Round 9: Humpy Koneru wins
and overtakes Ju Wenjun

Humpy Koneru wins her fourth game in a row and takes the lead at Skolkovo Women's Grand Prix, after the previous leader Ju Wenjun is defeated by Kateryna Lagno and drops to the second position.

Kateryna Lagno defeated the tournament's leader Ju Wenjun, in their first clash since their World Championship match played last November. The Chinese went for a Petrov's Defense, in which Lagno managed to surprise her opponent with 20.h4. The critical moment appeared when Ju Wenjun broke up in the centre with 23…e5, a dubious move that allowed Lagno to gain the initiative. The weaknesses in Ju Wenjun's camp made her kind very vulnerable, and Lagno played with a firm hand to convert her advantage into a mating attack.
Humpy Koneru accepted Valentina Gunina's Blumenfeld Gambit, giving up in return the right to castle. However, Koneru came up with an imaginative plan to activate her trapped rook, with h4 and Rh3. The position was very unbalanced but about equal, when Gunina made a blunder with 17…c4, and as a result, she was forced to sacrifice an exchange. With precise play, Humpy converted the material advantage into a full point and became the new leader of the tournament with 7 points out of 9 games (+5 =4).

A very sharp position in the French Defense arose in the Russian derby between Aleksandra Goryachkina and Alexandra Kosteniuk. The former World Champion, with white, obtained a significant advantage out of the opening. However, in the middlegame, Kosteniuk allowed her young opponent to obtain counterplay on the kingside. Goryachkina didn't let the opportunity slip and she obtained a material advantage, which later on converted into a victory. With 6 points, she is clear third, just behind the leaders.
The game between Alina Kashlinskaya and Pia Cramling took a dramatic turn. The game started with 1.d4 and laster transposed into a Hedgehog Sicilian. Cramling achieved a small edge, despite playing with black, and held the initiative for an extended period. However, under time pressure, she blundered a piece with 40…Bh4, and resigned two moves later.

Harika Dronavalli, from India, and Elisabeth Paethz, from Germany, went for a hedgehog set up in their game. They agreed on a draw for threefold repetition on move 25. Another draw was played between the French Marie Sebag and the Bulgarian Antoaneta Stefanova. Sebag chose the Ruy Lopez Opening; however, the former World Champion equalized the position with relative ease. The game ended in a draw in 55 moves.
Standings after 9 rounds:
The tenth-round will be played on September 21, at 3 pm local time (GMT +3).

Spectators can follow the games with English and Russian commentaries:

Official website:

A gallery with photos in high resolution is at the disposal of the press on the official FIDE Flickr account.

Text: Keti Tsatsalashvili
Photos: David Llada