Yifan Hou With Lavish Lead in Monte Carlo

HouYifan In round 10 of the FIDE Women's Grand Prix in Monaco, the favorite and tournament leader, Yifan Hou, faced off against one of her top competitors, Mariya Muzychuk. This game served as a prequel to the 2016 Women’s World Championship, where the two will square off in a match for the title: Muzychuk as the defending champion and Hou as the challenger. Additionally, the game would ultimately decide who would win the tournament, stage one of the Women’s Grand Prix. The result was an overwhelming, 29 move victory as black by Hou, who is currently ranked number 72 in the world overall.
[pgn]
[White "Muzychuk, Mariya (UKR)"]
[Black "Hou, Yifan (CHN)"]
[Result "0-1"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Nd7 4. O-O a6 5. Bd3 Ngf6 6. c4 g6 7. Nc3 Bg7 8. Re1
Ng4 9. Bf1 Nge5 10. d3 O-O 11. Be3 Nxf3+ 12. Qxf3 Ne5 13. Qd1 Nc6 14. Qd2 Rb8
15. Ne2 e5 16. Nc3 Be6 17. Nd5 b5 18. b3 f5 19. g3 f4 20. gxf4 exf4 21. Nxf4
Bg4 22. Bg2 Ne5 23. h3 Nf3+ 24. Bxf3 Bxf3 25. Ne6 Qh4 26. Ng5 h6 27. Nxf3 Rxf3
28. d4 Rxh3 29. Kf1 Qg4 0-1[/pgn]
After this, Hou was 1.5 points ahead of the field, completely uncatchable by her competitors. She finished with 9 points out of 11, clinching victory by a full 2 point margin. Additionally, her performance rating throughout the tournament was an impressive 2766. Humpy Koneru and Mariya Muzychuk led the rest of the pack with 7 points, tying for second place. One of the most exciting games of the tournament was Muzychuk’s 20 move victory against Nana Dzagnidze.

Tactic

Nana Dzagnidze vs. Mariya Muzychuk, Round 2

Black to move.

In the very sharp Grunfeld Defense, Muzychuk emerged with a lead in development and opened up the center, chasing after White’s king. Dzagnidze responded by castling by hand. Has the white king finally found shelter?

Show Solution

19...Nxg3 trading off the excellent centralized knight to open the h-file. 20. hxg3 Bd4+ and White resigned. If 21. Nxd4 Qxd4+ 22. Kh1 Kg7, intending ...Rh8# finishes off the game quickly.
Stay tuned for the second leg of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix: February 2016 in Kish, Iran. Also watch Yifan Hou in a Saint Louis Showdown challenge match against GM Parimarjan Negi.   

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