FIDE Women’s Candidates 2024, Round 6: Second loss for Humpy, Vaishali on a day of decisive battles

Humpy became defending champion Lei Tingjie’s first victim, while Vaishali misread the positions more than once and lost rather tamely to Kateryna Lagno.

Published : Apr 11, 2024 11:54 IST , New Delhi - 3 MINS READ

Koneru Humpy became defending champion Lei Tingjie’s first victim.
Koneru Humpy became defending champion Lei Tingjie’s first victim. | Photo Credit: X | FIDE

Koneru Humpy became defending champion Lei Tingjie’s first victim. | Photo Credit: X | FIDE

In contrast to the joyous results from the Indian men, the sixth round saw K. Humpy and R. Vaishali lose with white pieces when all four boards produced decisive verdicts in the FIDE Women’s Candidates 2024 in Toronto.

A day after the games ended in draws, the women battled it out all the way. When the dust settled, three of the four winners emerged from the black side. Coincidently, on Tuesday, when the Indians suffered their second loss, the winners included two Russians and two Chinese.

Humpy became defending champion Lei Tingjie’s first victim after having won their previous three decisive games. Vaishali misread the positions more than once and lost rather tamely to Kateryna Lagno. Tan Zhongyi retained her half-point lead with a display of class during her victory over Anna Muzychuk. Rating-favourite Aleksandra Goryachkina worked her way to a targeted triumph against the lowest-rated Nurgyul Salimova.

Humpy was comfortably placed until her miscalculated pawn push on the 37th move. This allowed Lei to capture a vital queenside pawn and pave the way for a free-rolling pawn. With the players armed with a knight and a bishop each, Humpy resigned after realizing she had to give up her knight for the ‘queening’ pawn. Further, she could not capture the other black queenside pawn that potentially could become a ‘queen’. The fact that Humpy found fractionally under 90 per cent of first-choice moves to Lei’s 95.7 reflects that it was not her day.

READ | Candidates 2024, Round 6: Vidit, Praggnanandhaa bounce back with victories; Gukesh stays in joint lead

Vaishali first erred on the 21st move by underestimating the threat from Lagno. She went for a knight-capture on the queenside and lost the knight guarding her castled king. Soon, she missed Lagno’s tactical trick and lost a rook for a knight. She resigned when Lagno was preparing to forcibly gain a bishop.

Tan was the only winner from the white side on this day. The leader could have won a little earlier against Anna had she not gone for a flamboyant rook sacrifice. This ploy backfired as Tan lost her advantage, and left Anna with a defence. However, three moves later, Anna erred with a rook move that gave Tan another chance. She brought Anna’s king under check while coming with a smart queen-trade. Had Anna traded the queens, she would have had no way of stopping an advanced pawn from bringing Tan’s queen back on the board. Like Humpy, Anna too was left to deal with her second loss.

Goryachkina stayed close to Tan by patiently overpowering Salimova. Some quick moves of sub-optimal strength from the Bulgarian after the time control helped the Russian a great deal. Goryachkina kept the white king under pressure and pushed a queenside pawn to seize a decisive advantage.

Sixth-round results (Indians unless stated): K. Humpy (2) lost to Lei Tingjie (Chn, 3) in 48 moves in Kings Indian Classical; R. Vaishali (2.5) lost to Kateryna Lagno (FIDE, 3.5) in 29 moves in Ruy Lopez Marshall; Tan Zhongyi (Chn, 4.5) bt Anna Muzychuk (Ukr, 2) in 37 moves in Colle System; Nurgyul Salimova (Bul, 2.5) lost to Aleksandra Gorychkina (FIDE, 4) in 60 moves in Catalan.

Seventh-round pairings: Anna-Humpy; Lei-Vaishali; Lagno-Salimova; Goryachkina-Tan.

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