News / Munich

Missed opportunities in Munich

IM Michael Rahal (Munich, Germany) – February 6th 2023

Time trouble is causing havoc in the Munich leg of the 2022-2023 Women’s Grand Prix, which is being disputed every afternoon in the central Kempinski hotel. Today’s fifth round saw many missed opportunities in several games: incredible turn-arounds and lost positions that suddenly became won.

The ceremonial first move, performed on the Harika-Kosteniuk board, was made by Daniel Stock, Head of Sports of Munich TV. A few minutes earlier, Stock interviewed top German female player Elisabeth Paehtz at the board, a rare occurrence in tournament chess, but a great opportunity to spread the word on the television.
GM Abdumalik, Zhansaya vs GM Paehtz, Elisabeth (0.5-0.5)

Not even an hour had gone by and the first game had already finished. In a very theoretical Sicilian Sveshnikov variation, they went down a path that has been tread extensively in the past.

More specifically, they followed a previous 2015 game between elite grandmasters Lenier Dominguez and Alexander Grischuk, which also ended in a draw by move repetition.
GM Tan, Zhongyi (2) vs WGM Wagner, Dinara (0.5)

In their third game together – 2-0 for Tan Zhongyi previously – the former Chinese Women’s World Champion went for the Catalan Opening, catching Wagner by surprise.

In a highly theoretical position, the German number two, five-times Russian Junior Chess Champion, spent nearly 45 minutes – practically half her total thinking time for the game - on her eighth move. Soon she fell into a difficult position, both on the board and on the clock.

With less than 3 minutes on the clock – 52 minutes for her opponent – Wagner reached a critical position in the game: Tan Zhongyi sacrificed a pawn for the attack but Wagner reacted magnificently on the defence. Suddenly, she had a chance to save the game.

“I have to fix my time management for the second half of the tournament” Wagner explained to press officer IM Michael Rahal after the game. “I was trying to calculate several moves, but 45 minutes is just too much”.
GM Harika, Dronavalli vs GM Kosteniuk, Alexandra (0.5-0.5)

Without any doubt, Harika and Kosteniuk have one of the largest playing histories between female players: 92 games and counting. Most of them are blitz and rapid – many of them online - and the score is really close: Kosteniuk outscores Harika by 30 wins to 23 with 39 draws.

In today’s encounter, Harika went for the Exchange Variation in the Slav defence, a solid line that Harika had only used a couple of times many years ago. Leaving the opening, the former World Under20 champion from India was already leading the dance, enjoying the bishop pair and a slightly better pawn structure.

Harika kept piling up the pressure with pins and threats and achieved a winning position. “I was winning for sure with 46.Qe1 (instead of 46.Qc3). It was my first idea and I just don’t understand why I changed my mind”. Kosteniuk held on tenaciously and received her prize: a draw by move repetition.
GM Muzychuk, Anna vs WGM Zhu, Jiner (0.5-0.5)

After being defeated by her sister yesterday, the former World U14 Chess champion had the chance for redemption this afternoon. Playing with Black, Zhu Jiner repeated the Four Knights Sicilian variation that she used successfully against Abdumalik in the third round.

Muzychuk opted for a different line, involving a pawn sacrifice, that wasn’t accepted, and already on move eight the position was completely new. With precise play, Zhu Jiner maintained the balance going into the middlegame: the position was equal, but unbalanced, as each player had a pawn majority on one side of the board.

A draw was agreed on move 38 after a threefold repetition. In her post-game interview, Anna Muzychuk was happy with the draw even though she thought she had missed some chances.
GM Dzagnidze, Nana vs GM Koneru, Humpy (0.5-0.5)

Another classic match-up here in Munich. According to my database, Dzagnidze and Humpy have faced each other on 57 occasions, with a very close score: 22 wins for Humpy and 18 for Dzagnidze, with 17 draws.

For this game, playing with Black, Humpy chose the dangerous Kramnik-Shirov Counterattack in the English Opening. Visibly surprised, Dzagnidze went into the tank for 15 minutes and blundered twice: first with 10.d3 and on the next move with 11.bxa5 (11.b5 was necessary).

Humpy quickly obtained a dangerous initiative on the queenside and, according to the engines, surprisingly enough Dzagnidze was already in big trouble before move fifteen.

She won a pawn for hardly any compensation, but her technique was off-point. By means of an elegant defensive exchange sacrifice Dzagnidze was able to hold the position and force a draw. In her post-game interview, Dzagnidze explained that she was very surprised on how well Humpy had played the opening.
GM Muzychuk, Mariya vs IM Kashlinskaya, Alina (0-1)

In high spirits after yesterday’s round, the former Women’s World Champion opened the game with the popular Italian Opening. Kashlinskaya, Poland’s number one female player since May 2022, equalised with a timely …d5 break, but soon fell into a difficult position after miscalculating the defence of her e5 pawn.

A few moves later Kashlinskaya was in dire straits: the thrust 29.g4 would have won on the spot. But winning won positions is always difficult. Approaching time trouble, Muzychuk blundered heavily and Kashlinskaya found a nice tactic, turning the tables completely.
With precise play, she liquidated into a clearly won endgame, taking home the full point and reaching 50% in the tournament.

“Obviously I am very happy with the win although I was quite lucky today. I have a bet with my husband – elite GM Radosław Wojtaszek – that whenever I win, I have to buy dessert so we shall have a nice dinner tonight” a happy Kashlinskaya explained in her post-game interview.

Standings after Round 5

The players will enjoy a free day tomorrow and they will participate in the traditional Munich charity chess gala in the evening.

The sixth round will be played on Wednesday, February 8th 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.