The finish line of the World Women’s Chess Championship is very near – the fate of the main title of the planet will be decided in a match of four games. Who will be the new Queen – Antoaneta Stefanova or Anna Ushenina? We will know already at the end of this week.  

Everything is ready for the start of the final match

The first game of the final match of the world championship ended in a raw. Anna Ushenina had white, but she was the one who had to defend.

Let’s give a word to the players, who commented the key moments of the game right after it was over.

 

Ushenina A. – Stefanova A.  

Antoaneta Stefanova surprised her opponent in the opening by her choice of Bogoliubov defence: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+

White’s choice is limited to the options of transposing to Nimzowitsch defense with 4.Nc3 or parrying the check interposing on d2. Anna Ushenina chose 4.Bd2 Bxd2+ 5.Qxd2 

 

 

Stefanova: I don’t know whether my opening choice surprised Anna, I guess only she herself can answer this question.

Ushenina: Bogoliubov defense… Usually she does not play like this, but I wouldn’t say that I did not expect that at all.

5.…d5 6.e3 0–0 7.Nc3 Qe7 8.Rc1 Rd8 9.cxd5 exd5 10.Bd3 Nbd7 11.0–0 c6 12.Qc2 Re8

By the 12th move the position was determined – objectively it is around equal, but White can try to use some pluses of her position.

Stefanova: I offered a draw in the opening, on move 12 or something. I found this line quite drawish, so I thought it is maybe better to save some energy for the next games.

13.Rb1 a5 14.a3 Ne4 15.b4 axb4 16.axb4 Ndf6 17.b5 Ra3

 

Stefanova: Probably she made a mistake with 18.Rb3 allowing Bg4.

White could prevent Black’s dangerous counterplay by 18.Bxe4 dxe4 19.Ne5

Ushenina: At some moment I guess I overestimated my position. I had to come in terms with the fact that it is equal but I continued to think that I am slightly better, made a couple of mistakes and the position became just lost.

18…Rxb3 19.Qxb3 Bg4

Stefanova: I think after this move Black is either winning or it is a draw. I guess White was not supposed to go for it

20.Bxe4

Ushenina: White could trade on e4 several times, maybe, I chose not the right moment for it, I could do it earlier. Perhaps Be4 was too early. I think I was to take on e4 after preparatory 20.Qc2, and in this case 20… Bxf3 is not dangerous because after 21.gxf3 Black has to retreat the knight and there is no check on g5.

20…Nxe4 21.Qc2 Bxf3 22.gxf3 Qg5+ 23.Kh1 Nxc3 24.Qxc3 Qh5 25.Kg2 Re6 26.Ra1 h6 27.bxc6 Rxc6 28.Qd3 

White went into a very unpleasant position – it seems that the pawns of the kingside are doomed… The “compensation” for it came in a form of the time trouble of Stefanova.

28…Rg6+ 29.Kf1 Qxf3 30.Ra8+ Kh7 31.Rb8

 

In this moment Black’s win slipped away after the move 31…f5?

Ushenina: Being short on time, Antoaneta did not get into the details of the position, made a few inaccurate moves and I managed to draw. Probably with her move 31…f5 Antoaneta missed the idea with 32.Rf8. She could just play 31…h5 and push the pawn.

Stefanova: I think I was winning at some point. Probably, 31…b5 instead of 31…f5. Yes, 31…h5 was also possible, but I think that 31…b5 is somehow easier, because if she takes 32.Rxb5 then 32…f5 works out. I was looking at the line 31…b5 32.Rxb5 f5 33.Rb2 Rg2 and just 34.Qe2, but it seems to be bad for White. Instead I let her activate her queen and rook. . It was very unclear with little time on the clock, I am sure there was something better for me.

32.Rf8 Rg5 33.h4 Rh5 34.Qc2

Stefanova: I saw the line that happened in the game when I played 31…f5. It is just that I missed this idea with Qc2 that she played. I thought that I have time for Kg6 and then can take a pawn or at some point convert to some rook endgame in my favor. I think she played very well in the time trouble, I missed my chance earlier I guess.

But after the move in the game Black has to cope with a draw, because White’s pieces are placed very active.

34…Qe4 35.Qc8 Qe7 36.Rxf5  Draw

 

Anna Ushenina has time for everything – both playing, and giving interviews