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Monika Socko Won GM Tournament in Erfurt

User Rating: / 21
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 03 September 2014

Stephan Oliver Platz reports from Erfurt/Germany

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Part I of the report

When GM Monika Socko started with two consecutive losses, nobody thought that she would win the Erfurt tournament, but she did! After 9 rounds she had scored 6 1/2 points winning 6 of the next 7 games with only one draw. Former leader GM Bela Khotenashvili from Georgia came in second with 6 points. In her last game against Tatyana Melamed she missed a promising continuation and the game finally ended in a draw.

IM Shen Yang from China had the chance to achieve a GM norm and catch up with Monika Socko, but in the last round she was defeated by Russian IM Anastasia Bodnaruk while IM Lela Javakishvili and IM Elisabeth Paehtz drew their game. As a result Shen Yang, Lela Javakhishvili and Elisabeth Paehtz had 5 1/2 points each and shared the prizes for 3rd - 5th place. According to tiebreak rules Shen Yang ranks as 3rd, Lela Javakishvili as 4th and Elisabeth Paehtz as 5th in the cross table.

For Anastasia Bodnaruk the tournament had begun terribly with 1 out of 4. At a common supper with the organizers and other players on Wednesday evening she was in a bad mood, kept silent most of the time, but from the next day on a different Anastasia showed up winning three games in a row. In round 8 she lost against Bela Khotenashvili, but won her last game against Shen Yang and became 6th with 5 out of 9, only half a point behind the trio on 3rd - 5th place. IM Lilit Mkrtchian scored 3 1/2 points, followed by GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant (3 points), WGM Tatyana Melamed (3) and IM Ketino Kachiani-Gersinska (1 1/2).

Left to right: Monika Socko, Bela Khotenashvili, Shen Yang, Lela Javakhishvili and Elisabeth Paehtz.

Monika Machlik wins junior tournament

The international women's junior tournament in Erfurt was won by Monika Machlik (6 1/2 points) ahead of WFM Alisa Frey and her twin sister Edit Machlik (both 5 1/2). Teodora Rogozenco became 4th with 5 points, followed by Alina Zahn, Tran My Ling and Josefine Heinemann (4 1/2 each), Fiona Sieber (4), Nezihe Ezgi Menzi (3) and Sarah Hund (2). Just like Monika Socko in the GM tournament Monika Machlik had lost the first two games (against her sister Edit and Teodora Rogozenco, cf. my first report), but then recovered and won all remaining games with only one draw. What a coincidence!

Left to right: Monika Machlik, Edit Machlik and Alisa Frey.

Christina Winterholler is the new international German women's champion

In the international open German women's championship Christina Winterholler was the deserved winner. After 9 rounds Swiss system she had scored 8 points (7 wins and 2 draws without a single loss). Christina lives in Ingolstadt (Bavaria). Her coach and father at the same time is IM Alexander Maier who was born in Russia (Ural region) and lived in Moldavia for years, before he finally came to Germany where his daughter was born in 1996. Christina began to learn chess when she was seven years old and is certainly a very good and talented chess player. Next year she will have the opportunity to compete in the closed German women's chess championship. With a distance of 1 1/2 points Anastasia Erofeev from Germany became second ahead of Lena Georgescu (Switzerland) and Daria Shmarina (Russia). WFM Ileana Rogozenco from Romania came in 5th (5 1/2 points), followed by 5 players with 5 points each: Sonja Noll, Madita Mönster, Ha Thanh Nguyen, Dr. Gabriele Just (all of them from Germany) and Siegrun MacGilchrist (Scotland).

Left to right: Wolfgang Fiedler (chief arbiter), Anastasia Erofeev, Christina Winterholler and Lena Georgescu.

Chess with "living pieces"

A special highlight of the whole event took place Saturday afternoon. First a famous game won by World Champion Dr. Emanuel Lasker against J. H. Bauer (Amsterdam 1889) was replayed with living pieces in historical costumes by the so called "Stroebecker Schachensemble". Stroebeck is a German village with a long chess tradition (since 1651). After this historical game the spectators saw two dance performances, one of them from the musical Chess.

Lasker's famous game against Bauer from Amsterdam 1889 with the legendary double Bishop sacrifice was replayed with living pieces.

The Stroebecker Schachensemble in action. They are dancing to a melody from the musical Chess.

Monika Socko wins blitz tournament ahead of Anastasia Bodnaruk

Afterwards a blitz tournament was played in an Erfurt shopping center. Most of the 20 participants came from the GM and junior tournaments. Only Elisabeth Paehtz who at the same time gave a simultaneous exhibition was replaced by Swiss WGM Barbara Hund. After 9 rounds Swiss system GM Monika Socko from Poland was successful with 7 points ahead of IM Anastasia Bodnaruk from Russia who had scored 7 points, too. IM Shen Yang from China became 3rd and IM Lilit Mkrtchian from Armenia 4th (6 1/2 points each). A big surprise was the 5th place of the young Josefine Heinemann from Germany (6 points) ahead of WGM Tatyana Melamed (Germany, 5 1/2), GM Bela Khotenashvili (Georgia, 5), GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant (Scotland, 5), IM Lela Javakhishvili (Georgia, 4 1/2), Monika Machlik (Norway, 4 1/2) and ten other players, among them one IM, one WGM and one WFM.

The blitz tournament caused a lot of excitement in an Erfurt shopping center.

For the following game Monika Socko won a special brilliancy prize for the best game of round 3:

Lela Javakishvili - Monika Socko

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+

Bogoljubov's variation.


4.Nc3 b6 5.Bg5 Bb7 6.e3 = or 4. ... Bxc3+ 5.bxc3 b6 6.g3 Bb7 7.Bg2 = Bogoljubov - Nimzovich (Karlsbad 1929). After 4.Bd2 several moves have been tried: 4. ... Bxd2+, 4. ... Qe7, 4. ... a5!?, 4. ... c5!? or even 4. ... Be7.

4. ... o-o 5.a3 Be7!?

By 5. ... Bxd2+, followed by b7-b6 and Bc8-b7 Black can avoid e2-e4.

6.e4 d5 7.e5 Nfd7 8.Bd3 c5 9.h4!

As a consequence of Black's passive 5th move White has gained space and threatens to win immediately with the well-known Bishop sacrifice on h7: 10.Bxh7+! Kxh7 11.Ng5+, e. g. 11. ... Kh6 12.Nb3 Kg6 and now White wins easily by 13.h5+ or 13.Qd3+. If 11. ... Kg6, then 12.Ndf3 + -; or 11. ... Bxg5? 12.hxg5+ Kg6 13.Qh5+ Kf5 14.Qh7+ or 14.Qh3+ and mate will follow soon;
or 11. ... Kg8? 12.Qh5 and again Black has no defense.

9. ... g6

The principle alternative is 9. ... h6.

10.h5 cxd4

Black wants to answer 11.hxg6 with 11. ... fxg6 12.Qc2 (threatening 13.Bxg6!) 12. ... Qe8. 11. ... hxg6 (instead of 11. ... fxg6) is not so good because of 12.cxd5 exd5 13.e6! (or 12. ... Nc5? 13.Ne4! + -). If White tries to enhance the pressure on g6 by 11.Qc2 without playing 11.hxg6 first, Black uses the opportunity for neutralizing White's King's Bishop by 11. ... Nc5! 12.Be2 d3! 13.Bxd3 Nxd3+.

11.cxd5 exd5 12.Nb3

Now 12.e6 is not as strong as in the variation given above because of 12. ... Nc5.

12. ... Nc6 13.Bf4

13.hxg6 opens the h-file, but after 13. ... fxe6 I don't see any really convincing continuation e. g. 14.e6 Nde5! =+ or 14.Bh6 Rxf3! 15.Qxf3 (or 15.gxf3) Nde5 and here, too, Black seems to have the better game. But 13.e6 may be played, e. g. 13. ... Nde5 (13. ... fxe6? 14.hxg6! + -) and now 14.exf7+ Rxf7 15.hxg6 =.

13. ... g5 14.Bg3

14.Bc2? gxf4 15.Qd3 is parried by 15. ... f5 16.exf6 e. p. Nxf6 protecting h7 - +.

14. ... g4 15.e6!?

An interesting Pawn sacrifice. Instead 15.Nfxd4 Ndxe5 could be played. Black is a Pawn up, but her King's side is weakened by the advance of her g-Pawn.

15. ... fxe6

Monika Socko avoids 15. ... gxf3 16.exd7 fxg2 17.Rg1! Bxd7 18.Rxg2, probably because of the open g-file, but 18. ... Re8 seems to be a good defense, e. g. 19.Bc7+? Bg5+! 20.Kf1 Qf6 or 19.Kf1 Bh3 20.Kg1 Bxg2 21.Qg4+ Kh8 22.Kxg2 (22.Qf5? Be4) 22. ... Rg8! 23.Qf5 Rg7 24.h6 Rg6 25.Nxd4 Rxh6 (25. ... Nxe5? 26.Qxf7 =) 26.Rh1 Qf8!. Perhaps White can try the crazy looking move 19.Kd2!? The idea is to bring the King to a2 and then launch an attack with all of her pieces against Black's weakend King's position, e. g. 19. ... Kh8 20.Kc2! Bf6 21.Kb1 Ne5 22.Bxe5 Bxe5 23.Ka2 with a sharp and unclear position. If White's attack fails, Black's extra material will prove decisive.

16.Nfxd4 Nde5 17.Bc2 Bf6 18.o-o Qe7

18. ... Qe8!? 19.Nxc6 bxc6 (better than 19. ... Nxc6 20.Qxg4+ or 19. ... Qxc6 20.Re1!) 20.Bxe5 (20.h6!? Qh5) 20. ... Bxe5 21.Qxg4+ Kh8 looks good, too.

19.h6 Kh8 20.Re1 Bd7 21.Nxc6 Nxc6

After 21. ... bxc6? 22.Rxe5! is even stronger than 22.Bxe5, e. g. 22. ... Bxe5? 23.Bxe5+ Kg8 24.Qxg4+ Kf7 25.Bxh7 Ke8 26.Bg8! + - White threatens h6-h7-h8Q. Or 23. ... Rf6 (instead of 23. ... Kg8) 24.Qd3! Raf8 25.Bd6! + - Black's Queen cannot defend h7 and Rf8 at the same time.

22.Qxg4 e5

After 22. ... Bxb2 23.Rad1! Black can grab a second Pawn, but it brings her no advantage, e. g. 23. ... Bxa3 (23. ... Qxa3 24.Rxd5!) 24.Nd4! Rg8 25.Nxc6 Rxg4 26.Nxe7 Bxe7 27.Rxd5!.

23.Qe2 Rg8

Black has given back her extra Pawn, but now she has an ideal center (e5/d5) and the open g-file for her Rook.


24.Qe3 is better. We'll see soon, why.

24. ... Be6 25.Na5?

Again 25.Qe3 should have been played, but Black's position is already better.

25. ... Rxg3!

A nice sacrifice of the exchange.


Or 26.fxg3 Qc5+ winning the Knight on a5. With the Queen on e3 and the Knight on b3 White could play 26.Qxg3.

26. ... Rxg2+! 27.Kxg2 bxc6

First 27. ... Rg8+ 28.Kf1 and now 28. ... bxc6 would have been still stronger, but White is lost anyhow. Two powerful Bishops, strong center Pawns and the open g- and f-files more than compensate for the sacrificed exchange.

28.Rg1 e4 29.Rae1

29.Kf1 Rf8;
29.Ba4? d4!.

29. ... Be5 30.Kf1! Rf8 31.Re2 Rf4

31. ... Bc8!?


32.Ke1 Qf6! 33.Bb3 Qxh6 34.Qe3 Bg4 35.Rd2 (35.Rc2? d4! - +) 35. ... Qf6 36.Qxa7 h5! - +.

32. ... d4! 33.Bxc6

33.Ke1 d3! 34.Re3 Qh4 - +.

33. ... e3! 34.Qc2 Qh4

Now Black wants to play 35. ... d3! 36.Qxd3 Rxf2+.

35.Bb5 Qh2!

Threatening 36. ... Bh3+. White has no satisfactory defense.

36.Bc6 d3!

and White resigned, for if 37.Qxd3, then 37. ... Rxf2+ and mates next move or 37.f3 dxe2+ 38.Qxe2 Bc4! The Bishop must not be taken on account of 39.Qxc4? Qf2+ mate, therefore 39.Rg8+ Kg8:! 40.Qxc4+ Rxc4 41.Bd5+ Kf8 White gets the Rook, but is mated on f2: 42.Bxc4 Qf2+ mate. A last attempt: 39.Rg2 Rxf3+ 40.Bxf3 Qh1+! 41.Rg1 Qxf3+ White's Queen is pinned by Bc4 and cannot retake 42.Ke1 Qxe2+ mate. The same Bc4-idea leads us to another winning combination: 36. ... Rxf2+! 37.Rxf2 Bc4+.

A beautiful attacking game, first by White, then by Black.

Lela Javakhishvili vs Bela Khotenashvili, Anastasia Bodnaruk vs Lilit Mkrtchian (in the middle), Tatyana Melamed vs Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant (in the background)

Anastasia Bodnaruk was the only participant from Russia in the GM tournament. In round 7 she played an exciting game:

Anastasia Bodnaruk - Lilit Mkrtchian

1.e4 e6 2.d3

Most players prefer 2.d4. One of the first famous players who tried to avoid 2.d4 was the great Russian grandmaster and two times world championship contender Michail Chigorin who played 2.Qe2 with the idea d2-d3 and g2-g3. Black should not answer 2. ... d5, for after 3.exd5 the e-Pawn is pinned and cannot retake while 3. ... Qxd5 4.Nc3 loses time and space. Black can prepare d7-d5 by 2. ... Be7, but most frequently 2. ... c5 is played.

2. ... d5

2. ... c5 can lead to positions of the closed Sicilian.

3.Nd2 Nf6 4.Ngf3

4.g3 c5 is possible, too.

4. ... b6 5.c3 c5 6.e5

If White doesn't want to advance her e-Pawn she can play 6.Be2 Be7 (or 6. ... Bb7) 7.o-o =.

6. ... Nfd7 7.d4

Now a typical French structure is on the board.

7. ... Be7 8.Bb5 Ba6

Black wants to get rid of her "bad" Bishop.


If the Bishop had been played to d3 this move wouldn't have been possible.

9. ... Qc8

After 9. ... Bxb5 10.axb5 Black has difficulties to develop her Queen's Knight.

10.o-o Nc6 11.Qe2! Bb7

11. ... Bxb5 12.axb5! +=

12.dxc5 bxc5 13.b3 Nf8

A better possibility to put pressure on White's e5-Pawn is 13. ... Qc7. The Knight shall be brought to g6, but instead of two moves (Ng8-e7 and Ne7-g6) Black needs four (Ng8-f6, Nf6-d7, Nd7-f8 and Nf8-g6) thus losing two valuable tempi. 13. ... a6 is better than the text move, too. White must either retreat her Bishop (14.Bd3) or exchange (14.Bxc6).


Anastasia will win this game. She had such a bad start in this tournament (1 out of 4), but now she wants to win her third game in a row. The text move weakens her King's position, but at the same time might drive away a black Knight from g6 by h4-h5 later on.

14. ... a6 15.Bd3 Ng6

15. ... Qc7 16.Re1.


16.h5? Nf4.

16. ... f6

Black wants to give her Knight the e5-square.

17.exf6 gxf6 18.h5 Nge5 19.Bb1 Nf7 20.c4!?

Is there anything better for White? 20.Re1 Nce5 21.Nxe5 fxe5! (21. ... Nxe5? 22.f4!).

20. ... d4!

White's 20th move was a little risky, for Black now gets pressure on the long diagonal a8-h1 and she has a passed Pawn on d4, too.


Perhaps first 21.Re1 e5 and then 22.Nh4 is stronger.

21. ... Nd6

22. ... Nce5!? (23.f4? Rg8! 24.fxe5 Rxg3+ 25.Kh2 Re3 26.Qd1 Rxe5 with good attacking chances for the sacrificed piece).

An interesting idea is the Pawn sacrifice 21. ... d3! with the intention to win a tempo by 22.Qxd3 Nce5 23.Qe2 (probably best) 23. ... f5. Now Black has a very unpleasent threat: 24. ... Bxh4 25.gxh4 Rg8+ - +. Therefore White must play either

a) 24.Ng2 Rg8 25.Kh2 (25.Bb2? Qc6!, therefore White protects her g-Pawn) 25. ... Qc6 26.f3 (26.f4 Ng4+) 26. ... o-o-o. Black has a splendid development, powerful pressure along the diagonal a8-h1, both Rooks on open files and therefore more than enough compensation for the sacrificed Pawn. Black wants to continue with 27. ... Bf6, 27. ... Rg5 or 27. ... Qd6 (threatening 28. ... Rxg3!) while White will have difficulties to find a satisfactory defense.


b) 24.Bb2 counterattacking Black's Knight (24. ... Bxh4 25.Bxe5). But instead of taking the Knight Black can play 24. ... Qc6! threatening 25. ... Qh1+ mate 25.f3 (the only defense) 25. ... Bxh4! with good perspectives for Black after 26.gxh4 Rg8+ or 26.Bxe5 Nxe5. Let's have a closer look at this last variation. White cannot play 27.gxh4? Rg8+, e. g. 28.Kh1 (or 28.Kf2 Qd6! defending e5 and threatening Qd4+ - +; 28.Kh2 Qc7! - +) 28. ... o-o-o! with a huge advantage (29.Qxe5? Rxd2 threatening 30. ... Qxf3+!). Or 29.Ra2 Rd4! - +. Therefore 27.Qxe5 is forced: 27. ... o-o-o! with great attacking chances, e. g. 28.gxh4? Rg8+ or 28.Be4 (probably best) 28. ... fxe4 29.Nxe4 Rhg8 -+.

22.Re1 Nd8

22. ... Ne5!? (23.f4 Qc6! 24.Kh2 d3! like in the gambit variation mentioned above).

23.f4 Qc6 24.Kh2 Kd7?

Black should prevent moves like a4-a5 or b3-b4 by playing 24. ... a5. The King is not well placed at d7 either. After 24. ... o-o 25.Qg4+ Kh8 (25. ... Kf7? 26.Bg6+!) White can either try 26.Qh3 threatening 27.Ng6+! or force a draw by 26.Bh7: Kh7: 27.Qg6+ and 28.Qh6+, etc. Cannot Black avoid the perpetual check advantageously by 26. ... f5? No, she can't, because White plays 27.Qg6! Bxh4 28.gxh4 (now Black cannot mate on g2, because White's Queen covers the g2-square) 28. ... Qd7 29.Qh6! and it is obvious that Black mustn't take on h7 while 29. ... Qg7 30.Qxg7+ Kxg7 31.Bg6 lets White's Bishop escape and 29. ... N8f7 once again leads to a perpetual check: 30.Qf6+! Kh7: 31.Qg6+ Kh8 32.Qf6+, etc. Let's stay at this pretty variation a little longer. White should not try to avoid the perpetual check either, because after 32.Rg1? (instead of 32.Qf6+) Black parries the attack by 32. ... Rg8, e. g. 33.Qf6+ Kh7 34.Rg6 Qc6 35.Ba3 Qg2+! (a pretty Queen sacrifice) 36.Rxg2 Rxg2+ 37.Kh3 Rag8! 38.Nf1 Rg1 39.Ra2 Rxf1 - +. There is no satisfactory defense against 40. ... Rh1+.


Preventing a6-a5. 25.b4 cxb4 26.Bb2 looks good, too.

25. ... e5 26.Nf5 N8f7 27.b4! cxb4 28.Bc2

28.fxe5!? fxe5 29.Nxd4! (28. ... Nxe5! 29.Nxd4 Qc5 is a little better). After the text move Black must parry the threat 29.Ba4!.

28. ... Kd8 29.Ng7

29.Nxd4 exd4 30.Qxe7+ Kc8 = White has won back her Pawn, but she must deal with Black's mating threats.

29. ... Qc8

Black doesn't want a white Knight at e6.

30.c5! Nb5?

30. ... Qxc5? 31.Ne6+

The best defense was 30. ... Rg8! 31.cxd6 Nxd6 32.Bd3 Rxg7 33.fxe5 fxe5 34.Qxe5 Rf7 and now White should not play 35.Qxd4 because of 35. ... Qc3!, but 35.Nb3! = (35. ... Qc3? 36.Nc5! + -).


Now White has a clear advantage.

31. ... Qc6 32.Be4 Qd7

32. ... Qc8 33.Qc4! + -


Here, too, 33.Qc4! would have been best. White is threatening 34.c6, 34.Qxf7 and 34.Ne6+ at the same time. What shall Black do?

33. ... Bc8 with the idea 34.Qxf7? Qh3+ runs into 34.Bf5!

33. ... Bf8 protecting Nf7 and attacking Ng7 doesn't help either because of 34.c6!

33. ... Bxe4 34.Nxe4 brings White's Knight to a better square 34. ... Nh6 (34. ... Bf8 35.Nxf6) 35.c6! Qc8 (or 35. ... Qa7 36.Qe6 + -) 36.fxe5 Ng4+ 37.Kg2 Nxe5 38.Qd5+ or 37. ... fxe5 38.Ne6+ Ke8 39.Rf1 with the superior game + -.

33. ... Qxb7 34.Qc4 Nh6

34. ... Bf8 35.c6! +-.

35.c6! Qc8 36.Qd5+ Kc7!

If Bishop or Knight interposes White wins with 37.Nc4, e. g. 36. ... Nd6 37.Nc4 Qb8 38.c7+! Kxc7 (38. ... Qxc7 39.Ne6+) 39.fxe5 Ng4+ 40.Kh3 + - or 36. ... Bd6 37.Nc4 Ke7 (37. ... Qb8 38.fxe5) 38.Nxd6 Nxd6 39.fxe5 + -.


Here 37.fxe5! Ng4+ 38.Kg1 should have been played. 38. ... Ne3 can be met by 39.Ne6+ Kb8 40.Rxe3! dxe3 41.Nc4 Nc3 (41. ... Nc7 42.Nxc7 + -) 42.c7+! Qxc7! (42. ... Ka7? 43.Bxe3+) 43.Nxc7 (better than 43.Qxa8+) 43. ... Nxd5 44.Nxd5 and wins. Probably both players were in time trouble.

37. ... Ra7?

Lilit Mkrtchian misses the opportunity to play 37. ... Nc3! 38.Ne6+ Kb8 39.c7+ Ka7 40.Qc6 Qb7. White can continue with

41.Qb6+ Qxb6 42.axb6+ Kb7 43.Nxd4! = or

41.Nxd4 Ng4+! 42.Kg2 = or 42.Kh3 Nf2+ 43.Kh2! = or

41.Qd7 Ng4+ 42.Kh3 Nf2+ 43.Kh2 Ng4+ = (avoiding the repetition of moves is possible, too, but risky for both players)

38.fxe5 Ng4+ 39.Kg2 fxe5

40.Nb6! Qg8 41.Qd7+ Kb8 42.Qxg4 Bf6 43.h6

and Black resigned.

In the "Sportsbar" of the Radisson Blu Hotel the German GM Thomas Luther discussed the games with numerous spectators and gave several pieces of advice about chess strategy for free.

The organizers and arbiters did a very good job, and several spectators came into the playing hall every day. I'm looking forward to the next women's chess festival in Erfurt which shall take place in 2016.

Copyright 2014 by S. O. Platz

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