Before the round, all players are scanned at the entrance - mobile phones, watches, pens, and any unnecessary items are prohibited in the venue. Additional scans can be performed after the game if required.
Access for spectators is only allowed during the first fifteen minutes and after the game professor Ken Regan provides the team with statistical testing of the games. FIDE ensures that no stones are left unturned in their effort to provide a fair and safe environment for elite chess events.
Top young Uzbekistan grandmasters Nodirbek Yakubboev (2647) and Shamsiddin Vokhidov (2579) enjoyed the privilege of performing this afternoon’s ceremonial moves in the Lagno-Tan Zhongyi game. Both of them were members of the national Uzbekistan team that took gold in the 2022 Chennai Olympiad.
Aleksandra Goryachkina (GM 2584) vs Alexandra Kosteniuk (GM 2521) 0,5 – 0,5
Winning on-demand with Black against a top player such as Aleksandra Goryachkina is a huge challenge, but once again Alexandra Kosteniuk gave it all this afternoon, showcasing her fighting spirit.
Her daring opening choice, a side-line in the dangerous King’s Indian defence, undoubtedly left her with a slightly worse position going into the middle game, but as all KID player’s know, it’s the best choice to fight for a win.
On move sixteen, Kosteniuk decided to initiate a very interesting pawn sacrifice, that got her opponent thinking for more than ten minutes. “In general, I was sure that everything would be fine. However, later on I started feeling slightly nervous because after her move 16…f5, sacrificing the pawn, the position became more complicated” said Goryachkina after the game.
However, she wasn’t able to follow it up and, sensing the danger, Goryachkina went into control mode playing 26.Rd1 – better is 26.Nc3 with a big advantage for White - , starting a line of simplification which ultimately secured the draw for her.
With this result, Aleksandra Goryachkina wins her quarter-finals match by 2,5 – 1,5 and qualifies for the semi-finals. She will enjoy two free days to prepare for her opponent: Lagno or Tan Zhongyi.
Kateryna Lagno (GM 2563) vs Tan Zhongyi (GM 2514) 0,5 – 0,5
After three consecutive draws, both players came to the game very focused: a mistake in the fourth game would be costly. Tan Zhongyi surprised Lagno with the Sicilian Dragon variation, which, according to my database, she had only played once back in 2012.
Maybe fearing home preparation, Lagno went for her own fianchetto, the so-called 6.g3 line, a very solid choice. They followed a 2019 game between GM Wei Yi and GM Praggnanandhaa and Lagno was unable to secure an edge, just a very small space advantage.
At the key moment, Tan Zhongyi struck at the centre with the timely 18…d5 and after a few moves and some mass exchanges the position was clearly heading towards a draw, which was agreed on move 41.
After the game, Lagno joined press officer Anna Kantane for a brief interview. Asked about today’s game, Lagno was quite frank: “Today’s game was very complicated. She surprised me in the opening, playing the Dragon, and I couldn’t figure out who was better and why. The position is probably equal when she plays 21…d4”.
With regard to her impressions on the first half of the tournament, Lagno said: “Tomorrow is the tiebreak, so I am trying to stay focussed. I have to play four games and I don’t think that the draw of colours matters so much: I just need to prepare the games”.
The tiebreak between Tan Zhongyi and Kateryna Lagno is scheduled for Sunday, December 4th at 3pm. According to the rules and regulations of the event, four 15 minute + 10 second increment games will be played.
If the tie persists, another drawing of colours will take place and two more games will be played with a 5’+ 3” time control.
If the score is still even, then the will be another drawing of colours, and subsequent games 3’+ 2” games until the first win.
As usual, the exciting match can be followed live with expert grand master commentary on FIDE Youtube.
Text: IM Michael Rahal
Photo: Timur Sattarov