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How do you trick a boa constrictor
IMG 5092Humpy Koneru's winning streak is over after she lost to Mariya Muzychuk in the first game of the Quarterfinals. It was a bad day for Russian chess fans, since Natalia Pogonina lost as White to Zhao Xue. Grandmaster Evgeny Miroshnichenko brings you the details.

“During the live stream Elisabeth Paehtz and I overlooked the moment when Harika offered her opponent a draw. We were at a loss why Meri keeps thinking, having the only sensible move – 16.Bd3. We began to invent some crazy piece sacrifices, but nothing seemed to work. It turned out the Georgian player was considering a draw offer...

I have mixed feelings about such outcome. On one hand, White's position was promising, and one should not pass on such chances. On the other hand, Meri is not very much into making the most of her White. She made a quick draw in the first round against Elisabeth, also repeating the moves in a better position. Then offered a draw to Victoria Cmilyte in a rook ending with an extra pawn. It looks like Meri is always happy to proceed to the rapid chess stage, which is indeed her strength.

Mariya Muzychuk: I needed to take risks, to sacrifice
IMG 5626Mariya Muzychuk's victory over Humpy Koneru was sensational in many senses. The Ukrainian player came to the press center to tell journalists about it.

Anastasia Karlovich: What was your mood before this game? Did you expect to win?

Mariya Muzychuk: Actually I was planning to win as White and to hold as Black.

– Have you expected this variation?

– I thought I prepared this opening well. I reviewed all my games in this variation (Koneru haven't played it before). 11.Rе1 is a new move in my practice, I never used it before. However, I was not aware of 12...Qf5, so I had to take my time.

Humpy Koneru: Today it was a crazy game
 MG 4698Anastasia Karlovich: Dear chess friends. We are again in the press center and our next guest is Koneru Humpy from India. She managed to win back against Maria Muzychuk. So the match score is 1-1 and there will be tie breaks tomorrow. Humpy, please tell us what happened yesterday and today as well.

Koneru Humpy: Yesterday I was too nervous. After I played f6 I realized that I made a blunder. I think it is because of this knockout format. I got too much tense. Today it was a crazy game. I needed to be desperate. I played some dubious line. Black was doing fine in the middle game, even better than white. But it was a long game and somehow I managed to trick towards win.

Natalia Pogonina: I did not expect Zhao Xue to allow the Benko
 MG 4716In a must-win situation Natalia Pogonina went for the Benko gambit, and her favorite opening did not let her down. The fate of the match will be decided on a tie-break.

Anastasia Karlovich: Congratulations with your comeback! It was a very tough game. You played the Benko gambit, which is your favorite opening, as far as I know. Did it work out as expected?

Natalia Pogonina: My preparation for this game was very extensive. Zhao Xue has a wide opening repertoire, and I did not expect her to allow the Benko, as it is quite a sharp opening. I don't know why she went there, maybe just thought this time everything will be alright. We already played such schemes a few times, by the way. And in any case I was prepared for other openings as well.

The Quarterfinals begin at the Women's World Championship
IMG 5077The fourth round of the Women's World Chess Championship started in SCC Galactica (Sochi, Krasnaya Polyana) on March 26.

Eight players continue their quest for the chess crown – Humpy Koneru and Harika Dronavalli (both from India), sisters Anna and Mariya Muzychuk (both from Ukraine), Zhao Xue (China), Natalia Pogonina (Russia), Meri Arabidze (Georgia), and Pia Cramling (Sweden).

They are to play short two-game matches with the following time control: 90 minutes for 40 moves, then 30 minutes for the rest of the game, plus 30 bonus seconds after each move. If the match is tied 1-1, it is continued on the tie-break with quicker time controls.

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