Round 6: Ju Wenjun becomes the sole leader

The game between Ju Wenjun (2576) Alina Kashlinskaya (2487) was a French Winawer with 7. Qg4 Kf8. The World Champion wasted no time on launching the attack on the kingside, as it is the standard plan in this variation. Alina looked for counterplay on the queenside, grabbed two pawns, and tried to create some threats, but in the end, she had to sacrifice her queen for minor pieces. It was an ingenious try, but the main problem for the Russian player was that her h8 rook was trapped for most of the game and came into play when it was already too late. Ju Wenjun played the attack with precision and scored a point that takes her to the top of the table.
Valentina Gunina (2502) drops from the co-leadership, after losing against Elisabeth Paethz (2479). Gunina run into the home preparation of Paehtz in the Two Knights Variation of the Caro-Kann Defense, where the German IM sacrificed a pawn on move 11 in order to open lines. When Valentina was starting to be short of time, Paehtz added more fuel to the fire with an exchange sacrifice that, even if not completely correct according to the engines, it was a great practical decision. Just when frustration was starting to build up for her, Elisabeth got her first victory in the tournament to reach a plus score (3½/6).
Quietly, the World Championship Challenger Aleksandra Goryachkina (2564) climbed to the second position in the standings, thanks to a victory against Harika Dronavalli (2503). In one of the most exciting games of the round, the Indian player met the Saemisch Attack in the King's Indian Defense with an aggressive attack on the kingside. Goryachkina reacted opening up the center right on time, and managed to bring a pawn to the seventh rank that gave her a decisive advantage.
Pia Cramling's (2487) tried to avoid the main lines in the Catalan Defence against Indian top seed Koneru Humpy (2560), but the position transposed into a reverse Benoni Defense, where black managed to increase the positional edge gradually. In order to keep the material balance, Pia was forced to concede the e-column and that, with an exposed king, was a decisive factor. The Swedish legend had to resign on move 40.
Kateryna Lagno (2545) played the Gruenfeld defence against Antoaneta Stefanova (2491). White came out from the opening with the upper hand, but from then on, Stefanova was outplayed by Lagno, especially in the transition to the endgame. The Russian player took the whole point and is still unbeaten in the tournament.

The only draw of the round happened in the game of Alexandra Kosteniuk (2495) and Marie Sebag (2450). Kosteniuk achieved a slightly better position in a Neo-Gruenfeld Defense, and with precise play, she could have gotten a nice edge. But after a couple of inaccuracies, the position came to a drawish rook endgame, and the players agreed to a draw on move 30.

Standings after 6 rounds:
Today, September 17th, is a rest day. The seventh-round games will be played on September 18, at 3 pm local time (GMT +3).

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Text: Keti Tsatsalashvili
Photos: David Llada