In the second game of the final match Stefanova was commanding white pieces. She did not manage to gain advantage in the sharp opening line with the sacrifice of the central pawn. The reason is Ushenina did not accept the challenge and leaded the game to the territory, unknown for both players.

One can say that this draw is a small moral victory of Ushenina. In the five matches of this championship Stefanova won almost all “white” games, only Zhu Chen managed to escape this fate in the second round.  However, in the second game of the final Black not only balanced the position but could also create a dangerous counterplay.


Stefanova A. – Ushenina A. 

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4 Bb4 5.Bd2 dxc4 6.Nf3 b5 7.a4 a5 8.axb5 Bxc3 9.Bxc3 cxb5 10.Qd2


Stefanova: “We both were thinking a lot, although it is a very short game. My impression was that both of us could not remember how to play exactly. I think what she did was the best option, just to play Nf6, give the pawns and castle. If she tries to keep this pawn up, I think I have a very dangerous initiative.” 

11.Qg5 0–0 12.Qxb5 Nxe4 13.Bxc4



Ushenina: “I think that after the opening I got a good position. Maybe 13…Qc7 was not the best move. It was worth to trade on с4 with 13…Nd6, and then just develop the knight 15…Nd7 – the unclear game would start, and it can be that I am better.”

In fact, Black had a better idea to sacrifice a pawn herself and gain a strong initiative: 13…Nd6 14.Qb3 Nxc4 15.Qxc4, and here not 15…Nd7 recommended by Ushenina, but 15…Ba6, leaving White without the castle: 16.Qc5 Nd7 17.Qxa5 Qc8. White has a pawn up but Black has a very dangerous counterplay!

14.Qb3 a4 15.Rxa4 Rxa4 16.Qxa4 Nxc3 17.bxc3 Bb7



In this position the opponents agreed to a draw. Indeed, after the castle Black would take on f3, breaking the pawn structure of White and activating Black’s pieces. Even without capturing the pawn back instantly, Black would not let White improve her situation. Here is the sample variation of what could happen if the game continued: 18.0–0 Bxf3 19.gxf3 Nd7 20.Bb5 Nf6 21.Qc2 Qf4 22.Bc6 Rc8 23.Ra1 Nd5 24.Bxd5 exd5 25.Qd3 – the game is anyway a draw.


Stefanova: “Probably I had better options, but I did not see during the game. I thought that I play the best moves, but somehow I did not get anything. I will have to check the theory. I also did not see better moves for Black, her play seemed very logical to me.”

Meanwhile, Bulgarian team got strengthened – Silvio Danailov, President of European Chess Union and Bulgarian Chess Federation, and Nikolay Velchev, Executive Director of Bulgarian Chess Federation, came to Khanty-Mansiysk to support Stefanova.

Nikolay Velchev, Boris Postovsky and Silvio Danailov


Stefanova: “ I knew that Danailov and Velchev would come. At some point Danailov said that if I qualify to the final, they would come to support me which of course is very nice. I hope this will help me to win the final.”

Antoaneta also shared that the newcomers saved her from the literature hunger. The thing is that fanatic of reading Antoaneta already finished all the five books that she brought with her to Siberia, and even re-read two of them once again. Danailov and Velchev brought her few more books in Bulgarian, so now the finalist once again has the source of inspiration.

Cola is another inevitable Antoaneta’s companion at the tournaments