Chess - The Scotsman 08/03/13

Question: How does White win?

Today is International Women’s Day and to mark the occasion the World Chess Federation is staging the World Women’s Team championship in Astana, Kazakhstan. Ten teams qualified to play in the event, but Russia, the two-time Olympiad champions, were weakened by a dispute between their talismanic top stars, the Kosintseva sisters, Nadezhda and Tatiana, and the federation’s no-nonsense coach, Grandmaster Sergey Rublevsky.

The sisters made it clear that they were not exactly comfortable with the new coach “because of the psychological incompatibility.” The story goes that, during the last Olympiad, Rublevsky - in an effort to shake up his team going into the crucial final rounds - gave them a somewhat sexist hairdryer treatment that could well have frightened Sir Alex Ferguson.

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Regardless of the fact Rublevsky’s shock tactics worked, with Russia upping their game to capture gold, the Kosintsevas felt they could no longer play alongside the current coach, so opted not to play for Russia. There are even suggestions the dispute could escalate if the coach is not replaced, with the sisters threatening to switchfederations.

Despite this, Russia - with Alexandra Kosteniuk, Valentina Gunina, Natalia Pogonina, Alisa Galliamova and Olga Girya - seem to be coping. They are in a three-way tie at the top with China and Ukraine on seven points, though they have the advantage of a slender tiebreak lead. The big round-four match-up between Russia and China ended in a 2-2 draw.

V Gunina - Ju Wenjun

Women’s World Team Ch., (4)

English Opening

1 d4 d6 2 c4 e5 3 Nf3 Nd7 4 Nc3 g6 5 dxe5 dxe5 6 Bg5 f6 7 Bd2 Nc5 8 Qc2 Be6 9 e4 c6 10 Be2 Nh6 11 Rd1 Nd7 12 0–0 Nf7 13 Nh4 Bh6 14 Nf5 Bf8 15 Be3 Qc7 16 f4 exf4 17 Bxf4 Nfe5 18 Nd4 Bc5 19 Kh1 Bxd4 20 Rxd4 0–0 21 Qd2 Rae8 22 b3 Qa5 23 Rd6 Nc5 24 Bh6 Rf7 25 b4! Qxb4 26 Rd8 Rfe7 27 Rxf6 Ncd7 28 Nd5 Qa3 29 Qa5 Qd6 30 c5 1–0