Hou Yifan Leads Lopota Grand Prix After Round 4
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Whereas the “open” Grand Prix Series seems to be in trouble, the 2013-2014 Women's Grand Prix is well underway and has reached its fifth (of a total of six) event. In Lopota, Georgia it is again the reigning World Champion, Hou Yifan of China, who had the best start of all.
The new Grand Prix Series was supposed to start in the spring of 2014, but so far things have been very quiet. Azeri media have mentioned that the first edition is supposed to be held in Baku (the same city where the very first GP tournament was held in 2008) in October of this year, but as we speak the FIDE Calendar has no location for it (and different dates). A second tournament is scheduled for Tashkent, by the way.
For the strongest female players in the world things look much brighter. Another Women's Grand Prix took off a few days go in Lopota, Georgia and many of the world's best players are among the participants. After Geneva, Dilijan and Tashkent in 2013 and Khanty-Mansiysk in 2014, it is the fifth in the series - the final one will be held 24 August-7 September, 2014 in Erdenet, Mongolia.
The tournament is held closeby the beautiful Lopota Lake in the Lopota gorge, located in the far north-eastern part of the Kakheti region in Georgia. It borders to the Russian North Caucasian of Dagestan.
The official website's gallery folder with pictures of the Lopota surroundings is appropriately called “Paradise”
It's hard to believe that the first hit after a Google search for this stunningly beautiful area is a very negative one. It is known as the “Lopota incident”, a Georgian anti-insurgency operation in August 2012. According to Wikipedia Georgian special forces engaged an unidentified paramilitary group of about 17 persons which had allegedly taken several people hostage. During the operation, that began on August 28, 2012, at least 14 people were killed and at least six wounded in a firefight on August 29.
But back to the chess. The tournament is again a round robin with twelve players. The prize fund is 60,000 Euros, from which 10,000 will go to the winner. But it's obviously also about gaining GP points - in the overall standings Anna Muzychuk is leading, while Humpy Koneru is second.
Each player plays in four of the six tournaments, and her three best results count for the overall standings. The winner of the Women's Grand Prix plays the winner of the World Cup (who by then is considered the world champion!).
Hou Yifan won the previous GP, held in Khanty-Mansiysk shortly after the Candidates’ Tournament, and she is also in clear first place after four rounds in Lopota. In the first round her opponent went for her king, but miscalculated:
The 20-year-old Chinese student of international relations was the only player to reach 2.0/2 with the following win. In heavy time trouble the winner of the 2013 Geneva Grand Prix fell for a devlish trap:
In the third round Hou Yifan was held to a draw by Humpy Koneru, but in round 4 she continued winning, against one of the other Chinese participants:
Another player from China is one of three on 3.0/4: Ju Wenjun. She won an interesting game in round 3 against Khotenashvili:
Anna Muzychuk, who recently started playing for the Ukrainian Chess Federation again, drew two games, won one and lost one. Against Kosteniuk she showed to have excellent knowledge of a more than a century old line of the Petroff Defense:
Lopota GP 2014 | Round 4 Standings
The Women Grand Prix takes place 19 June - 1 July in Lopota, Georgia with rest days on 23 & 28 June. Thanks to press officer in Lopota, Alina l'Ami. All photos courtesy of the official website | Games via TWIC