The Mövenpick Hotel was overcrowded at the start of the ninth round of the Women’s FIDE Grand Prix. Two special guests opened the round in front of the cameras of national TV. The Councillor of State and Head of the Canton of Vaud Department for Economics, Innovation and Sport, Philippe Leuba, played the symbolic first move for Ju Wenjun. A few seconds later, the racing cyclist European Champion Théry Schir opened the game for Marie Sebag.
Both decisive games of the day were also the longest. Nana Dzagnidze neutralized the World Champion’s aggressive intentions and took the advantage after the exchange of Queens. The Georgian correctly spurned a threefold repetition after the time-control and slowly but surely crushed Ju Wenjun. She crowned her game with a study-like flourish and overtook Aleksandra Goryachkina at the top of the standings. The Russian played a Berlin Defence against Marie Sebag and seemed happy with the same early move repetition that already had occurred in her third round with Abdumalik.
Pia Cramling went through another long battle but her opponent Alexandra Kosteniuk is known as a trained marathon runner. The Russian eventually squeezed a full point from a drawish endgame and inflicted the first defeat on the Swedish legend.
The encounter between Harika Dronavalli and Alina Kashlinskaya was as balanced as a true Exchange French can be. Nothing really happened there and both players shared the point on move 31. Anna Muzychuk and Antoaneta Stefanova produced some action in the middle game, but everything simplified quickly after the central advance 18...d5. Zhansaya Abdumalik sacrificed a pawn with Black on move 16 but failed to obtain full compensation for it. Her opponent Mariya Muzychuk did not play actively enough and suddenly had to proceed with caution to keep the balance. She was up to the task and secured a draw on move 40.
The long-awaited remake of the World Championship final between Aleksandra Goryachkina and Ju Wenjun will take place on Thursday’s round 10. Given Ju’s poor shape in Lausanne, the Russian will certainly try to take small revenge in her fight for the first place.
Results of round 9:
Harika Dronavalli (IND) – Alina Kashlinskaya (RUS) ½-½
Anna Muzychuk (UKR) – Antoaneta Stefanova(BLG) ½-½
Mariya Muzychuk (UKR) – Zhansaya Abdumalik (KAZ) ½-½
Pia Cramling (SWE) – Alexandra Kosteniuk (RUS) 0-1
Marie Sebag (FRA) – Aleksandra Goryachkina (RUS) ½-½
Ju Wenjun (CHN) – Nana Dzagnidze (GEO) 0-1
Standings after round 9:
1. Nana Dzagnidze (GEO) - 6 points
2. Aleksandra Goryachkina (RUS) - 5½
3-6. Alina Kashlinskaya (RUS), Anna Muzychuk (UKR), Mariya Muzychuk (UKR) and Zhansaya Abdumalik (KAZ) - 5
7. Harika Dronavalli (IND) - 4½
8-10. Pia Cramling (SWE), Ju Wenjun (CHN) and Antoaneta Stefanova (BUL) - 4
11-12. Marie Sebag (FRA) and Alexandra Kosteniuk (RUS) - 3
Program of round 10, March 12 at 3 pm:
Alina Kashlinskaya (RUS) – Nana Dzagnidze (GEO)
Aleksandra Goryachkina (RUS) – Ju Wenjun (CHN)
Alexandra Kosteniuk (RUS) – Marie Sebag (FRA)
Zhansaya Abdumalik (KAZ) – Pia Cramling (SWE)
Antoaneta Stefanova (BLG) – Mariya Muzychuk (UKR)
Harika Dronavalli (IND) – Anna Muzychuk (UKR)
Follow all the action live with commentary by grandmasters Mikhail Gurevich and Keti Tsatsalashvili on the tournament website http://wgp2019.fide.com.