Rising From A Loss: Lei Evens The Score

Rising From A Loss: Lei Evens The Score


GM Lei Tingjie retaliated vs. GM Tan Zhongyi, winning game two of the final of the FIDE Women’s Candidates Tournament 2022-2023 on Thursday. Rising from the ashes of her own time trouble blunder in game one, Lei didn’t hesitate when Tan made a mistake on move 71, finding a series of only winning moves in the opposite-color bishop ending. With this victory, Lei has leveled the score to 1-1. 

Game three is on Friday, March 31, 2023, starting at 12 a.m. Pacific / 9:00 CET.

As round two began, one question permeated: How would Lei respond to the disappointment and pressure of a round one loss? With no rest day to help reset, would she be able to bounce back psychologically the very next day?

Lei answered with a superb display of fight. With her own first venture with the white pieces, Lei opened with a sharp variation in the Queen’s Gambit Accepted, and the game soon veered into less sailed waters. In the arising complex middlegame, Lei pressed on all sides of the board, gaining the bishop pair and a small edge.

Yet again, Tan proved to be a formidable opponent, defending actively and accurately. With pawns left on only the kingside, the game looked to be nearing a peaceful result. 

After 70 well-played moves and over five hours into the game―in a notoriously drawish opposite-color bishop ending―Tan played an inaccuracy. She moved her bishop to the wrong square to defend one of her last remaining pawns. The tragedy of chess is: Sometimes you can play many strong moves, and one mistake is all it takes for your chances to slip away. 

With only a minute left on her clock, Lei was ready to seize her opportunity, quickly and confidently capitalizing on her newfound winning position.

Check out the full analysis of this complicated struggle, annotated by GM Rafael Leitao

Now with an even score, the match begins anew, but with the momentum on Lei’s side. In game three, we get to see how each player handles this reverse of fortunes. Will Lei expand on her momentum? How will Tan choose to fight back after her loss?

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.

The final is a six-game match between GMs Lei Tingjie and Tan Zhongyi from March 29-April 5. The prize fund is 110,000 euros. 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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