GM Lei Tingjie qualified for the final of the 2022-23 FIDE Women’s Candidates Tournament after beating GM Anna Muzychuk in the fourth game of their match in Monaco. Lei, who knocked out Anna’s sister GM Mariya Muzychuk in the quarterfinals, will now play the winner of the second stage of the tournament, which starts November 28 in Uzbekistan.
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.
After the two draws covered in our previous report, the third ended peacefully as well on Friday. Lei played the Sicilian again, like in the first game, and this time Muzychuk was ready to combat the main lines.
Against the Taimanov, the Ukrainian GM chose a modern way of playing which involves a quick trade of queens, after which White has a slight edge in the endgame. One of her trumps is the open h-file there, and Muzychuk even sacrificed her e-pawn to prepare doubling her rooks on that h-file and win back the h7-pawn.
Lei decided to just return the pawn voluntarily and get an active rook herself. By pushing her g-pawn, Muzychuk could still have kept an edge, but instead she decided to trade some pieces after which the draw was inevitable.
Also in the fourth game, the opening was repeated from the earlier game with the same colors: Muzychuk again chose the Grunfeld. This time, Lei went for the 7.Qa4+ sideline, which she had played twice before in her career. Muzychuk seemed fully ready for it as she played theoretically sound moves for a while, but her 11th move was inaccurate—she should have traded queens there.
As it went, Lei managed to put some pressure with an excellent rook move (19.Re4!) and Muzychuk’s response, which lost an important tempo, was another step to her downfall. White got an ideal setup with pawns and pieces, and soon won the important e7-pawn. A strategically superb game by the Chinese player.
“I am happy,” said Lei. “I already drew six games in a row, and finally I won a game again.”
The other half of the bracket, which will produce an opponent for Lei, starts November 28 in Uzbekistan with GMs Aleksandra Goryachkina, Kateryna Lagno, Alexandra Kosteniuk, and Tan Zhongyi. The final is scheduled for the first quarter of 2023, and the eventual winner will play Women’s World Champion Ju Wenjun in the next title match.
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. The tournament’s first quarterfinals began on October 25; the final will be in the first quarter of 2023. 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.