Round 10: Koneru heads into the final round on top of the leaderboard

Koneru Humpy made a quick draw and guaranteed herself a place in the top three. Ju Wenjun missed a chance to defeat her Challenger Aleksandra Goryachkina in a theoretical endgame. The last round will be decisive, as Koneru and Ju are facing each other.

The sole leader of the tournament, Humpy Koneru, and the two times European Women Champion, Kateryna Lagno, made draw just in 23 moves. Lagno used her "main weapon" again: the Petrov's Defense. Koneru successfully managed to avoid her opponent's home preparation; she surprised her with a queen's transfer to the edge of the board, from where it supported her own bishops and guaranteed the draw.
The first clash in classical chess between the current World Champion Ju Wenjun and her Challenger Aleksandra Goryachkina ended in a draw. Ju chose 1.c4, the English Opening, and obtained a significant advantage in the middle game; made a powerful tactical blow with 22.f4 and went to the endgame with an extra pawn. The Chinese player demonstrated an excellent technique in the rook-endgame; however, she missed her best chance on move 57 in a theoretical position, and let the victory slip. This encounter was just a warm up for the upcoming Women's World Chess Championship match, which will be split between Shanghai, China, and in Vladivostok, Russia, during January 2020.
Alina Kashlinskaya won a nice game against the former World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova. The Russian went for a Queens Gambit Accepted, and then offered her rival a "poisoned pawn" on b7 that the Bulgarian accepted. In return, Alina got important central squares, better development, and got the white king trapped in the centre. Again in this tournament, Stefanova fell into time trouble and she failed to find the best defence, resigning on move 31.

Valentina Gunina outplayed her opponent Harika Dronavalli in a Classical Queen's Gambit. Harika's pawn structure went from "hanging pawns" to an "isolated pawn", and Gunina played precisely to exploit this weakness.

Pia Cramling made yet another blunder in this tournament: on this occasion, she resigned prematurely thinking that she was losing a piece after Alexandra Kosteniuk's 34…Qa1 move. At first sight, it seems like the Knight on a6 is trapped; however, Cramling could defence her piece with the indirect attack 35.b4. The little trick was enough to have kept the balance, according to engines.
German number one female player Elisabeth Paethz split the point with two time French women Champion Marie Sebag. A very sharp position arose from the modern version (4.Ba4) of the Moscow variation. Sebag started a queenside attack and gained space as well as an advantage. However, Paethz reacted just on time, sacrificing an exchange in order to destroy the black king's defences, and get away with a perpetual check.

Standings after 10 rounds:

The last will be played on September 22, one hour earlier than the usual schedule: at 1 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