Kolkata: Reigning world champion Ju Wenjun on Monday displaying her tactical move at the crucial moments, emerged as the winner of Women’s tournament of Tata Steel Chess India Blitz 2023.
It was very close fight between Ju Wenjun, Koneru Humpy and Harika Dronavalli.
Harika on Sunday finished at the top after 9 rounds. On Monday she started from where she left and continued her stride. But at the middle of the day’s play Ju Wenjun stayed firm in her game and with her tactical moves she overcame to become the winner.
GM Harika Dronavalli continued to push forward with a win over WIM Savitha Shri. GM Irina Krush brought up her 5th consecutive victory and continued her hot streak with a huge win over World Champion, GM Ju Wenjun.
GM Ju Wenjun escaped defeat after evading a completely lost position in the middlegame against IM Vantika Agrawal. It was followed GM Ju Wenjun won her game against IM Polina Shuvalova to crawl up the leader board. Then GM Koneru Humpy played a flawless game to get the better of WIM Savitha Shri.
GM Ju Wenjun won an important game against GM Nino Batsiashvili with the black pieces.
It just couldn’t get closer than this. Going into the penultimate round, GM Koneru Humpy, GM Harika Dronavalli, and GM Ju Wenjun were in a three-way tie for the top spot with 10.5/16. In close pursuit was the rapid champion, IM Divya Deshmukh, half a point behind at 10 points.
IM Vantika Agrawal scored a huge win over joint tournament leader, GM Harika Dronavalli. This loss massively dented Dronavalli’s chances for the title. Agrawal played a clinical game giving no chances whatsoever, overcoming the Indian No. 2 in 37 moves.
GM Koneru Humpy’s game ended in a draw against GM Anna Ushenina. Towards the later half of the game, Humpy was staring at defeat being a couple of pawns down.
However, she found a perpetual checking combination to save the game in the end. GM Ju Wenjun scored the all- important win against WIM Savitha Shri to go into sole lead, inching half a point ahead of the competition.
The position was level until move 23, after which Savitha’s minor inaccuracies paved the way to Wenjun’s victory.
GM Ju Wenjun was leading the event by half point heading into the final round of the Tata Steel Chess Women’s Blitz Championship. GM Koneru Humpy was in hot pursuit half a point behind, while IM Divya Deshmukh and GM Harika Dronavalli were tied for third.
GM Koneru Humpy avenged her last round defeat in the rapid section with a clean victory over IM Divya Deshmukh in the Blitz section. Humpy maneuvered her knights expertly in the endgame to put pressure on Deshmukh’s weak pawns.
Eventually, the Indian No. 2 won material which proved enough to force the issue. GM Harika Dronavalli went down fighting against IM Polina Shuvalova. A bit of an anti-climax as Dronavalli failed to score in the last 2 games, having played so well throughout the tournament.
With the other results out, all eyes were on GM Ju Wenjun as she was fighting it out against GM Anna Ushenina. The position was complicated and the game could have swung in either way.
The World Champion was up on material, but Ushenina had a strong attack going. Wenjun brought all the experience into play, simplifying the position and exchanging the pieces. Soon enough, Wenjun’s Queen and Rook proved too strong against Ushenina’s Queen and Knight as the game ended in favor of the Chinese after 74 long moves.
With the win, Wenjun clinched the Blitz segment of the Tata Steel Chess Indian Women’s Championship 2023.