Nana Dzagnidze became the first player to win a game in the 2019 Women's Candidates Tournament, after defeating Anna Muzychuk with the black pieces. One and a half hour later, Aleksandra Goryachkina joined her in the lead scoring the second victory of the day by beating her compatriot Valentina Gunina. Katerina Lagno had an advantage in the game against Alexandra Kosteniuk, but the former world champion found some counter-chances and held the game to a draw. The derby between two former World Champions, Tan Zhongyi and Mariya Muzychuk, ended in a draw.
Therefore, after two rounds Nana Dzagnidze and Aleksandra Goryachkina are in shared first place at the FIDE Women's Candidates Tournament.
Nana Dzagnidze decided to avoid playing her main weapon in the Sicilian and went for a not-so-regular guest in her repertoire, 2. Nc6. Even though Anna Muzychuk kept trying to surprise her opponent back, the Georgian player seemed prepared for the opening discussion. "My position was fine, but then move by move I started to lose the thread of the game and somehow misplaced all my pieces", said Anna after the game. Nana Dzagnidze gained the initiative and found the final blow, which ruined her opponent's King's side.
Playing White, Tan Zhongyi blitzed out her first 20 moves, showing her good preparation for the game. Thereby, she got a nice one-hour time advantage and when her opponent fell in time-trouble, the Chinese decided to sharpen the position by playing actively on the King's side. However, Mariya Muzychuk managed to remain calm and held her position. "I had calculated everything well, and I didn't see any danger. I found 23...Bd3 and 24...Qb5 and I think it just leads to a draw," said the Ukrainian player after the game.
Alexandra Kosteniuk tried the new set up with g6, d6 in Ruy Lopez. Therefore Katerina Lagno was not prepared for this line but got a big advantage after an inaccurate 13...Nd7. The former Women's World Champion was aware she was in trouble after 14.d4, but she put on a stubborn defence and eventually found some counter chances.
According to Alexandra, she felt more confident about her position after 23... Rb8 and 24...e5, the move which Katerina Lagno overlooked during the game. However, Katerina got one more chance to fight for more than a draw after 27...Kg7. With both kings exposed and not so much time left on the clock, she didn't take a risk to check the promising line for White starting with 28.h4.
Answering the question if she feels like she missed a good winning chance today, Katerina Lagno said with a smile: "'Winning chances' for me it's when I have a piece up o mate in one... Before that, it's just a fight".
In the second Russian clash, Aleksandra Goryachkina got a very comfortable position right after the opening. According to Valentina Gunina, she prepared many different lines before the game but was not ready enough for 5. Qc2. Goryachkina got the type of ending where she was trying to abuse the fact that it was tough to make moves for the defending side. Valentina Gunina tried hard to equalize the position, and had a real chance to do so after 35...Be3, transferring the game into the rook ending. The decisive mistake was 69...Kg4; if she had went instead for 69...Rc3 and 70...Kg6, Black would have kept good drawing chances.
Here Goryachkina found the study-like 72.Nh4! which brought her a victory.
Report by Anastasya Karlovich.
Kateryna Lagno — Alexandra Kosteniuk | ½ — ½
Alexandra Goryachkina — Valentina Gunina 1 — 0
Tan Zhongyi — Maria Muzychuk| ½ — ½
Anna Muzychuk — Nana Dzagnidze | 0 — 1