For the second time at this championship Antoaneta Stefanova heroically strikes back. As in her match against Marie Sebag, the Bulgarian player needed only a win in the fourth game of the final. The only difference is that now there was much more on stake – she could continue to fight for the world champion title, and not ‘just’ pass to the next round. That’s why the game was so nervous, despite the fact that Stefanova was very well prepared in the opening and got the advantage both at the board and on the clock. Anna Ushenina, on the contrary, did not feel herself too confident in this line and made some errors that led her into trouble.

The arrival of Danailov demonstrates Bulgarian ambition to return the women title to this country, and one with good imagination can create conspiracy theories about what forces were involved in the opening preparation of Stefanova on that day. Morally, she prepared in a quite simple way – put on a blouse with nice fur shoulders. This blouse has spent all this time in the closet, waiting for the decisive moment.

Antoaneta Stefanova: “I was in a very bad situation because I lost on the previous day so I had no choice, I had to play for a win and hope for the best. Yesterday I was in difficult situation and I spent a lot of time, then I lost the game. So today it was important to keep the pressure, also on the clock. It was a very nervous game for both of us, so I thought that the one who is better on time has a better chance to win”.

 

Stefanova,Antoaneta – Ushenina,Anna 

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.Bd3 0–0 8.0–0 dxc4 9.Bxc4 b5

 

 

10.Bd3 Bb7 11.a3 a5 12.e4 e5 13.Rd1 Qc7 14.h3 Rfe8 15.Be3 exd4 16.Nxd4 Bh2+ 17.Kh1 Bf4 18.Bxf4 Qxf4 19.Nce2

19…Qb8

Stefanova: “I think Anna did not play too well in the opening after 19.Nce2”.

20.Ng3

Stefanova: “In this moment I had an opportunity to win a pawn by capturing on c6.  But after the exchanges Black becomes very active and I think there is a good chance for a draw for Black, although White stays with an extra pawn. So I decided to keep the position how it is, where she has a little problem with the bishop on b7”.

The example variation of what could happen after the capture on c6: 20.Nxc6 Bxc6 21.Qxc6 Ne5 22.Qxb5 Nxd3 23.Qxd3 Nxe4

20…Ne5 21.Bf1

 

21…Rc8

Stefanova: “ I decided to go for her king. Anna did not find the right defense. This maneuver Rc8-c7 I did not like. I mean I liked it, but I don’t think it’s very strong”. (smiling)

22.Ndf5 Rc7 23.Qc3 Rd7 24.f4 Rxd1 25.Rxd1 Ng6 26.Nh6+ gxh6 27.Qxf6 Qf8 28.Nf5 c5

 

29.Bxb5

Stefanova: “Probably I made a mistake here that I did not take the queen, but I thought that 30.Nd6 also wins. Maybe I should not have played 29.Bb5, moving the rook instead 29.Rd7: 29…Bxe4 30.Rxf7 Bxf5 31.Rxf8+ Rxf8 32.Qd6 should be won for White, because the pawns of the queenside fall very quickly.

There was another tempting opportunity 29.Rd7 Bxe4 30.Nxh6+ Qxh6 31.Qxf7+ Kh8 32.Qf6+ Kg8 33.Qe6+ Kh8 34.Qxe4

It was difficult to choose because everything looked winning. Normally when you have a lot of options, you make a mistake. I thought for more than 10 minutes in this position, and I calculated the line that happened in the game so I played 29. Bb5”.

29…Bxe4 30.Nd6 Rd8 31.Rd2

31…Bb1

Stefanova: “Luckily for me, she also made a mistake with 31…Bb1, otherwise I could regret about my choice on the 29th move. She should have played 31…Ba8, but after 32.Bc4 Qe7, I think that White is winning anyway, for instance 33.Qxf7+ Qxf7 34.Bxf7+ Kf8 35.Bxg6 hxg6 36.Nc4”.

32.Nxf7

Stefanova: “I saw this idea beforehand”.

32…Rxd2 33.Nxh6+

1–0

 

The 4th game of the final attracted a lot of journalists

Of course, because it could become the last one! 

One can bet, there will be even more fuzz on the day of tie-break when we will know the name of the new world champion