Saturday, 28 July 2007

A Close Run Thing

In the end the Monroi Women's Grand Prix was won by Pia Cramling. Well done to her, but it was a very close run thing. She will know as well as anyone that she came perilously close to losing her last round game.

Here's the position with Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant (White) to play

White to play and win the Monroi Women's Grand Prix...

31 Bxe5?

Sadly, that's not the right way to do it. The answer turns out to be 31 Rg3! immediately. I sat and stared at this for a while, wondering what would happen if Black played 31...d6 but White then has the lovely finish 32 Bxh6! gxh6 33 Rg8+ Kh7 34 Qg6+! Nxg6 35 fxg6 mate. If Black doesn't play d6, she has no good way to stop White's queen from infiltrating at f7. 31...Qxc2 32 Bxe5 fxe5 33 Rg1 and Black is powerless against the threat of Qf7 (if the bishop moves, 34 Qxg7 mate). Finally, if Black tries a bishop move, e.g. 31...Bd6, White has a pleasant choice between 32 Rxg7! and 32 Bxh6!, both of which lead to a swift mate.

31...Qxe5 32 Qf7 Bd6 33 Rg3 Rg8 34 Qxd7?

White's back rank is just too vulnerable to allow her the luxury of taking this pawn. 34 Bc4 holds White's position together by anchoring the f1 square.

34...Rbd8 35 Qb5 Bc7

Fritz thinks White is now beyond salvation and it is not hard to see why. There are too many pins and skewers to deal with and, once the g8 rook comes into play at e8, the back rank is under too much pressure.

36 Qc6 Rge8 37 Kg1 Bb8 38 Qc4 Re7 39 Kf1 Rxd5! 40 Qxd5 Qe2+ 41 Kg1 Ba7+ 0-1

A bit sad, that, for Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant. Jovanka Houska drew her last-round game, so that meant that Pia Cramling took first with 5/7 and Jovanka Houska second with 4½.

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