Recap of Everything: Women's World Championship, Aeroflot and the U.S. Championships
Saturday, April 4, 2015 at 7:23PM
Dennis Monokroussos in 2015 U.S. Championship, 2015 Women's World Championship KO, Aeroflot 2015, Dortmund 2015

(Not literally everything, of course; that might take a while.)

The women's world championship tournament could have come to an end today, and it was close. Natalia Pogonina lost the previous game and needed to make something of her last white in game 3. After a very complicated opening resulted in a middlegame where Pogonina had a piece for three pawns, it seemed that she had the better chances for a good while. To keep and try to grow that advantage, she needed to try f4-f5 at some moment - on move 29, for example - in order to open lines for her extra piece and to clear f4 for the knight. When she delayed too long her opponent, Mariya Muzychuk, was able to lock up the white pieces and steadily encroach into her opponent's territory. I don't know if she was ever winning, but she was close. Pogonina's 43.f5 was perhaps a case of better late than never: it didn't offer her any winning chances by this point, but it had some of the same virtues as before; in particular helping the sidelined knight from h3 return to the fray. White soon returned the piece, and although she didn't get all three of her pawns back she was still able to save the game. Tomorrow Pogonina will have to win with Black to force tiebreaks; otherwise, it's over and Muzychuk is the new world champion.

About the Aeroflot Open I will say very little. Only this: Daniil Dubov defeated Lu Shanglei in the last round to tie for first with Ian Nepomniachtchi, who only drew his game. Unfortunately for Dubov, Nepomniachtchi had the better tiebreaks, which meant the latter won the big prize: qualification to the Dortmund super-tournament at the end of June.

On to the U.S. Championships. Today the marquee matchup took place between Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So, and it was a dramatic game. So was doing alright until his 28th move, 28...g5, which he regretted the moment Nakamura played 29.f4. This gave White a significant edge, but it didn't last long. After 29...gxf4 30.Qf2 Nh4 Nakamura blundered with 31.Bxf4?/??, missing the shot 31...Nf3+. In a move Nakamura went from clearly better to clearly worse, but despite a prolonged bout of head-shaking he kept his concentration and defended well. So enjoyed a tax-free extra pawn in the endgame, but Nakamura managed to reach a rook ending. All rook endings are drawn, according to the ancient wisdom of our forebears, so Q.E.D. In fact, all six games on the "men's" side were drawn. Nakamura and Robson remain the co-leaders with 3/4.

In the women's section there were only two draws. One was round 3 co-leader Rusudan Goletiani's game against Paikidze. That allowed Katerina Nemcova to take over clear first with 3.5/4, thanks to her win with Black against Alisa Melekhina. Goletiani is in clear second, while Paikidze, Irina Krush (who defeated Apurva Vikud) and Sabina Foisor (who defeated Annie Wang) have 2.5 points. Tatev Abrahamyan won her second straight game, and she has 2/4.

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