GM Lei Tingjie scored an important win over GM Tan Zhongyi with White to push herself a point in front with two rounds to go in the final of the FIDE Women’s Candidate’s Tournament 2022-2023 on Sunday.
Selecting a theoretical approach in the Catalan Opening, Lei embraced the middlegame rollercoaster that ensued and maintained her perfect score with the white pieces, edging closer to claiming her right to challenge compatriot and women’s world champion GM Ju Wenjun later in the year.
Game five will take place on Monday, April 3, 2023, starting at 12 a.m. Pacific / 9:00 CET.
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.
With a loss, win, and draw leaving the players all square after the first half of the event, enthusiasts watched on keenly to see how the competitors had altered their strategies during the rest day. Tan, who has played combatively with both colors thus far, appeared to be the more prepared of the two and busted out her first 15 moves at lightning pace.
Lei was the first to go into the think tank on move 14, where she chose the interesting 14.Nbd2, voluntarily allowing Tan to double her pawns on the e-file and gain the bishop pair. The decision did turn out to be fruitful though as Tan struggled to hold equality as the players left known theory (Eljanov-van Foreest, 2020 was repeated until move 15), and it soon became clear that White was pressing.
Following several inaccuracies in the imbalanced middlegame, the 2017-2018 women’s world champion was presented with an opportunity to attack but missed the exquisite idea that would have brought Lei’s position to a standstill. Can you spot the reason why 28.b3? was a problem for White?
“Did Lei Tingjie just blunder? I think she got a little bit careless here.” GM Alik Gershon in the live commentary of the #FIDEWomenCandidates Final.
Watch the broadcast: https://t.co/XhuZ6e7YHR pic.twitter.com/QdDRHIvOcW
— International Chess Federation (@FIDE_chess) April 2, 2023
Analyzing the position live, commentator and former world women’s champion Kosteniuk was left shaking her head as the chance to play 28…fxe4!, followed by a brutal attacking combination was missed in favor of the slightly passive 28…Nc8?.
The mistake proved costly and Lei never looked back, concocting a plan to checkmate the black king after the defending pieces left their monarch’s side. Though Tan successfully defended the attack, it came at the price of a knight, and after forcing a queen trade, Lei quickly confirmed the win.
Below is the full game which has been annotated by GM Rafael Leitao.
With just two games left and the scores at 2.5-1.5, the pressure now lies firmly on Tan’s shoulders to strike tomorrow with the white pieces. Although momentum is against her, the women’s world number-eight has already proven her ability to strike in moments that matter.
Whether she returns to the English Opening that saw her win the opening duel or deviate towards something else entirely, one thing is for sure: high-octane action will take place on Monday in Chongqing.
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 final is a six-game match between GMs Lei Tingjie and Tan Zhongyi from March 29-April 5. The prize fund is 110,000 euros. 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.