News / Munich

Who Dares Wins

IM Michael Rahal (Munich, Germany) – February 5th 2023
Photo: David Llada

“Who Dares Wins” is a motto made popular in the English-speaking world by the British Special Air Service, although the expression appears in a medieval Arabic book of fairy tales. Even though her opening strategy today was somewhat dubious, Alexandra Kosteniuk notched up her fourth win in a row by defeating Tan Zhongyi in a roller-coaster game with massive risks.

“I’m not satisfied with my play but of course it’s better to have 4/4 instead of 0/4. However, I still need to improve a lot” were Kosteniuk’s first impressions after the game.
The ceremonial first move was made by Jolly Kunjappu, a performance artist and philosopher. Born in Chennai, Jolly has been living in Munich for about 50 years and is a huge chess fan. He advanced 1.c4 on the Humpy Koneru vs Anna Muzychuk board, but the pawn was immediately returned to the original square and Humpy decided on 1.d4 for the game.
The live exposure of the Munich leg of the Gran Prix is exceeding expectations. Every afternoon more than 5000 concurrent viewers are signing in on the different Twitch and YouTube channels covering the event, to follow the games and grandmaster commentary.
GM Paehtz, Elisabeth vs GM Harika, Dronavalli – (0,5–0,5)

Harika has traditionally been a tough opponent for Paehtz: in 29 games she has emerged victorious in 9 encounters. Paehtz went for the Four Knights Opening, choosing the side-line 8.Bd2 instead of the mainstream 8.exd5 in an attempt to surprise her opponent.

However, Harika came to the game well-prepared and confidently blitzed out her opening moves, equalising comfortably coming out of the opening. Although there was still a lot to play for, a draw was agreed on move 25 after a three-fold move repetition, allowing both players to keep their scores on 50%.
IM Kashlinskaya, Alina vs GM Abdumalik, Zhansaya (0.5-0.5)

A very close match-up, Kashlinskaya and Abdumalik have played 9 games between each other before with a very small score advantage for the Kazakhstan player.

Playing the opening fast, they went for a fashionable line of the Semi-Slav defence, in which Black gets the pair of bishops in exchange for some small pawn weaknesses. With precise defensive play, Abdumalik kept the balance in the position and, after some simplifications, a draw was agreed on move 32.

Zhansaya Abdumalik was kind enough to come to the press centre after the game to give us her impressions on the first four rounds of the tournament.
WGM Zhu, Jiner vs GM Muzychuk, Mariya (0-1)

In high spirits after her excellent win against Abdumalik in the previous round, Zhu Jiner opened today’s game with 1.e4. Previously, Zhu Jiner and Mariya Muzychuk had only faced each other three times with three consecutive draws.

Muzychuk went for the Sicilian Defence and soon the Marozcy structure appeared on the board, not for the first time in the tournament. Zhu Jiner enjoyed a small space advantage going into the middlegame and when Muzychuk lashed out with 22…f5, Zhu Jiner was prepared to exchange off the rooks and go into a slightly better endgame.
By means of a timely pawn sacrifice, Zhu Jiner increased the pressure on the dark squares but Mariya defended tenaciously. Unfortunately, the Chinese top female player crossed the line– the plan with a5 to create a passed pawn is just too ambitious - and ultimately had to concede defeat.

After the game, Mariya Muzychuk analysed her victory with commentator WIM Veronika Exler for the online audience.

GM Kosteniuk, Alexandra vs GM Tan, Zhongyi (1-0)

The rivalry between these two players is unparallel. According to my database, they have disputed 26 games in classical, rapid and blitz, with a total score of 9 wins a piece and 8 draws.

Playing with the White pieces and a full point ahead in the standings, Kosteniuk went for the Alapin c3 variation against Tan Zhongyi’s favourite Hyper-Accelerated Dragon defence. Muddling the waters, she tried to off-balance her opponent, straying away from theory as early as move six.

However, the plan backfired. Tan Zhongyi’s played for the initiative, winning a pawn going into the middlegame. But she didn’t follow-up correctly and Kosteniuk got back into the game. The key moment was move 23.
In a difficult position, Tan Zhongyi used up 26 of the 36 minutes left on her clock and blundered with 23…a5 allowing Kosteniuk’s attack to crash through.
GM Koneru, Humpy vs GM Muzychuk, Anna (1-0)

A very equal match-up. In 38 games, they stand 8 wins for Humpy against 9 wins for Muzychuk, having tied the rest.

In a side-line of the Grunfeld Defence, Humpy bravely sacrificed a pawn on b2, no doubt part of her opening preparation for the game. “I had prepared this pawn sacrifice for the game” Humpy explained to Press Officer IM Michael Rahal.

The idea took Muzychuk totally by surprise: she used up more than half an hour to calculate the consequences of the capture. Finally, she went ahead, winning the pawn, only to give it back a few moves later to reduce the positional pressure.

However, Humpy found an interesting tactical resource to complicate the game and, already very low on time, Muzychuk lost her way and ended up with two pieces for a rook but many pawns behind. Humpy wrapped up the game with ease, scoring her first win in the event.
WGM Wagner, Dinara vs GM Dzagnidze, Nana (0.5-0.5)

A very interesting game, based on the fact that this is the first time that they have played together. Wagner hasn’t started the tournament in good form, although she has had some opportunities to score in the first rounds.

In an open Catalan variation, Wagner decided to sacrifice her d4 pawn for the initiative. It’s hard to say if it was specific opening preparation or a spur-of-the-moment decision. There was certainly enough positional compensation, but probably nothing more.

From then on it was a very solid game: opposite-coloured bishops with a rook and a few pawns each, totally equal but still with marginal chances of a win in the case of a mistake. A draw was agreed on move 63.

Standings after Round 4

The fifth round will be played on Monday, February 6th at 3pm at the Kempinski Hotel venue. The games can be followed live with commentary by GM Stefan Kindermann and WIM Veronika Exler on the FIDE Youtube channel.