Day of sensations in Khanty-Mansysk!


At the womens world championship in Khanty Mansysk, the second games of round 2 have been played. It was hard to imagine such a number of terrible blunders and unexpected results. The players leaving the tournament include Humpy Koneru, Ekaterina Lahno, and Viktoria Cmylijte, whilst Hou Yifan and Zhao Xue, who won on day one, now face a tie-break. 


The first sensation: after losing hopelessly in game 1, Monika Socko beat Hou Yifan as Black...At some moment, the Chinese player lost her objectivity completely, messing about with her rooks on the c-file and allowing her opponent all she wanted. Black's mobile bishops and powerful d-pawn decided the game. Hou Yifan admitted defeat at move 33. It is hard to remember when she played so weakly...

But Natalya Zhukova did not squander her advantage, after a sensational victory yesterday over Humpy Koneru. Humpy stubbornly sought chances as Black and at some moment, appeared to have forced a mistake from her opponent...After the exchanging combination undertaken by White, the move 28.f4? put her on the edge of a catastrophe, but the Indian did not find the accurate continuation and herself began to err with every move. On move 43, a distressed Koneru congratulated her opponent on victory in the game and the match. 

Nino Khurtidze managed to equalise against Zhao Xue. The Georgian player came out on top in a quiet manoeuvering battle, having not set out to win at all costs. There was nothing in the game until move 21, when the Chinese player blundered a pawn and the exchange, after which that was that. ... 

After a draw with Black, Lahno played confidently against Dzakashvili. But at move 21, Ekaterina suddenly lost control of the position. The Ukrainian number one missed the move 21...Bf6, after which the game was already probably not to be saved. Leila's realisation was not ideal, but it sufficed, and at move 73, Lahno resigned and headed out of the tournament. 

Viktoria Cmylijte was in the same situation. After a draw with Black against Huang Tsan, she played actively as White and had a clear advantage by move 23, and a winning position after 27.f6. But then Cmylijte colapsed, and move by move, her position got worse, as she gave away all her positional plusses, reaching a difficult endgame, which she lost in short order. 

But Irina Krush managed to use the White pieces and equalise the score against Pia Cramling. The same advantage helped Tatiana Kosintseva to outplay Hoang Than Truang, and Natalya Pogonina did the same to her Russian team colleague, Alexandra Kosteniuk. 

What a great day it was for the Blacks! As well as Dzakashvili and Huang Tsun, Marie Sebag (who crushed Olga Gira), Alisa Galliamova (who needed just 30 moves to demolish Valentina Gunina) and Antoanetta Stefanova (who beat ex-world champion Zhu Chen) all won with Black, to win their matches. 

Thus, 10 players are already through to the 1/8 final. Six more pairs will play tie-breaks tomorrow. Khanty Mansysk likes surprises!


(Text by Evgeny Atarov)