Two Rounds to Play in Skolkovo Grand Prix

Humpy Koneru  is alone in first place at the 2019 FIDE Grand Prix in Skolkovo, Russia, with two rounds to play. She defeated Valentina Gunina in today’s ninth round, while Women’s World Champion Ju Wenjun, who lead coming into the day, fell to Kateryna Lagno.

Ju has been the form player for much of the event, and in the last few rounds she and Koneru have been pulling away from the rest of the field. In Friday’s game with Lagno she played a variation in the Petroff that had appeared  twice in her practice, once against Lagno in 2017 and once against Elisabeth Paehtz in this tournament, and this time Lagno was able to eke out an advantage.

After Ju’s 23…e5?! Lagno found a string of concrete moves that put the World Champion on the defensive, and she took the full point in 36 moves.

Humpy rose to the challenge of Gunina’s Blumenfeld Gambit and, after sopping up Black’s pressure, converted her exchange-up position into a winning rook and pawn ending. Gunina resinged on her 43rd move.

With just a half point separating Ju and Koneru, everything is still to play for. Key pairings include a Round 11 battle between Women’s World Champion Ju and her Challenger Goryachkina, who currently is in third place, and a critical final round matchup between Ju and Koneru.

Complete pairings for the final two rounds:

Saturday – starts at 15:00 Moscow / 8:00 EDT

Ju, Wenjun – Goryachkina, Aleksandra
Cramling, Pia – Kosteniuk, Alexandra
Stefanova, Antoaneta – Kashlinskaya, Alina
Paehtz, Elisabeth – Sebag, Marie
Gunina, Valentina – Harika, Dronavalli
Lagno, Kateryna – Koneru, Humpy

Sunday – starts at 13:00 Moscow / 6:00 EDT

Koneru, Humpy – Ju, Wenjun
Harika, Dronavalli – Lagno, Kateryna
Sebag, Marie – Gunina, Valentina
Kashlinskaya, Alina – Paehtz, Elisabeth
Kosteniuk, Alexandra – Stefanova, Antoaneta
Goryachkina, Aleksandra – Cramling, Pia

Live coverage in both English and Russian is available at the FIDE YouTube channel, and complete details can be found at the official event website.

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