GM Anna Muzychuk defeated GM Humpy Koneru on demand in Saturday’s fourth game of their Women’s Candidates quarterfinal, thus forcing a tiebreak to be played on Sunday. The winner will face GM Lei Tingjie, who reached the draw she needed against GM Mariya Muzychuk. The quarterfinals tiebreak starts on Sunday, October 30 at 7 a.m. PT / 15:00 CEST.
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After the two draws on Thursday, covered in our last report, it was the same story on the third day of play: draws in both games. We’ll look at Koneru vs. Anna Muzychuk to start with, a game that followed Sevian-Niemann from the recent U.S. Championship for 18 moves! Unsurprisingly, the ladies have come very well prepared to Monaco.
Lei vs. Mariya Muzychuk also saw a queenless middlegame, with more pawns on the board and more quiet maneuvering taking place. Ukraine’s former world champion was doing very well, but missed her chance to level the score in the match:
Like on the second day, the Muzychuk sisters both faced the Petroff with the white pieces on Saturday. The difference was that both had to win on demand, and only Anna succeeded.
“This match was quite tough,” said Lei, after another solid draw vs. Mariya. “Yesterday I was very lucky, and today’s game was also very complicated.”
In her first white game, Anna Muzychuk was lost for one move but the Ukrainian GM must have found an improvement earlier on, as she repeated the same line anyway. It was Koneru who deviated first, but she got under pressure anyway after White ran her h-pawn all the way to h6.
The Indian GM sacrificed her c-pawn in order to get some counterplay on the queenside, but that kind of backfired. White became active on both wings, got a monster bishop on f6, and then sacrificed an exchange to get a winning position.
The infamous 40th move could have changed everything: Muzychuk allowed an instant equalizer, but with only seconds on her clock, Koneru missed her chance on a ticket to the semifinals.
Muzychuk said she was “exhausted” after a complicated game: “I’m not sure what was going on in time-trouble. Quite a difficult game.”
The 2022-23 Women’s Candidates Tournament is an elite event featuring eight top female players, who compete in a knockout format for their share of the €250,000 prize fund and the right to play the Women’s World Championship match against Women’s World Champion Ju Wenjun. The tournament’s first quarterfinals began October 25, with the final happening 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.