Thanks to a strong finish, scoring five points over her last six games, GM Kateryna Lagno of Russia won the first leg of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix in Astana, Kazakhstan. She finished half a point ahead of her compatriot GM Aleksandra Goryachkina of Russia while WGM Zhu Jiner of China came third.
When we last reported on the tournament, six rounds had been played, and Goryachkina and Zhu were in a tie for first place. Lagno had beaten GM Tan Zhongyi in that sixth round, and she continued with three more wins vs. the two German participants WGM Dinara Wagner and IM Elisabeth Paehtz, and then also Zhu.
Lagno’s last two games were somewhat disappointing as they both ended in draws quickly, in both cases with a well-known theoretical variation that leads to a move repetition right out of the opening.
Because Goryachkina was held to a draw in the final round, Lagno finished in sole first place (earning 15,000 euros), four weeks after winning the Chess.com Women’s Speed Chess Championship. She remained undefeated in a tournament where she scored plus five.
Two of her wins were quite interesting and had in common that Lagno didn’t castle. Against Tan, she seemed to start playing on the kingside but then reacted strongly to her opponent’s premature pawn break on the other side of the board, eventually trapping the queen:
After the rest day, Wagner provoked Lagno to start pushing her pawns on the kingside and this time it was indeed the start of a strong attack on the opponent’s king. In this case, it was theory for a long time:
Wagner (née Dordzhieva) is a Kalmyk-born player who moved to Germany in 2021 and married German GM Dennis Wagner. Shortly after the start of the war in Ukraine, she changed her federation from Russia to Germany.
Her win in the final round over GM Polina Shuvalova set a score of 5/11 for Wagner, good enough for her first IM norm. It could prove useful for her to have this norm over 11 rounds, because her next tournament is the European Club Cup next week, where a norm over seven rounds would get her to 18 games. Then a norm over nine more games would be sufficient (apart from breaking 2400).
Goryachkina dropped behind Lagno in the final round after a draw with IM Vaishali R. The older sister of GM Praggnananadhaa R. got an invitation (after GM Humpy Koneru had to withdraw for medical reasons) and scored 5/11 as well.
Vaishali was, in fact, dominating that last game and missed a win in the rook endgame:
Despite this slight disappointment at the end, Vaishali was in good spirits: “It was just an amazing experience to play against all the strong women players. It’s my first Grand Prix. I hope to work harder, get stronger, and win the Grand Prix cycle next year!”
FIDE Women GP Astana 2022 | Final Standings
All games rounds 7-11
The FIDE Women’s Grand Prix First Leg (of four) took place September 18-29, 2022, in Astana, Kazakhstan. The format was a round-robin tournament with 12 players. The time control was 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game, plus a 30-second increment starting on move one. The prize fund was 80,000 euros.
Three more legs in this Women’s Grand Prix follow: one in Munich, Germany (February 1-14, 2023) one in India in March 2023, and one in Bydgoscz, Poland in May 2023. The top two finishers in the overall GP standings will qualify for the Women’s Candidates Tournament.