Almira Skripchenko surges ahead | FIDE Women’s Grand Prix Batumi 2016

The fifth round of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix in Batumi was played after the rest day and four games ended with decisive results.

Almira Skripchenko took advantage of the white pieces to defeat Bela Khotenashvili and single out on the top of the standings with 3.5/5 points.

Russians Olga Girya and Valentina Gunina won against Elina Danielian and Lela Javakhishvili respectively to join Anna Muzychuk on the shared second place. It is interesting that Girya and Gunina had no draws so far of the tournament.

Zhao Xue scored her first win by outplaying Nana Dzagnidze.

Almira Skripchenko surges ahead 2

Skripchenko Almira – Khotenashvili Bela 1-0

This was the main line of the Caro-Kann with lots of refined maneuvers in the opening. Khotenashvili snatched a pawn but this allowed Skripchenko to run a forced line that left black’s pawn shelter in ruins.

Objectively, black was doing fine, but she cracked under pressure and gave up the exchange with 28…Rxd4?. She missed a solid 28…Qb4 that would have repelled the attack.

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White consolidated the advantage, traded the queens and proceeded to win the game.

Almira Skripchenko surges ahead 4

Girya Olga – Danielian Elina 1-0

The Classical line of the Nimzo Indian defence quickly developed into a wild affair with forced variations and hanging pieces. When the dust cleared white held two bishops against rook and two pawns.

Black immediately erred by giving an unnecessary check, which would had better served as a threat in other lines. The neat 22.Qe5+ ruined black’s castle and pieces’ coordination.

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In the later course of the game white minor pieces proved to be very effective against the weakened black king and Girya duly delivered the full point.

Gunina Valentina – Javakhishvili Lela 1-0

The Lasker variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined became very popular after Anand used it to defeat Topalov in the last game of the World Championship Match.

After some inspired play in the opening Javakhishvili assumed a strong initiative. With a series of principled moves she reached better middlegame. But just as she won a pawn, she made an incomprehensible mistake and blundered a whole piece.

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Being similarly shocked, Gunina proceeded poorly and dropped several pawns. Black reached full compensation with rook and four pawns against rook, knight and only one pawn. But then Gunina became brilliant, winning one by one of the black pawns, while safeguarding her own trump – the d-pawn.

White won the last pawn on move 71 and immediately in the next black resigned.

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Zhao Xue – Dzagnidze Nana 1-0

In the rare line of the Reti system black carelessly fell under attack in the early stages of the game. Zhao Xue however missed the crushing 12.Nxh7!, the point being that black collapses after 17.Bc4.

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White still retained some advantage and thanks to the threats on the open files and diagonal she finally netted a pawn. Later she also won the exchange and eventually converted into victory.

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Muzychyk Anna – Kosteniuk Alexandra

Black was well prepared to meet the sharp line in the Richter-Rauzer Sicilian. The queens and dark-squared bishops danced around the board until white made a small inacurracy with 20.Rhf1, giving away the second pawn.

White relied on 24.Rf7!?, claiming an exchange, but black was still in command. Quite unexpectadly, Kosteniuk repeated the moves to sign a draw on move 30.

Almira Skripchenko surges ahead 10

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Batsiashvili Nino – Muzychuk Mariya

Much more entertainment was seen in this draw. With a series of good positional moves white established a central outpost and seized the advantage.

After one slip of the former world champion white was expected to quickly wrap up the game. But then a series of mistakes by both players followed and around the time control black already returned both pawns.

White tried to play on but she was finally forced to split the point on move 57.

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