The Women’s World Cup final sees a face-off between Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria and Anna Ushenina of the Ukraine. The first two games have ended in a draw. Stefanova is a former world champion and higher rated and therefore, the clear favourite. However, Ushenina has shown excellent nerves and good tactical awareness to get this far.
Meanwhile in the Tashkent Grand Prix, “Weird Al” Morozevic regained the lead with a sixth round win against Lenier Dominguez after a loss to Ponomariov pegged him back. Moro has 4 from 6, with a +3,-1,=2 scoreline. Second spot is shared by Mamedaryov, Kasimdzhanov, Karjakin and Caruana with 3.5 each. This is the halfway stage in the 12-player round robin and it’s been combative so far with a lot of sharp play. Apart from Moro’s tactical creativity, one feature has been several unbalanced endgames.
The London Classic is due to start this weekend and that has a stellar field in Carlsen, Aronyan, Kramnik, Anand, Nakamura, Judit Polgar, Michael Adams, Luke McShane and Gawain Jones. The 11-player field gives each participant a free day in the round robin, which has Bilbao scoring. Apart from Jones (2644), everyone is rated 2700-plus.
Carlsen would have to be hot favourite. Not only is the highest-rated; he also loves soccer-style scoring. Anand’s form remains a question-mark — he hasn’t had a decent tournament result in a long time. There will also be attention on Judit Polgar, who’s playing after a long gap. Bilbao rules favour taking risks. The winner probably needs to target a plus three score or better.
The diagram WHITE TO PLAY, (Morozevich Vs Dominguez, Tashkent GP 2012) is an interesting example of a positional pawn sacrifice. Does better activity or coordination offer compensation for the deficit? This is one of the more difficult judgement calls.
Black is hitting the e4 pawn with smooth development after 16. Bd3 b5 so white would look to disrupt this. One way is 16. Qc1!? Rxe4 17. Bd3 Re8 18. Rfe1. Instead Moro tried 16.Bh4!? Now the engines suggest a counter-sacrifice with 16.--Rxe4 17. Bd3 Rxh4!? 18. Nxh4 c4 19. Bc2 and ideas like b5, Nc5 etc. This is quite unclear.
Black made an outright error with 16.--- Bh6? 17.Bc4 Rxe4 18.Bg3 Qb6. Now white’s better if he takes material with 19. Bxb8 Rxc4 20. Rfe1 Nxb8 21. Re8+ but he played the much stronger 19.Qa4! Re7 20.Bd6! Qd8
White’s material edge is guaranteed but he’s going to eliminate the active pieces rather than the inactive ones. The game concluded with 21.Bxe7 Qxe7 22.Rfe1 Qf8 23.Rxd7! b5 24.Bxf7+ Kg7 25.Qd1 Bxd7 26.Qxd7 Rd8 27.Qc7 Rc8 28.Qb7 Rb8 29.Qe7 (1-0).
Devangshu Datta is an internationally rated chess and correspondence chess player