Pool B, the second stage of the 2022-23 FIDE Women’s Candidates Tournament held in Khiva, Uzbekistan, started with two draws. GM Aleksandra Goryachkina was close to a decisive advantage in her game with GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, while GM Tan Zhongyi vs. GM Kateryna Lagno was about equal all the time.
The second game in both matches starts Wednesday, November 30 at 2 a.m. Pacific / 11:00 CET. The winner of Pool B will play Pool A winner GM Lei Tingjie for a chance to challenge Women’s World Champion Ju Wenjun in the next title match.
You can watch the 2022-2023 FIDE Women’s Candidates Tournament on our Twitch channel. Games from the event can be viewed on our events page.
25 days after Lei secured her spot in the Women’s Candidates final, by winning Pool A in Monaco, the fight for the other spot started on Tuesday in the ancient oasis city of Khiva, Uzbekistan. Found about 1,500 years ago, it is famous for being the birthplace of the astronomer, historian, and polymath Al-Biruni (973-1048 CE).
Uzbekistan is also the birthplace of some of today’s biggest talents in chess, and therefore it’s quite fitting that it is now hosting a prestigious FIDE event as part of the world championship cycle.
Whereas two Ukrainian participants played in Pool A, FIDE has placed the three Russian players in Pool B. Once again, these quarterfinals and semifinals consist of four-game matches, while the final, to be held in the first quarter of 2023, will be six classical games. In case of a tie at the end of each round, a rapid/blitz tiebreak will be played.
For her first game, Lagno didn’t go for the Grunfeld, her usual choice, but played the Queen’s Gambit Declined instead. As Tan went for the Exchange variation, Lagno played an early Nf6-e8-d6!? maneuver, also tried recently by GM Magnus Carlsen, at the European Club Cup.
Black’s whole setup, with the other knight going to a6 and pushing …b5, was quite a success because Tan was too hesitant with “countering” in the center.
“I think I had a slight edge after she gave me the light-squared bishop but then I just couldn’t find the right way to proceed,” said Lagno. “Probably I should not have taken on d3. After that I think the position is already equal.”
Also in the other game, an Anti-Berlin Ruy Lopez, it was Black who had the better chances. In fact, Goryachkina’s advantage was close to -3, in engine evaluation terms, on move 34. The direct 34…Qh5, threatening to enter on e2 while also keeping the option of 34…b4 and winning the battle for central squares, would have been tough to meet for Kosteniuk.
“I think at some point I started doing something wrong,” said Kosteniuk. “I was very worried about my position. I think in time-trouble I got lucky to exchange everything. Of course I’m not very satisfied with my performance today.”
The Game of the Day annotated by GM Rafael Leitao will be added soon.
The 2022-23 Women’s Candidates Tournament is an elite event featuring eight top female players, who compete in a knockout format for a share of the €250,000 prize fund and the right to play in the Women’s World Championship match against Women’s World Champion Ju Wenjun.
Pool A was won by GM Lei Tingjie; Pool B takes place November 29-December 11, 2022 in Khiva, Uzbekistan. The prize fund is 70,000 euros, while another 110,000 will be at stake in next year’s final. The time control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move one. A draw offer before move 40 is not allowed.