Queens were exchanged relatively quickly after Anna essayed a trendy idea of 7.Nxc6, 8.Qd3 and 9.Qg3 in the Paulsen Sicilian. Then on move 12, Muzychuk played a4, which visually looked like she was giving up control over the b4 square. At the post-game interview, Anna said that she did not think 12…Bb4 was a big deal since she could react with 13.Bd2.
The next critical moment happened on the move 23 when Anna decided to go for an opposite-colour bishops endgame by taking on d6 (23.Rxd6).
The engines do not quite agree with this decision and prefer to maintain the pressure on the board by playing 23.g4!? The point is to prove that the black structure and, particularly, the e4 pawn are weak. After Lei found the precise sequence 23…Rxf1+ followed by 25…Rxf2+ equalizing on the spot, there was nothing special to play for. Fourteen moves down the road, a draw was signed in a dead-equal opposite-colour bishops endgame.
On the 5th of November will be the last classical game of the match with Lei having White pieces. Will there be a tiebreaker? Let’s wait and see!