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Gunina Wins Rapid Tournament in Berlin

User Rating: / 3
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 03 December 2013

Stephan Oliver Platz reports from Berlin, Germany

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Valentina Gunina (left) and Elisabeth Paehtz during the 1st game of the final

On Thursday, November 28th, 2013, a women's rapid chess tournament was organized by the newspaper "Neues Deutschland" in Berlin. The participants were 4 top players from Russia, Norway and Germany: GM Valentina Gunina (Russia) who had to defend her title from the same event last year, WGM Elisabeth Paehtz (Germany) who had been second in 2012, WGM Marta Michna (Germany) and WIM Silje Bjerke (Norway). In a first stage they had two play against each other with 10 minutes per game plus increment. Valentina Gunina won all three games and came out clear first ahead of Elisabeth Paehtz (2.0) and Marta Michna (1.0).

This meant that Valentina and Elisabeth had to play the final and Marta and Silje had to play for 3rd place. In this second stage two games were played with 15 minutes per game plus increment.

Left to right: Silje Bjerke, Marta Michna and Elisabeth Paehtz

The dramatic games of the final

In the final Valentina proved that she is a very tough defender. She kept calm in all the critical situations while Elisabeth could not convert the advantages she had gained into a full point.

The first game of the final between Valentina Gunina and Elisabeth Paehtz was indeed very thrilling:

Valentina Gunina - Elisabeth Paehtz

Final, 1st game

1.d4 d6 2.e4 g6 3.f3 Bg7 4.Ne2 Nf6 5.c4 c6 6.Nbc3 a6 7.Be3 b5 8.c5 dxc5

This seems to be better than 8. ... o-o which would have led to a position known from a game Dreev - Jobava, Moscow 2002. The continuation was 9.cxd6 exd6 10.Nf4 Nbd7 11.Be2 Qe7 += according to ECO ("Small Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings", Belgrade 2010, p. 644-645)

9.dxc5 Qc7 10.Qd2 Nbd7 11.Ng3 Ne5 12.Rd1 h5 13.Bf4?

Beginning with this move White's position is getting worse. 13.f4 was better: 13. ... Neg4 14.e5 Nd5 and now 15.Bd4 = or 15.Nxd5 cxd5 16.Bd4 = (not 16. ... Qxd5? Nxe3 17.Qxa8 Nxd1 18.Kxd1 o-o! and Black will regain the pawn with the superior game).

13...Be6 14.Be2 Nfd7 15.b4

Shall White attempt to defend her pawn in this position? 15.b4 has the serious disadvantage that Black can open the a-file. 15.Be3 h4 16.Nf1 may be a little better, but in each case White has a very difficult and cramped game. What else might White try? The sacrifice 15.Nd5!? cxd5 16.cxd5 Bf5 17.Nxf5 gxf5 18.b4 would have given White a strong passed pawn for the piece. But Black can simply decline the offer and play 16. ... Nxc5 17.dxe6 Nxe6 with the better game. 17.b4 Rd8! is no improvement for White. Finally she might sacrifice her pawn by playing 15.o-o (probably best) h4 16.Nh1 Nxc5 (16. ... h3 17.g3 may lead to the same positions) 17.Be3 h3! 18.g3! (18.Bxc5? hxg2 19.Kxg2 Nc4! 20.Bd6 Bh3+ 21.Kg3 - 21.Kg1? Qa7+ or Qb6+ - Nxd6 - +) Ncd7 19.b3 (Nc4 would be unpleasant) White is a pawn down, but at least the position is much better for White than later on in the game. Her badly placed knight will sooner or later go to f2 and at some opportune moment f4 can be played.

15...h4 16.Nf1 a5! 17.a3 axb4 18.axb4 Ra3 19.Nb1 Ra2 20.Qc1 h3 21.g4 (21.g3!? Qa7) 21...Bc4!

Position after 21. Bc4

After this move Valentina thought for a long time about her next move. She is in a miserable position. Most of her pieces are on the 1st rank. Black threatens 22. ... Rxe2+ mate. The bishop e2 must not move on on account of 22. ... Nxf3+ mate. Therefore the attacking bishop c4 cannot be taken. Probably she calculated that even the comparatively best move 22.Nc3 would leave Black with a huge Advantage, e. g. 22. ... Bxe2 23.Nxa2 Bxf3 24.Rg1 Bxd1 25.Kxd1 (25.Qxd1 Nxc5!) Qa7 26.Qc2 Rh4 27.Ne3 Nf3 28.Rf1 Nde5 White is a pawn down and it will be difficult to avoid the loss of a second one. Due to the awkward position of White's king Black threatens to win immediately by 29. Qd7+ 30.Kc1 Nd3+. Or White might play 22.Nc3 Bxe2 and now 23.Nxe2 Nxf3+ 24.Kf2 Nfe5 (better than 24. ... Nd4!?, because White will not take the queen, but play 25.Rd2) 25.Rg1 Nf6 26.Ke1 g5! Now 27.Bxg5? Nf3+ loses a piece. 27.Bg3 is bad, too: 27. ... Nf3+ 28.Kf2 Qc8! 29.Qb1 (the knight must not be taken because of 29. ... Qxg4+ 30.Ke3 Nd5+ and 31.Qxe2+ mate) Ra3. Finally 27.Bxe5 (best) Qxe5 White cannot prevent the loss of a second pawn and her king will have difficulties to find a safe shelter (28.Qb1? Rxe2+! 29.Kxe2 Nxe4 - +).


Perhaps a good practical decision. Valentina is hoping for Black to grab the exchange. (With the pawn on g3 she could have tried 22.Rd2 which now would fail on account of 22. Nxf3+! 23.Bxf3 Qxf4.)


Elisabeth did not think long about this move, but she should have done so! Otherwise she probably would have found 22. ... Nxf3+! 23.Bxf3 (or 23.Kf2 Bd4+! 24.Kxf3 Ne5+ - +) Ne5 (threatening both 24. ... Nxf3+ and 24. ... Nd3+) 24.Be2 Bxe2 25.Kxe2 Qd7! with decisive threats like 26. ... Qxg4+ or 26. ... Qd3+ with a mating attack or 26. ... Nd3 winning the queen.

23.Nc3 Ra8 24.Ng3 Bxd1 25.Qxd1 Nc4 26.Bxc4 bxc4 27.0-0 Ra3 28.Qc1 Rb3 29.f4 Nf6 30.g5 Nh5 31.Nge2 Rxb4?

In a rapid game everything can happen. Now White gets back the exchange. Elisabeth should have played 31...Qd7 instead.

32.Nd5! cxd5 33.Bxb4 dxe4 34.Qxc4 Qc6 35.f5 gxf5 36.Rxf5 e6 37.Rf1 0-0 38.Rd1 (38.Bc3!)

In this part of the game with only a few seconds left for every move it is of course almost impossible not to make mistakes. Therefore I shall only briefly mention some possible improvements.

38. ... Rb8 39.Kf2 Be5 (39. ... Bf8! - threatening 40. ... Rxb4! 41.Qxb4 Bxc5+ - 40.Ba3 e3+! 41.Kxe3 Qg2) 40.Bc3! (40.Kg1? e3!) 40. Bxh2 41.Qd4 e3+ 42.Kxe3!

42.Qxe3? Qg2+ 43.Ke1 Bg3+ 44.Nxg3 (44.Kd2? Bf4 winning the queen, because the white knight is pinned) Nxg3 45.Qe5 attacking both Black's king and rook Qg1+ 46.Kd2 Rd8+ 47.Kc2 Qxd1+ 48.Kb2 Qe2+! - + forcing the exchange of queens and preventing mate or 45.g6 Qf1+ 46.Kd2 Rd8+ 47.Bd4 Qg2+ - + .

42. ... e5 43.Qd6 Bf4+ 44.Nxf4 exf4+ 45.Kd3

45.Kd2 Qxd6+ 46.cxd6 h2 47.Rh1 Ng3 48.Rxh2 Nf1+ -+ or 47.Kc2! Ng3 48.d7 h1Q! 49.d8Q+ Rxd8 50.Rxd8+ Kh7 51.Rh8+ Kg6 52.Rxh1 Nxh1 53.Bf6 f3 54.Kd2 Kf5 55.Ke3 f2 56.Ke2 Kf4 57.g6 - White must prevent 57. ... Kg3 - fxg6 58.Bh4 Kg4 59.Bxf2 Nxf2 60.Kxf2 Kh3 with a won pawn endgame.

45. ... Qf3+ 46.Kc2 Qe4+ 47.Rd3 (after 47.Kd2 both Re8 and Ra8 should be winning) 47. Qe2+ (47. ... Qa4+!) 48.Bd2 (48.Kc1!) 48. Re8 (48. ... Qe8!) 49.g6! (49.Rxh3 f3 50.g6! was possible, too, but not 50.Rxh5? Qc4+! 51.Kb2 Ra8 or 51.Bc3 Re2+ or 51.Kb1 f2 or finally 51.Kd1 f2 52.Rh8+! Kxh8 53.Qf6+ Kg8 54.Qxf2 Qb3+ 55.Kc1 Re4! and White has no defense against the threatening 56. Rc4+ - + a beautiful variation) 49. h2 50.Qd5 Re6 51.Qd8+ (51.Rh3!) 51. Kg7 52.gxf7 Qxd3+?

The decisive mistake. 52...Kxf7 should be played, e. g. 53.Rd7+ (53.Qd7+ Kg6) Re7 54.Rxe7+ Qxe7 55.Qd5+ Qe6 56.Qb7+ Kf6 57.Bc3+ (57.Qh1 Qe2) Kf5! (57. ... Kg5? 58.Qg2+ would lose the valuable h-pawn).

53.Kxd3! In zeitnot Elisabeth may have missed this move. After 53.Qxd3? h1Q she wins. 53. ... Kf7: (53. h1Q 54.Qg8+) 54.Qh4

Now the h-pawn is successfully stopped. Therefore


Valentina defended very well and kept her almost lost game alive. Very impressive!

Elisabeth (left) and Valentina during the 2nd game of the final.

Elisabeth Paehtz Valentina Gunina

Final, 2nd game

In game 2 Elisabeth tried to win with an extra pawn, but Valentina defended accurately. Let's have a look at the position after Black's 90th move:

Position after Black's 90th move

The game went on:


91.Kc5? Nxf4 92.exf4 e3 - +

91. ... Nf6 92.Kc5

92.g5 Nd5 93.Kc5 Ne7 (94. ... Nxe3? 95.g6! + -) 94.d5+ Nxd5 95.Kd4 Ne7 96.Kxe4 Kf7 and White cannot win.

92. ... Nd5

92. ... Nxg4 was possible, too: 93.d5+ Kd7 94.Bg5 =

93.Bg5 Nc3 94.Kc6 Nd5 95.Bh6 Ne7+ 96.Kc7

A last attempt to win, but the black knight is too strong:

96. ... Nd5+! 97.Kd8 Nf6 98.g5 Nd5 99.Ke8 Nxe3 100.g6! Ng4!

100. ... hxg6? loses: 101.Bxe3 Kd5 102.Kf7 g5 103.Kf6 g4 104.Kf5 g3 105.Kf4 g2 106.Kf5! + - Black can no longer defend her pawn on e4.

101.gxh7 Nf6+

The knight is back just in time to eliminate White's passed pawn and neither side can win with only one pawn left. Therefore a draw was agreed.

Replay the games in a viewer

Left to right: Elisabeth Paehtz, Marta Michna, Valentina Gunina, Silje Bjerke and Olaf Koppe (Neues Deutschland).

With 1.5 : 0.5 Valentina successfully defended her title and will take part next year again.

In the little final Marta Michna won both games and became third ahead of Silje Bjerke.

The whole tournament was very well organized. In the commentator's room GM Thomas Paetz (Elisabeth's father) explained what was going on, and in another room little girls from Berlin and Brandenburg played against each other. Later on they had the opportunity to play in a simulteanous exhibiton with Marta Michna and professer Kjetil Jakobsen. Additionally a reader of "Neues Deutschland" had the honor to play two "blitz" games with Valentina Gunina and one of the girls did the same with Elisabeth Paehtz.

The organizers announced that in March 2014 the national women teams of Germany and Norway will play an exhibition match in Berlin. The German and Norwegian chess federations cooperate closely, because next year the Chess Olympiad will take place in Tromso/Norway.

Girls from Berlin and Brandenburg in action. A banana gives new energy.

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 03 December 2013 )
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