30 July, 2013

European Women's Individual Championship : half-time

Seven rounds played so far in this tournament and quite a few upsets seen along the way.

In joint first at the moment are Thanh Trang Hoang and Valentina Gunina ( of Hungary and Russia  respectively ) who have 6 points apiece.

The next 20 players are separated by only 1 point and include 9 of the top 10 initial seeds, so I guess that means that we are probably in for an interesting finish.

Top seed Anna Muzychuk didn't have a fast start, but she hasn't lost a game yet, and with 5,5 points is sitting in the peleton waiting for her chance

Similarly, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Kateryna Lagno, Nana Dzagnidze and Viktorija Cmilyte are GMs sitting just off the pace, with  Pia Cramling ( a long-standing Swedish GM and former European Individual winner) tucked in behind them on 4,5 points.

Lisa Schut ( of the Netherlands ) is placed 21st, at this point, a good achievement so far.

All her points are from wins, and watching the games lives its great to see a strong fighting spirit and determination, especially in the last two games, when facing strong opposition.

Here in round 6, as Black she is winning, and takes the natural decision ( from my viewpoint) of capturing the Queen with Rxd7, but this gives White a great opportunity to play for a draw with continuous checks...

36. Rxd5 Rxd7
...until this position, which is given as drawn by the analysis on the tournament site !

43. Rg2
Luckily, such draws need accurate play, and 10 moves later,determination pays off, and the win is in the bag !

In round 7 as White in a Sicilian there was a tight game that eventually saw a great sequence based around multiple threats on the e-file and 7th Rank.

Its probably not forced, but it was good to see Black gradually surrender her pieces, such that even the move Rd8 ( apparently pinning the white Queen against the King, has an excellent riposte !

33. Re7+ ! wins

Although the opposition in the final games will be stronger, I hope she maintains her good results and has a good place to show for it. Next game, round 8, is against Alexsandra Goryachkina, who, amazingly, became a WGM at the age of 13, last year ! )

Watching these games live, its gratifying to see players making similar  mistakes  as I see in TL/amateur chess( but maybe at a higher level ) . Time trouble especially, is the great leveller, no matter what your rating !

Another interesting point to note is the preponderance of players from the ex-Soviet or Eastern Bloc countries.

It depends which countries you consider in this, but taking the strictest view, then of the 168 players, I count only 18 from "West European" countries, which is half the number from Russia alone, with even Georgia sending 15 players !

Like any statistic, it can mean exactly what you want it to....