Humpy Koneru Wins Skolkovo Grand Prix

In her first tournament back after a two year layoff, Humpy Koneru won the 2019 Skolkovo Women’s Grand Prix with a score of 8/11, half a point ahead of Women’s World Champion Ju Wenjun and her newly crowned Challenger Aleksandra Goryachkina. While Humpy led after nine rounds, she had to navigate two tricky pairings in the final rounds. In Round 10 she faced the dangerous Kateryna Lagno, and the game entered the well-studied waters of the Petroff Defense, an opening that appeared in eight of the 66 games in Skolkovo.

Lagno deviated from the Round 8 Paehtz-Humpy encounter with 14.Be2, but she played passively, and soon the players found a way to repeat moves and split the point.
[pgn]

[Event "Skolkovo WGP 2019"]
[Site "Skolkovo RUS"]
[Date "2019.09.21"]
[Round "10.6"]
[White "Lagno, Kateryna"]
[Black "Koneru, Humpy"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C42"]
[WhiteElo "2545"]
[BlackElo "2560"]
[Annotator "Hartmann,John"]
[PlyCount "46"]
[EventDate "2019.09.11"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Bf5 7. O-O Be7 8.
Re1 O-O 9. c4 Nc6 10. cxd5 Qxd5 11. Nc3 Nxc3 12. bxc3 Rae8 (12... Bxd3 13. Qxd3
Rfe8 14. Bf4 Bd6 15. Ng5 g6 16. Ne4 Re6 17. Nxd6 cxd6 18. Rxe6 fxe6 19. Rb1 {
1-0 (36) Lagno,K (2545)-Ju Wenjun (2576) Skolkovo RUS 2019}) 13. Bf4 Bd8 14.
Be2 (14. c4 Qd7 15. Bxf5 Qxf5 16. Be3 Bf6 17. Rb1 b6 18. Qa4 Qd7 19. Rbd1 Re7
20. Kf1 {0-1 (45) Paehtz,E (2479)-Koneru,H (2560) Skolkovo RUS 2019}) 14... Be4
15. Qd2 Qa5 16. Rad1 Be7 17. Be3 h6 18. Qb2 Ba3 19. Qb3 Bd5 20. Qc2 Be4 21. Qb3
Bd5 22. Qc2 Be4 23. Qb3 Bd5 1/2-1/2

[/pgn]

Trailing by half a point, it appeared that Ju Wenjun might be able to close the gap with a win over Goryachkina, but something went wrong in a theoretically winning rook and pawn ending, resulting in a draw.
[pgn]

[Event "Skolkovo WGP 2019"]
[Site "Skolkovo RUS"]
[Date "2019.09.21"]
[Round "10.1"]
[White "Ju Wenjun"]
[Black "Goryachkina, Aleksandra"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A20"]
[WhiteElo "2576"]
[BlackElo "2564"]
[Annotator "Hartmann,John"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/1p2k3/8/6rp/8/1P3K1P/P7/3R4 w - - 0 37"]
[PlyCount "48"]
[EventDate "2019.09.11"]

{[#]} 37. Rd4 {This should be a win for White.} Ke6 38. h4 Ra5 39. a4 $2 (39.
Rd2 {keeps the advantage}) 39... b5 $1 40. axb5 (40. b4 Rxa4 41. Ke4 {is of
course no better} Ra3 42. Rd5 Rb3 43. Rxb5 Rg3 44. Rxh5 Rg4+ 45. Ke3 Rxb4)
40... Rxb5 {This should be drawn. Dvoretsky gives the rule of thumb that "if
one or two files separate pawns of the stronger side, the position is most
often a draw." (DEM 183) Here, of course, the gap between the pawns is much
greater. The active black rook is also a positive sign for Black.} 41. b4 Rf5+
42. Ke2 Ke5 43. Rc4 Kd6 44. Ke3 Rf1 45. Ke4 Rf2 46. Rd4+ Kc6 (46... Ke6 $11)
47. Ke5 Kb5 48. Rf4 Rg2 $8 {Black keeps the king cutoff from the h-pawn.} 49.
Kf6 Rg1 $2 {Goryachkina wrongly gives up the pawn.} (49... Rg4 $1 50. Rf5+ (50.
Rxg4 $4 hxg4 $19) 50... Kb6 $1 51. Rxh5 Rxb4 $11) (49... Kb6 $1 50. Rf5 (50.
Ke6 Rg4 51. Rxg4 (51. Kf5 Rg2) 51... hxg4 52. h5 g3 53. h6 g2 54. h7 g1=Q 55.
h8=Q $11) (50. Ke5 Rg1 (50... Rg4 $4 51. Rxg4 hxg4 52. Kf4 $18)) 50... Rg4 51.
Rxh5 Rxb4 $11) 50. Rf5+ Kxb4 51. Rxh5 Rh1 52. Rh8 Rf1+ 53. Ke5 Re1+ 54. Kf4
Rf1+ 55. Kg3 Kc5 56. h5 Rh1 57. Kg4 $2 (57. h6 $1 Kc6 58. Kg4 Rg1+ 59. Kf5 Rf1+
(59... Rh1 60. Kg6) 60. Kg6 Rg1+ 61. Kh7 $18 {and the White king finds shelter
from the checks.}) 57... Kd6 58. h6 Ke7 59. h7 (59. Kg5 Kf7 60. Ra8 Ke6 61. Ra7
Rg1+ $11) 59... Kf7 60. Ra8 Rxh7 1/2-1/2

[/pgn]
Koneru - Ju Wenjun (photo Boris Dolmatovsky)
This set up a dramatic final round pairing between Humpy and Ju, where a win for the Chinese player would leapfrog her into first place. On her 26th move Ju chose to play “for two results” with 26…Qxa3, but after the precise 27.Qxd3 a4 28.Qa6! Humpy solved her remaining problems and the game was drawn. The result gave Humpy first place and €15,000 along with 160 Grand Prix points. Ju takes home €11,000 and 120 points.
[pgn]

[Event "Skolkovo WGP 2019"]
[Site "Skolkovo RUS"]
[Date "2019.09.22"]
[Round "11"]
[White "Koneru, Humpy"]
[Black "Ju Wenjun"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D38"]
[WhiteElo "2560"]
[BlackElo "2576"]
[PlyCount "70"]
[EventDate "2019.09.11"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bxf6 Qxf6 7. Qb3 c5 8.
cxd5 exd5 9. a3 Bxc3+ 10. Qxc3 b6 11. e3 Nd7 12. Be2 O-O 13. O-O Bb7 14. Bb5
Rfd8 15. Rfc1 c4 16. Bxd7 Rxd7 17. b3 Rc8 18. Nd2 cxb3 19. Qxb3 Rdc7 20. Qb2
Qd6 21. Nb3 Ba6 22. Rxc7 Rxc7 23. h3 Bd3 24. Rc1 Rxc1+ 25. Qxc1 a5 26. Qc3 Qxa3
27. Qxd3 a4 28. Qa6 Kh7 29. Nc5 bxc5 30. dxc5 d4 31. exd4 Qa1+ 32. Kh2 Qxd4 33.
c6 Qf4+ 34. Kg1 Qc1+ 35. Kh2 Qf4+ 1/2-1/2

[/pgn]
Aleksandra Goryachkina (photo Boris Dolmatovsky)
Goryachkina defeated Pia Cramling in the final round to claim her share of second place. She also won €11,000 and 120 Grand Prix points for her efforts.
[pgn]

[Event "Skolkovo WGP 2019"]
[Site "Skolkovo RUS"]
[Date "2019.09.22"]
[Round "11"]
[White "Goryachkina, Aleksandra"]
[Black "Cramling, Pia"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E11"]
[WhiteElo "2564"]
[BlackElo "2487"]
[PlyCount "159"]
[EventDate "2019.09.11"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. Bd2 a5 5. g3 O-O 6. Bg2 d5 7. O-O c6 8. Qb3
Be7 9. Rc1 Nbd7 10. a4 Ne4 11. Be1 f5 12. Nc3 Bf6 13. e3 Kh8 14. Qc2 Qe7 15.
Ne2 g5 16. Rab1 Nd6 17. b3 Bg7 18. Bc3 Ne4 19. Bb2 Nb8 20. Ne5 Na6 21. f3 Nb4
22. Qd1 Nd6 23. Ba3 dxc4 24. bxc4 c5 25. Nd3 b6 26. dxc5 bxc5 27. Nxc5 Rd8 28.
Nd3 Nxc4 29. Rxc4 Ba6 30. Bxb4 axb4 31. Qb3 Bxc4 32. Qxc4 Rxa4 33. Kf2 Qd6 34.
Rxb4 Ra3 35. Ndc1 Raa8 36. Rb3 Rac8 37. Qb5 Rb8 38. Qd3 Qxd3 39. Rxd3 Rdc8 40.
Nb3 Kg8 41. Nbd4 Kf7 42. Rd2 Rb6 43. Ra2 Rc7 44. f4 g4 45. Ra5 Bf6 46. Ra2 Bg7
47. Bf1 Bf6 48. Nc2 Rb2 49. Rxb2 Bxb2 50. Ned4 Bxd4 51. Nxd4 Kf6 52. h3 h5 53.
h4 Rc3 54. Bb5 Ke7 55. Ke2 Rc1 56. Ba4 Rg1 57. Kf2 Rb1 58. Bb3 Rb2+ 59. Kf1
Rb1+ 60. Ke2 Rb2+ 61. Kd3 Rg2 62. Bxe6 Kf6 63. Bc8 Rxg3 64. Nxf5 Rh3 65. Ke4
Rh2 66. Bd7 Kf7 67. Ke5 Rh3 68. Be6+ Kf8 69. Ke4 Rh1 70. Kd3 Rh2 71. Bd5 Ke8
72. Ng7+ Ke7 73. Nxh5 Rxh4 74. Ng3 Rh3 75. Nf1 Kf6 76. Bg2 Rh7 77. Ke2 Ra7 78.
Kf2 Kg6 79. Kg3 Kh5 80. Nh2 1-0

[/pgn]
The Skolkovo Grand Prix was the first of four events in the Women’s FIDE Grand Prix Series. Remaining events will be held in Monaco (December 2-15), Lausanne (March 1-14), and Sardinia (May 2-15). Full details and schedules, including player lists, are available at the Women’s Grand Prix website.

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