Women's Candidates Tournament starts peacefully

The FIDE Women's Candidates Tournament started on May 31 with all four games ending in draws. Despite the peaceful result, the most dramatic games happened in the Russian derbies Gunina-Lagno and Kosteniuk-Goryachkina. The games between Muzychuk sisters and Nana Dzagnidze-Tan Zhongyi were quieter and finished before the time control.

Valentina Gunina — Kateryna Lagno | ½ — ½

Alexandra Kosteniuk — Alexandra Goryachkina | ½ — ½

Nana Dzagnidze — Tan Zhongyi | ½ — ½

Maria Muzychuk — Anna Muzychuk | ½ — ½
The game between the sisters Anna and Mariya Muzychuk finished quickly in a draw, and both players came to the media centre to share their impressions on the event and the city with local and foreign journalists. "Of course, it's a great event, the strongest women's tournament in chess history and I was looking forward to it. I have good memories about Kazan since 2012 when I tied for the first place in Grand Prix event together with Humpy Koneru. I'm glad to be back", said Anna. Even though Mariya Muzychuk won the Women's World Champion title in 2015, she still finds the motivation to fight: "It's such kind of a tournament where the winner takes it all. Either you win this tournament, or you don't, as only if you win, you have a chance to fight for the World Championship title."

Tan Zhongyi managed to surprise Nana Dzagnidze with Petrov's Defence, and the Georgian player chose a rare line which led to a somewhat equal position. Even if White had some hopes for a slight advantage, all expectations were ruined by a strong 20…Ba6, which Nana overlooked during the game.

According to Dzagnidze, she was considering to keep on playing after 28. f4. However, she was not sure if she had anything substantial and decided to go for a three-fold repetition.

A real thriller happened in the game Gunina-Lagno, where White got a clear advantage in Ruy Lopez and had a comfortable and smooth play. According to Gunina, she lost the track before the time control, and it was already Black, who was fighting for the victory in the game.
After a brilliant 46. Ra1 White is back to the game and forcing perpetual check after 48…Qa1! Katerina Lagno missed a quiet 55.g3 at the end of the forced line and was happy Black is not losing but forcing a draw after 55…Bg5.

The last game to finish was Kosteniuk-Goryachkina. The Women's ex-world champion felt she had missed her advantage after the opening and was not sure if the decision to change the Queens was the right one. "I thought I would have a better position at the endgame, but in fact, I didn't manage to demonstrate anything there. In contrary, I missed the transfer of her knight to c4 and felt anxious after that", said Alexandra Kosteniuk after the game. The youngest participant of the tournament Aleksandra Goryachkina avoided the repetition of moves after the time control, believing her chances in the endgame were better. After 43.b4 Black had a significant advantage, however, Goryachkina didn't manage to find the precise way and to transfer it into a full point.
After the first round, the tournament has no leaders nor tail-enders. The second round will be played tomorrow, Saturday, June 1st, at 15:00 local time, with the following pairings:

Kateryna Lagno — Alexandra Kosteniuk
Aleksandra Goryachkina — Valentina Gunina
Tan Zhongyi — Mariya Muzychuk
Anna Muzychuk — Nana Dzagnidze

Report by Anastasiya Karlovich
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