Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Women's Chess 2015 - Mariya Muzychuk vs Natalia Pogonina

Women's Chess Championship in Sochi 2015 has reach its final round. Out of 64 women and girls, two has survive the knock out: Mariya Muzychuk and Natalia Pogonina. Before jumping to the pairings commentary, here is how they manage to survive the semifinals, which as usual, dramatic to the very last minutes.

Natalia Pogonina vs Pia Cramling 2.5-1.5, Semifinal 
Let first went into Pia Cramling vs Natalia Pogonina stories. The highlight is Natalia once again  crowned herself as the "Come Back Queen". This is her third time winning a "must win game" when she lost the first game against Pia. This time Natalija got white in the second semifinal classic games and Pia went into some strange Sicilian line to defend her lead. Pia failed and thus Natalia cheer the fans by third time saving herself from being eliminated.

In the rapid tie break games between Natalia and Pia, the first one done without much drama. The second one it is. Once again, Pia choose her double edge Sicilian defence and soon Natalia found her way to exploit it also. In completely winning endgame, Natalia should able to finish the game quicker, yet her exposed king is hardly can avoid abused from Pia's pieces. The game need to undergo 118 moves before its finish. Natalia went to the World Championship final by three times came back from losses. Thus also ended Pia Cramling great tournament, she defeated Valentina Gunina and Anna Muzychuk. Noted that Pia Cramling was probably in her thirties when she "must" witness the rise of Judit Polgar and her sisters in the '90s.

position after 13..Nd7, that eventually lead to..

completely winning endgame for Natalia, yet the exposed king provide enough playground for Pia Cramling's bishop and rook to abused it up to 118 moves

haha .... I'm in the semi finals... Pia Cramling happily resign her success story in Sochi 2015

Natalia Pogonina vs Pia Cramling 1-0, WCC Sochi 2015, Round 5.4

Mariya Muzychuk vs Harika Dronavalli

Mariya and Harika draw her two classical games, thus the tie break become their girly meeting last night. The first rapid went successfully for Mariya. Who when came to tactical battle, she is on top of Harika most of time.

the first rapid game Harika vs Mariya in Reti meet Dutch opening, 1.Nf3 f5 2.g3 Nf6 3.b3 g6 4.Bb2 Bg7 5.Bg2 O-O 6.O-O, later ended up with this position ...

and Mariya manage to converted her tactical idea into full point, 0-1 as Harika resigned here

Harika in her Yoga chess stance ... still not enough to push her luck 
Photos: Anastasia Karlovich (sochi2015.fide.com)

In the second rapid game, Mariya was able to throw some nice tactic to busted Harika's Modern defence. Yet in crucial moment, Mariya didn't find the best continuation and allow Harika back in the game, press and win the second rapid.

black to move and can get a huge advantage by 38..Bxg2! 39.Nxg2 Qe2! , yet Harika did not find it in minutes time, the game still prolonged many moves before Harika able to won this position

Thus Mariya and Harika continued to the 2x10 minutes semi-blitz rounds. Here some of the most dramatic moment in WCC Sochi happened. In the first 10 minutes game, Mariya played the Dutch defence and able to equalize most of the time. She then try to made thing not equal by voluntarily gives up the h pawn in this position...

Black can choose to made everything dry by simple 44..Qf7, yet Mariya played 44..Kh6 which lead to losing h pawn in four moves 

then when Harika got completely winning endgame, Harika goes haywire in this position...

white just blunder by 83.Qe3?? .... black hold the position afterward easily. Mariya said "..is this really my happy day?"

Harika Dronavalli vs Mariya Muzychuk 1/2-1/2, WCC Sochi 2015 Round 5.5

The last 10 minutes game was won by Mariya, who overcame the game pretty easily. Harika use classic Philidor Defence but this opening is too pasive for her, letting Mariya once again punched in her tactical prowess and win the game. This is anticlimax for Harika, who done extremely good in the tournament. Mariya Muzychuk then go to final to challenge Natalia Pogonina in Ukraine vs Russia war.

white get big advantage with extra pawns and they are passed pawns 

the "tip-shake" to ended Harika's journey and advance Mariya to WCC final for her first time

Mariya Muzychuk vs Harika Dronavalli 1-0, WCC Sochi 2015 Round 5.6

FIDE World Women's Chess Championship 2015 Sochi - Final Pairing

WCC Sochi Finals!  Mariya Muzychuk vs Natalia "I'll be Back" Pogonina

Mariya Muzychuk played strong tactical games through out the tournament. She only lost the very first games against Yuan Yuanling and against Koneru Humpy. Her has problem in time trouble tough. If she won the world champion, she will meet Hou Yifan. Mariya is only one year older than Hou. Mariya is seeded 8th in the tournament and currently rank 12 in female chess player. This maybe the best time to give the younger Muzychuk to reach world level.
Mariya's previous opponents:
Round 1: Yuan Yuanling
Round 2: Monica Socko
Round 3: Antoaneta Stefanova
Round 4: Koneru Humpy
Round 5: Harika Dronavalli

Natalia Pogonina on the other side, struggling to reach her final. She got three losses to fight back. Yet she did. Natalia on 31st seed in the tournament, currently rank 40th in female chess player. Her best rating is 2508 just happened in July 2014.  If Natalia really to challenge Hou Yifan, I think the popularity of the match will be very high.
Natalia's previous opponents:
Round 1: Guo Qi
Round 2: Ju Wenjun
Round 3: Marie Sebag
Round 4: Zhao Xue
Round 5: Pia Cramling

In term of Mariya vs Natalija, both seem like to play tactical game, so expected to see (more) bloody rounds. They only got one draw games in chessgames.com, but should already played many times. Let's see how the match going on in April 2nd, 2015.

As we know, the winner of this FIDE Knock Out Championship will declared as Women World Chess Champion. Winner will played the future match against (now ex-) world champion Hou Yifan.
Eventually, popular opinions (and fact) see that both Mariya and Natalia will go only into one sided match against Hou Yifan.

All photos from official website


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