Lei Tingjie advances to the female candidates final
A Grünfeld gone wrong
Most of the excitement in Pool A of the female contestants was seen during the first six days of action, when Lei Tingjie and Anna Muzychuk won matches played against Mariya Muzychuk and Humpy Koneru, respectively.
The final of this group (only half of the Candidates field took part in this stage) was rather a tense and balanced competition, with rather certain draws in the first three games. The fourth encounter, however, saw Lei prevail on the white side of a Grünfeld to secure a place in the tournament final.
The second runner-up will be chosen by December 11. Aleksandra Goryachkina, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Kateryna Lagno and Tan Zhongyi are the participants in Pool B, which will be a similar knockout. will take place in Khiva, Uzbekistan.
Lei Tingjie face Anna Muzychuk | Photo: Michal Walusza
In the game, things quickly started to go wrong for Muzychuk, as white had better minor pieces and threatened to advance their connected center pawns out of the opening.
Trying to prevent White’s c-pawn from reaching the fourth rank, Muzychuk opted for 19…Rfc8 after thinking for more than ten minutes. At that point, 19…Nc8 was his best chance to hold the balance, with the intention of redirecting the knight to d6 — but it’s never easy to play such backward moves so early. in the game.
The problem with choosing Muzychuk is that after 20.Bg4, black will allow the c-pawn to advance or forgo an exchange. In fact, this last alternative, with 20…Nc4, is the computer’s suggestion — but again, it’s hard to make such concessions early on.
Black therefore opted for 20…Kd8and white was quick to consolidate his structural advantage, pushing his pawns to c4 and g4, creating strong connections on both sides of the board.
Seven moves later, Lei had made significant progress, and here caught a pawn with 27.Bxe7, gaining material while Black’s army is still uncoordinated. The flashy 27.Ke6 also won in this position — after 27…fxe6 28.Qxe6, White would wreak havoc on the kingside along the light squares!
The text move was also a winner, however, and Lei eventually reached a bishop vs. knight ending with two more pawns.
Blanc had no problem in the technical phase. The Chinese Grandmaster thus obtained the decisive victory which earned her a ticket to the final match of the female candidates.
The knockout tournament took place at the luxurious Hotel Hermitage in Monte Carlo | Photo: Michal Walusza
All the games
The closed Sicilian offers White an easy-to-understand set of plans, the possibility of a kingside attack, and little danger of being overwhelmed by tactics in the opening.