Goryachkina Forces Draw, Eliminates Kosteniuk

Goryachkina Forces Draw, Eliminates Kosteniuk


GM Aleksandra Goryachkina eliminated GM Alexandra Kosteniuk from the 2022-23 FIDE Women’s Candidates Tournament by securing a draw in the fourth game from a better position. After four draws, the match between GM Tan Zhongyi and GM Kateryna Lagno will be decided in a tiebreak starting at 2 a.m. Pacific / 11:00 CET on Sunday, December 4.

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It was a logical choice for Kosteniuk to start her must-win game with 1…g6, as the Modern Defense is known as one of the best ways to get an unbalanced position. Goryachkina, on her turn, played super-healthy chess, grabbed space in the center, and prevented her opponent from playing the typical King’s Indian 16…f5 break. But Kosteniuk did it anyway!

The pawn sacrifice was interesting, but only if Black had combined it with 17…cxd5 to open up the center. As it went, Kosteniuk didn’t get proper compensation and according to the engine she was even close to losing, but Goryachkina decided to play it safe and liquidate to an endgame that almost by force led to (at least) a draw. A good start for the 24-year-old GM from Orsk, who hasn’t been in trouble in any of her games so far. (Annotations by GM Dejan Bojkov will be added soon.)

Goryachkina Kosteniuk Women Candidates 2022
Goryachkina Kosteniuk Women Candidates 2022

Lagno and Tan also drew their fourth game, which was a Sicilian Dragon. “The game was very complex,” said Lagno. “First of all, she surprised me in the opening and I just wanted to play something new. The game was very complicated and I couldn’t figure out who was better and why.”

It looks like both players had a chance somewhere for more than equality, but in the end Tan’s excellent idea 21…d4! was a safe way to shut down the game. Tomorrow, rapid and blitz will be played to determine who will face Goryachkina in the semifinals.

Lagno Tan Women Candidates
Top Uzbek GMs Nodirbek Yakubboev (left) and Shamsiddin Vokhidov each play a move for both Lagno (left) and Tan, but not the moves that would be played in the game. Photo: Timur Sattarov/FIDE.

The 2022-23 Women’s Candidates Tournament is an elite event featuring eight top female players, who compete in a knockout format for a share of the €250,000 prize fund and the right to play in the Women’s World Championship match against Women’s World Champion Ju Wenjun.

Pool A was won by GM Lei TingjiePool B takes place November 29-December 11, 2022 in Khiva, Uzbekistan. The prize fund is 70,000 euros, while another 110,000 will be at stake in next year’s final. The time control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move one. A draw offer before move 40 is not allowed.

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