Goryachkina maintains 1,5 point lead

In the seventh round, the leader of the tournament Aleksandra Goryachkina held a draw against Mariya Muzychuk to take her score to 5,5/7. Thus, she maintained her 1,5 point lead over her nearest pursuers Kateryna Lagno and Nana Dzagnidze, who played the longest game of the day and eventually finished in a draw. Anna Muzychuk missed good winning chances against Alexandra Kosteniuk. Valentina Gunina, who has up and down tournament so far, defeated Tan Zhongyi, for whom it was the third consecutive loss in the Candidates. It turned out to be the only decisive game in the seventh round.

After seven rounds, half-way through the tournament, Goryachkina has 5,5 points. Dzagnidze and Lagno share second with 4/7. The Muzychuk sisters, Gunina, and Kosteniuk have 3 points, and Tan Zhongyi has 2,5 points.

A theoretical battle Kosteniuk-Muzychuk ended up with Alexandra`s exchange sacrifice, which led to a very complex position. According to Anna Muzychuk, she didn`t know 19.Ba4 and had problems finding the moves. The Ukrainian didn`t like her position after 23.d6 and kept on spending much more time than her opponent. However, suddenly, Alexandra lost the track of the game and was already in a trouble when she decided to sharpen the position by playing 28.Nd5.
"When I played 28.Nd5 it was the last chance to complicate the position but I think I was losing after 28…Qf2. I was hoping for 28…Nd6 to happen as 29.Ne7 is a nice trick. Otherwise I was very unhappy about my play," commented Alexandra after the game. The game finished in a draw after the first time control.

Kateryna Lagno went for a complex position against Nana Dzagnidze in the Alapin Variation of the Sicilian. The Georgian player mobilized her pieces and sacrificed a pawn to get full control on the queenside and in the center. Kateryina Lagno found an interesting opportunity to create counter-play on the kingside, which balanced her chances in the game. After more than five hours of play the game ended up in a draw.
Nana Dzagnidze: "An important point is to save energy for the last rounds." Lagno: "So that's why today we played for more than five hours. Exactly your strategy!"

Mariya Muzychuk made an attempt to break Goryachkina`s series of victories. After numerous exchanges the game transposed into a rook and knight vs rook and bishop ending. Mariya won a pawn on the way and had good practical chances to defeat her opponent. However, Aleksandra was defending well and found the way to save the game.

Valentina Gunina got pleasant advantage right after the opening and had an upper hand during the whole game. When the players reached a rook and bishop vs rook and knight ending, she proved the bishop's superiority over the knight with convincing play. Valentina created killing threats to the Black`s king, and the ex-World Champion resigned on the 49th move.
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