Women's World Ch. R3: Ex-World Champions Out, Humpy Still Perfect

Women's World Ch. R3: Ex-World Champions Out, Humpy Still Perfect

| 16 | Chess Event Coverage

In the third round of the Women's World Championship in Sochi, Russia ex-world champions GM Alexandra Kosteniuk and GM Antoaneta Stefanova were among the eliminated players. Top seed GM Humpy Koneru started with six straight wins.

Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

And then there were only eight. Over the last three days GM Humpy Koneru, WGM Natalija Pogonina, IM Meri Arabidze, GM Harika Dronavalli, GM Pia Cramling, GM Zhao Xue and both GM Anna and IM Mariya Muzychuk qualified for the quarterfinals in Sochi.

The biggest names who had to leave were GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, GM Valentina Gunina, GM Antoaneta Stefanova and GM Viktorija Cmilyte.

The third round in action. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

The top seed is still on a perfect score: yet again GM Humpy Koneru won both classical games. In the third round she was too strong for IM Alisa Galliamova. After winning the first game rather easily, the Indian grandmaster used a motif reminiscent of what GM Serper wrote about last Sunday:

Humpy Koneru: six straight victories. | Photo Vladimir Barsky.

Ex-world champion GM Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria lost her white game against the youngest and lowest-rated of the two Muzychuk sisters. Mariya, however, is getting closer and closer to her sister Anna's rating!

White had a dominating position but after she allowed a positional exchange sacrifice, the table turned.

Mariya Muzychuk through to the quarterfinals. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

GM Anna Muzychuk also won her black game to decide her match with IM Lela Javakhishvili. Her compatriot GM Bela Khotenashvili was also eliminated, by GM Zhao Xue, the only Chinese player left in the field. White found a nice tactic to finish off her attack -- can you find it too?

Anna Muzychuk also reaches the fourth round. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

GM Valentina Gunina, surely one of the favorites to win the event, didn't make it to the fourth round. Something went clearly wrong in the opening as she lost without a chance against GM Pia Cramling in the first game. The Swedish grandmaster drew her black game after 117 moves the next day.

51-year-old Pia Cramling eliminates one of the favorites. | Photo Nastja Karlovich.

Things were looking grim for GM Natalija Pogonina after she lost the first classical game to GM Marie SebagIn the following position, the French GM didn't play the best line, but surely would have seen the combination if someone had whispered in her ear: “White to play and win!”

A missed opportunity but a win anyway for Sebag. | Photo Nastja Karlovich.

Pogonina came back with a good win the next day: 

Round 3 Playoffs

Three matches needed a playoff on Wednesday: Sebag vs Pogonina, Kosteniuk-Harika and Arbidze-Cmilyte. Remarkably, all three matches were decided in the first two rapid games.

Wednesday's playoffs. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

It turned out to be the last day for GM Viktorija Cmilyte, who was surprisingly knocked out by the rather unknown Georgian player IM Meri Arabidze. The talented 21-year-old outplayed her opponent as Black in the first game:

For a long time, Arabidze was doing absolutely fine as White, but deep down in the ending Cmilyte managed to create some chances. She even won a pawn, but the resulting bishop ending turned out to be a draw by one tempo.

Update: as captain_kool pointed out in the comments, there was one moment when Cmilyte could have won. That's included in the annotations now:

IM Meri Arabidze, the surprise of the tournament. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

GM Harika Dronavalli did the same: she won the first game convincingly and held the draw in the second. This meant that the tournament said goodbye to the last ex-world champion: GM Alexandra Kosteniuk.

Harika Dronavalli knocks out Alexandra Kosteniuk. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

Held in Sochi, the tournament started with 10 players from Russia. Only one of them reached the quarterfinals: WGM Natalija Pogonina. She won both her games against GM Marie Sebag, whose position in the first rapid game collapsed rather suddenly:

The start of the tiebreak between Sebag and Pogonina. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

In the second game Pogonina did the same as the day before: she sacrificed an exchange and got a strong bishop and two pawns in return. Sebag missed one chance, and eventually lost on time in a lost position.

Natalija Pogonina, now the only Russian player in the field | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

2015 Women's World Championship | Round 3 Results

Name vs Name Score Playoff
Koneru, H (IND, 2581) - Galliamova,A (RUS, 2484) 2-0
Sebag,M (FRA, 2482) - Pogonina,N (RUS, 2456) 1-1 0-2
Muzychuk,A (UKR,  2552) - Javakhishvili,L (GEO, 2481) 1.5-0.5
Arabidze,M (GEO, 2374) - Cmilyte,V (LTU, 2530) 1-1 1.5-0.5
Kosteniuk,A (RUS, 2529) - Harika,D (IND, 2492) 1-1 0.5-1.5
Cramling,P (SWE, 2495) - Gunina,V (RUS, 2528) 1.5-0.5
Zhao,X (CHN, 2527) - Khotenashvili,B (GEO, 2513) 1.5-0.5
Stefanova,A (BUL, 2552) - Muzychuk,M (UKR, 2526) 0.5-1.5

2015 Women's World Championship | Round 4 Pairings

Name vs Name Score Playoff
Koneru,H (IND, 2581) - Muzychuk,M (UKR, 2526)
Zhao,X (CHN, 2527) - Pogonina,N (RUS, 2456)
Muzychuk,A (UKR, 2552) - Cramling,P (SWE, 2495)
Arabidze,M (GEO, 2374) - Harika,D (IND, 2492)

The Women's World Championship takes place March 17-April 7 in Sochi, Russia. World Champion GM Hou Yifan is not defending her title; she took part in the Hawaii Chess Festival instead.

The total prize fund of the championship is U.S. $450,000. Every player gets $3,750, those who make it to round two get $5,500, for round three it is $8,000, round four $12,000, round five (semifinals) $20,000, the silver medalist $30,000, and the winner $60,000.

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