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Chess Classic Mainz 2009 (CCM9)
6. Chess960 Rapid World Championship
GM L. Aronian, GM V. Bologan, GM H. Nakamura, GM S. Movsesian







     











  






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Chess Classic

Kosteniuk wins convincingly, Lahno qualifies safely

30.07.2008 - The second half of the 2. FiNet Chess 960 Rapid World Championship turned out to be a rather one-sided affair. Alexandra Kosteniuk and Kateryna Lahno, who were leading after the first half, had a simple recipe to qualify for the final: They both won in rounds four and five to safely qualify. While Natalia Zhukova still had trouble with the clock she also seemed to be a bit shaken after her disastrous start into the tournament. Viktorija Cmylite tried hard but without success.

Round four indicated that Alexandra Kosteniuk and Kateryna Lahno used the insights they had gained yesterday to good effect. In contrast to her rather lucky win in the first round, this time Lahno deservedly won against Natalia Zhukova by exploiting some inaccuracies of her opponent to unleash a ferocious attack leading to a quick win.

Meanwhile Alexandra Kosteniuk grabbed a pawn offered to her by Viktorija Cmilyte right after the opening. Whether Cmilyte blundered or sacrificed is hard to tell but she never had compensation for the pawn. In the further course of the game Kosteniuk hold on to her material advantage and finally reached a theoretically easily won endgame K+R+b- and g –pawn against K+R. However, with the seconds ticking away on the clock theoretical wins can prove difficult to play. But after a couple of inaccuracies Kosteniuk finally managed to get her rook behind her b-pawn after which the game did not last much longer.

Alexandra Kosteniuk

Thus, in round five Cmilyte had to win against Lahno to have any hopes for the final. With this in mind she proceeded rather aggressively with Black and decided to give a pawn for some initiative. However, in a crucial position Lahno found a convincing tactical counterblow which extinguished all initiative Black had and secured her a material advantage and the better position, which she duly won.

Natalia Zhukova, however, found out once more that Lady Luck did not smile upon her in this tournament. Against Alexandra Kosteniuk she again had a promising position but again spoiled it in time trouble. And though Kosteniuk suddenly showed nerves and did everything to make things difficult for herself, in the end Zhukova was the unlucky one. Kosteniuk won and with one round to go she and Kateryna Lahno safely qualified for the final.

Thus, the games of the final round – Kosteniuk against Lahno and Cmilyte against Zhukova – turned out to be a prelude for tomorrow’s final. While practically without importance these games were psychologically important because their result might well set the tone for the final.

Kateryna Lahno

And as it turned out, Kosteniuk had the better of it. She won against Lahno to win the tournament with a convincing score of 5.5 out of six and will hope to carry her good form into the final. She will definitely not lack the necessary motivation. In the press conference she said: “I enjoy Chess960 very much. You do not have to learn theory, you can just play.” And of course, it’s easy to enjoy a game in which you are winning.

However, despite her somewhat unfortunate result – or, as she put at the press conference “This is not my tournament” – Natalia Zhukova seems to have taken a liking to Chess960. After all, she decided to take part in the 7. FiNet Chess960 Open, which will start tomorrow. Though she managed to draw her last round game against Cmilyte things can only get better tomorrow. And with five more Chess960 games of the open she might be quite ready to play for third place against Cmilyte.

Preliminary result of the 2. FiNet Chess960 Women's Rapid World Championship

All games (PGN)

All games (CBV)

Johannes Fischer

Published by Harry Schaack / Mike Rosa

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