2018 finished on an exciting note for the chess fans all over the world, with two last major events – the World Rapid and Blitz Championships. In spite of the fact that the details of the event were announced only a few weeks before its start, the strongest players from all over the world lined up to the start. All eyes were, as expected, on the current World Champions – Magnus Carlsen in the open section and Ju Wenjun in the women’s.
If Magnus Carlsen’s fans were in for a disappointing start, Ju Wenjun showed a great performance, starting with 5/5 and securing a clear first place with 10/12 after conceding 4 draws. The fight for the rest of the podium was on until the very end, with two players scoring 9 points – Sarasadat Khadelmasharieh of Iran, who came in second due to her better tie-breaks, and Russia’s Aleksandra Goryachkina.
Even though it was a rapid event, there were many good games and this is why we have decided to select a few that we enjoyed and show them to you in this article. There are many others that are worth seeing, but here are three that decided the podium of the women’s event
The last round saw the Chinese player securing a draw and the title, while on the rest of the boards the games were very much alive. One of the interesting games to watch was the encounter between the two Russian Grandmasters, Valentina Gunina and Aleksandra Goryachkina.
Both were fighting for the chance to the podium and this was clear from the very beginning of the game. A position with castles on opposite wings was reached and the race for the opponent’s king began. It seemed like white was going to be the first to create threats, but black maintained her cold blood to find not only a very good defense but also to continue her attack against the white king.
A very nice game that ended with a pretty sacrifice and a bronze medal for the black player:
Round 9 saw the finalists of the Women’s World Cup, Ju Wenjun and Kateryna Lagno, paired against each other, with the Chinese player having the white pieces. A mistake by black right after the opening allowed white a pretty tactic that won an important central pawn.
However, black didn’t make her opponent’s life any easier and kept looking for the initiative by creating threats against the king. White had to find an accurate way to keep the advantage, but she didn’t fail to do so and secure an important win in the tournament. You can see the full game below and try to find the tactic on move 14!
Another important encounter for the reigning World Champion was in round 10 when she was paired with the black pieces against Aleksandra Goryachkina. The game was a Petroff Defense where white seemed to have slight pressure in the center and kingside in return for black’s bishop pair. Nevertheless, black developed calmly, fending off any aggressive idea from White’s side and building on her positional advantage.
It is very instructive to see how she plays with the two bishops – first, she places the pawns on the color of her opponent’s bishop and restricts the activity of the knight, then opens the center and starts creating threats. White is forced to drop a pawn and the endgame is an easy task for the Chinese player.
We hope you have enjoyed going through these games and have learned something new from them. Remember, playing through the games of strong players and learning from their technique is an important method of training your skills!
Thank you for reading.