The decline of elite chess players, both men and women, usually begins between the ages of 35 and 40. But the facts indicate that Alexandra Kosteniuk, who will turn 39 in April, wants to be one of the exceptions. The Russian, residing in France, plays with the flag of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) and wants to change it soon for the Swiss one. Today she has clearly achieved her 3rd consecutive victory, over the German Dinara Wagner, in the Women’s Grand Prix that twelve players compete in Munich.
“I want to be free and understand very well the importance that this has,” Kosteniuk said last April after signing a manifesto against the invasion of Ukraine with 43 other Russian chess personalities. The former world champion (2008-2010) has dual Russian-Swiss nationality due to her first marriage to the Swiss of Colombian origin Diego Garcés, and she settled in France after marrying, in 2015, the great Russian master Pável Tregubov . She also said ten months ago that Russia will always be her “motherland”, but not long ago she leaked that she will soon start playing with the Swiss flag.
The permanent malaise that emerges from his public statements after the outbreak of the war does not prevent, however, an excellent performance on the board. She is the oldest player of the top 20 in the world, but with his victory today he rises to 8th place in the ranking. “I’m a bit tired because the game required a lot of calculation. There was a time when I could have looked for a brilliant shot, but experience has told me that it was better to win technically, without risk, ”she explained afterwards. In the first round she won an interesting fight with her ex-compatriot Alina Kashlínskaya (now Polish) and in the second she was lucky – very rare in elite chess – that her rival, the German Elisabeth Paethz, made a mistake of beginner.
However, Paethz has played today, with the black pieces, just as well as he did on the opening day, when he defeated Wagner. Her opponent was very strong this time, former world champion Zhongyi Tan. The German gave up a pawn for the initiative, which she seized with great vigor until she nearly overwhelmed the Chinese, who ripped a half point from the brink.
Apart from the draw on the first day between the two Ukrainian sisters, Mariya and Anna Muzychuk, today was the only discordant note in the very high level of combativeness of the tournament. And Anna Muzychuk has given it again, accepting the draw against the Georgian Nana Dzagnidze when she had an advantageous position and ten more minutes on the clock. She then explained that a miscalculation in previous plays left her confused.
The younger of the two Chinese, Jiner Zhu, 20, confirms her great potential for now. Today she has won without appeal against a tough rival, the Kazaka Zhansaya Abdumalik. Despite the fact that China has greatly relaxed its regulatory restrictions during the pandemic, Zhu has traveled to Munich without his coach, with whom he works online, and has barely been able to visit the city yet: “I spend a lot of time preparing each game,” he said. discussed later with the press officer, the Spanish Michael Rahal.
Third round: Tan – Paethz, tables; Kosteniuk-Wagner, 1-0; Harika – Kashlinskaya, draws; Abdumalik-Zhu, 0-1; M. Muzychuk – Koneru, draw; A. Muzychuk – Dzagnidze, draw.
Classification: 1st Kosteniuk 3 points; 2nd-4th Tan, Dzagnidze and A. Muzychuk 2; 5th-9th Zhu, Koneru, Harika, Paethz and M. Muzychuk 1.5; 10th Kashlinskaya 1; 11th Abdumalik 0.5; 12th Wagner 0.
Fourth round (15.00, Sunday): Wagner-Dzagnidze; Koneru–A.Muzychuk; Zhu–M. Muzychuk; Kashlinskaya – Abdumalik; Paehtz-Harika; Kosteniuk-Tan.
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