Gunina Overtakes Paehtz: ‘When Valentina is on fire, she is just merciless.’

GM Valentina Gunina defeated IM Elisabeth Paehtz in their round of 16 match of the FIDE 2022 Women’s Speed Chess Championship on Tuesday. Gunina showed several strengths throughout the match: tactical sharpness, excellent time management, and accuracy in converting advantages, making her incredibly difficult to score points against. 

The next round of 16 match, GM Nana Dzagnidze vs. GM Humpy Koneru, begins on Wednesday, July 6, at 5 a.m. Pacific / 14:00 Central European.

Blitz 5|1: Gunina 9-2 Paehtz

Gunina claimed the first win by setting up a clever mating net in the endgame. Can you figure out how?

Unfortunately for her, Paehtz won the very next game due to a mouse slip. However, Gunina followed this up with six victories in a row, including game four when she broke through on the kingside with her two rooks.

Gunina played really clean chess through the 5+1 segment, building up her advantage and going for the knockout punch when ready like in game seven where she calmly built up tremendous kingside pressure.

Paehtz had great winning chances in game eight by lining up her queen and rook on the h-file, aiming down at Gunina’s open king. but Paethz overlooked a tactical opportunity to convert her positional advantage into a material one.

In game 10, Paehtz had another key winning opportunity but missed how to create a mating net with her doubled rooks.

Gunina entered the 3+1 segment with a seven-point lead.

Blitz 3|1: Gunina 9-2 Paehtz

Paehtz started the 3+1 portion with a winning kingside attack but failed to find the knockout blow, eventually blundering.

In game six, Paehtz claimed her first victory since Gunina’s mouse slip in game two of the 5+1 segment, gaining a material advantage and then winning on time.

Despite being down so many points in the match, Paehtz made an effort to play fascinating attacking chess. Check out the shocking queen sacrifice she played in game seven. 

Still, Gunina continued to win game after game in convincing style, often obtaining advantages in position, material, and on the clock all at once. Game eight was a great example of this. As commentator GM Irina Krush remarked, “When Valentina is on fire, she is just merciless.”

When Valentina is on fire, she is just merciless.


In the penultimate game, Gunina combined strategic play with a clever tactic to break into Paehtz’s position, demonstrating her versatile playing style. 

Bullet 1|1: Gunina 7.5-2.5 Paehtz

With the vast difference in score of 15 points by the end of the 3+1 portion, Gunina had essentially sealed the match before the bullet segment began. 

The most fascinating game was when Gunina found a winning combination to leave her opponent with no pieces ready to stop her passed d-pawn. 

In the last game, Paehtz utilized a double bishop sacrifice to achieve a perpetual check, finishing the match emulating the play of the second world champion, GM Emanuel Lasker.

Gunina’s 19-point lead in score speaks for itself. She combined tactical vision, strategic ideas, and strong time management to cleanly win countless games.

Gunina earned $2345.70 in prize money for her victory while Paehtz took home $279.30 for her efforts.

In her interview, Gunina shared about her setting and the story behind the pineapple curiously sitting in the background: “Maybe it’s for me, I don’t know… I’m in Madrid now, enjoying the Candidates and on holiday… I had not only great preparation but also great support from my friends.”

I had not only great preparation but also great support from my friends.


All Games – Round of 16

Women’s Speed Chess Championship Bracket

The FIDE 2022 Women’s Speed Chess Championship is an online event where titled women players will play a series of blitz and bullet matches for a share of the $70,000 prize fund. The qualifiers for the event took place on May 24-27, with the main event starting on June 13 and ending on July 21.

Previous Coverage



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top