262 1 1 1 3.0/3
2 Zhao Xue 2552 2571 0 1 1 2.0/3 3.00
3 Muzychuk,A 2560 2598 ½ ½ 1 2.0/3 1.50
4 Muminova,N 2321 2501 1 0 ½ 1.5/3 2.75
5 Lagno,K 2543 2521 0 ½ 1 1.5/3 2.50
6 Ushenina,A 2501 2446 1 0 ½ 1.5/3 2.00
7 Stefanova,A 2489 2526 0 1 ½ 1.5/3 2.00
8 Kosintseva,T 2496 2495 0 1 ½ 1.5/3 1.25
9 Girya,O 2450 2471 ½ 0 1 1.5/3 1.25
10 Kosteniuk,A 2527 2375 ½ ½ 0 1.0/3
11 Dzagnidze,N 2550 2264 0 ½ 0 0.5/3 1.00
12 Batchimeg,T 2340 2279 0 0 ½ 0.5/3 0.75

The Women Grand Prix is a 12-player round robin. The dates are April 9th-21st, 2014 with rest days on the 13th and the 18th. Each day the rounds start at 15:00 local time which is 11:00 CET, 05:00 EST and 02:00 PST. | Games via to TWIC 

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

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