News / Monaco

Tan Zhongyi, unbreakable in Khiva

At least from the outside, it looks like each day that goes by brings the tiebreak forward. Both players seem to be in a “no risk” control mode: solid openings, symmetrical pawn structures, and, above all, the avoidance of mistakes. With only one classical game to go, it will be very difficult to recover from a loss.

The third game of the 2022 FIDE Women's Candidates Tournament, Pool B, ended again in a draw after forty-five moves, although after the exchange of queen’s on move twenty-eight it could already be seen coming. 

Playing with White, GM Aleksandra Goryachkina opened once again with 1.d4, but this time GM Tan Zhongyi shelved her beloved Queen’s Gambit Declined and resorted to the solid Bogo-Indian defense, intelligently sidestepping team Goyrachkina’s opening preparation.

I couldn’t find that many top-level games with the Bogo-Indian in her broad repertoire, but I did happen to notice that she recently drew a game against non-other than former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik, in the Crocus City Stars Blitz, in Krasnogorsk Moscow 2022.
In that game, Goryachkina went for the main line 4.Bd2, whereas today, after a brief moment of thought, she preferred 4.Nbd2. After 4…d5, the main line is 5.Qa4+ which scores quite well for White according to my database. Goryachkina thought for five minutes before playing the uneventful 5.e3, a very correct move that unfortunately doesn’t pack the same punch.

Tan Zhongyi finished her development quite easily and was able to get the …c5 equalizing pawn lever in without any trouble at all. It’s quite challenging to find a moment where Goryachkina could have tried something more incisive: the position is just too symmetrical and equal. After a few well-timed piece exchanges, the position petered out into a completely drawn double-bishop ending.

Visibly disappointed, Goryachkina was very sparing with her words in the post-game interview with Press Officer Anna Kantane. “I don’t have much to say. Indeed, she played very quickly, but if I am unable to cause any problems, there is not much to think about”.

When asked about her plans for the future, Tan Zhongyi mentioned that she might stay a few more days in Khiva after the event: “This is my first time in Uzbekistan. I think I will have a chance to enjoy the scenery here after I finish the tournament, because I may not return home actually. I will go to Kazakhstan for the World Blitz and Rapid Championship, so I’ll stay around until then!”.

The players will return to the venue for the fourth and final classical game tomorrow Saturday, December 10th at 3 pm. It can be followed live with expert grandmaster commentary on FIDE Youtube.

Text: IM Michael Rahal
Photo: Timur Sattarov