Strong Start Stefanova

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More and more strong closed tournaments, women only, are organized these days. After the ?Ѭ??Ö?? Bankas?Ѭ± Atat?ɬºrk International Women Masters, held in Istanbul in March of this year, there's now the even stronger North Urals Cup in Krasnoturinsk.

The North Urals Cup takes place in Krasnoturinsk (Russia), from July 26 to August 3, 2008. Krasnoturyinsk (Russian: ?ê?°?ë‚Ǩ?ê¬??ë??ê¬??ê¬æ?ë‚Äö?ë?í?ë‚Ǩ?ë?í?ê¬??ê¬??ë??ê¬?) is a town in Sverdlovsk Oblast, located on the Turya River.

With Xu Yuhua (China), Humpy Koneru (India), Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria), Pia Cramling (Sweden), Marie Sebag (France), Anna Muzychuk (Slovenia), Anna Ushenina (Ukraine) and Natalya Pogonina (Russia), the North Urals Cup is the strongest women's tournament ever.

After three rounds, former world champion Antoaneta Stefanova from Bulgaria is leading with 2.5 points out of 3 fighting rounds. Half of the first twelve games have ended in decisive results, and WIM Anna Burtasova, who is the Press Attach?ɬ© of the tournament, isn't far from the truth when she writes

?¢‚Ǩ?ìNorth Urals Cup?¢‚Ǩ? is famous for uncompromising battles beginning with the very first move. That is what attracts attention to women chess; girls do not save energy, they are full of will-to-win spirit in any position in the tournament table and with any opponent. This time the leading chess players of the world decided not to take some time to get into trim and began tense struggle.


Not that draws are unexciting by definition, but still, here you can replay the decisive games so far:



[TABLE=331]

Here's a transcription of the press conference with Stefanova's coach Vladimir Georgiev, taken after the first round, provided by WIM Anna Burtasova: - Vladimir today Antoaneta played black with the rating-leader of the tournament. What instructions did you give before the match? V.: Antoaneta plays all matches with the intention to win and it doesn't matter whether she plays white or black and no matter with whom she plays. The same was with this match. - But after the drawing procedure during the opening ceremony it seemed that Antoaneta was not so satisfied that she had to play black one more match when she got the 6th number. V.: Yes, of course she was a bit upset. However to play black is a little more difficult. But I can say that in my opinion she plays black even better than white. Today's match confirmed it. . - Did she manage to use the prepared variant in this match? V.: We examined the variant that happened in the match. But the great attention we paid to variants that appeared in games of the Indian player more often. That is why we can say that it was she who surprised us in the opening. But later she lost assurance and began to think too long. Most likely she chose this position because there is one match in which white won confidently. But Antoaneta doesn't have to play the same way. - Vladimir is it so difficult to be the coach of women? ?ê‚Äô.: To be the coach is not so easy. The most important is trust and mutual understanding. It is exactly what we have with Antoaneta. Even if I give her some instructions just before the game she will follow it. In general I think that there are not so many talented coaches in the world. Chess players of post soviet countries have some advantage; there are more serious specialists here. - Do you train somebody apart from Stefanova? V.: I worked as a coach in America. But at that time Antoaneta lost 100 points of her rating. I decided to come back to Europe and now I train only her. She managed to get the rating back and I think we will have the success. We will go together to the World Championship that starts in August in Nalchik. - Antoaneta has the active style of chess playing. What is your opinion as a coach is there any connection between the person's character and way of chess playing? V.: It seems to me that there is a connection here. Active chess player has also active way of life. And who prefers quiet life without risks plays chess the same way.

We have permission to show the (great) photos from the official website, taken by Vadim Smalkov. Here are portraits of the participants:

Xu Yuhua (China)

Marie Sebag (France)

Humpy Koneru (India)

Pia Cramling (Sweden)

Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria)

Anna Muzychuk (Slovenia)

Anna Ushenina (Ukraine)

Natalya Pogonina (Russia)


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