Fighting Spirit to the End: Lagno Defeats Vaishali

Fighting Spirit to the End: Lagno Defeats Vaishali


GM Kateryna Lagno defeated IM Vaishali R in the semifinals of the FIDE 2022 Women’s Speed Chess Championship on Wednesday. Lagno’s experience faced off against Vaishali’s fighting spirit to produce a match of many dynamic battles. 

Blitz 5|1: Lagno 6-3 Vaishali

Lagno won the first game convincingly, gaining powerful pressure on the queenside and center along with a commanding time edge of over two minutes. 

She turned this into a four-game winning streak, keeping Vaishali under pressure on the board and clock each game.

Vaishali broke the streak with her first victory in game five, gaining the initiative by planting her knight on Lagno’s side of the board, on the potent d3-square. 

Lagno’s effective usage of time was essential to the lead she gained. She often had minutes left while Vaishali had just seconds, leading to better tactical awareness in the final moves. In the last game of the segment, Lagno managed to first trap Vaishali’s rook and then queen while Vaishali faced a time scramble. 

Blitz 3|1:  Lagno 5-3 Vaishali

Vaishali kicked off the 3+1 segment full of fight, gaining an extra pawn and building up pressure against Lagno’s kingside. The game culminated when she tried the adventurous g4!? to break open the f-file for her doubled queen and rook. 

In Game 3, Vaishali conjured up a fierce attack and looked to be on the verge of checkmating when Lagno snuck out with a perpetual check.

This was a recurring theme for Vaishali, who often gained an attack or better position, but didn’t always convert those edges into victories. Contrastingly, Lagno frequently managed to turn her advantages into points on the scoreboard. In game four, Lagno discovers a sneaky piece trap in a position that was previously slightly better for Vaishali. 

Commentator Kosteniuk summed it up: “The match is going well for Lagno. She saves difficult positions. She sometimes turns things around in time trouble despite Vaishali pressing in many positions.”

In the face of these missed opportunities, Vaishali continued to find opportunities to press with her attacking style. In game five, she built up a potent offensive in a sharp Sicilian and earned her only victory of the segment. 

Still, Lagno increased her lead to five points lead heading into the bullet segment. 

Bullet 1|1:  Lagno 4.5-4.5 Vaishali

In the face of the significant score deficit, Vaishali persisted in comeback attempts. She won a powerful attacking game in round two. 

Lagno continued to seize critical victories with insightful play and excellent time management, gradually growing her lead on the scoreboard. Game four was a great example of this. Lagno won cleanly with a superior position, a material advantage, and a time edge.

Even after Lagno had essentially clinched the match with a seven-point lead and less than 10 minutes left on the match clock, the players continued to provide thrilling battles. Can you find the mating net that Vaishali conjured out of nowhere in game six?

In the end, the players tied in the bullet segment, and Lagno clinched the overall match with a five-point lead. 

In the post-match interview, Lagno shared her improvement-focused mindset: “The first impression I have right now is I need to solve more tactics, more and more. Yes, I won the match, but it wasn’t easy. I was ahead all the match, but I had some problems. I missed some tricks. It was a tough match.”

I need to solve more tactics, more and more.

—Kateryna Lagno

Lagno earned $6,384.62 in prize money for her victory while Vaishali took home $1,615.38 for her efforts.

All Games – Semifinals

Women’s Speed Chess Championship Bracket

The FIDE 2022 Women’s Speed Chess Championship is an online event where titled women players play a series of blitz and bullet matches for a share of the $70,000 prize fund. The qualifiers for the event took place on May 24-27, and the main event started on June 13.

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