Kosteniuk Annotates
By GM Alexandra Kosteniuk   
December 8, 2008
GM Alexandra Kosteniuk just after winning the Women's World Championship. Photo courtesy chesspics.com
World Women's Champion GM Alexandra Kosteniuk annotated her Ruy Lopez win over GM Hou Yifan to accompany her December Chess Life Magazine interview with CLO editor Jennifer Shahade. Login as a USCF member to read the Kosteniuk-Shahade interview. For more on CLO on Kosteniuk, check out Jerry Hanken's interview with her right after her big win.


Hou,Yifan (2557) - Kosteniuk,Alexandra (2510) [C90] Women's World Chess Championship Nalchik (Russia) (6.1), 14.09.2008 [Kosteniuk, Alexandra]

 The first game of any match is very important. If the match is short it's even more important since a good start means a lot. I was very happy to begin the match (for the first time in the championship) with the black pieces.


1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.a3


Position after 8.a3


An unexpected move. I was not ready for this variation. I thought she would opt for a different kind of Anti-Marshall starting with 8. a4. 8...d6 Since I didn't know much about this kind of variation, I tried to use my logic in order to solve the opening problems. Magnus Carlsen used this variation twice with White this year and had  pretty good results with it, although I doubt it was purely a question of the opening. Those two games went:



9.c3 Bg4 During the game I was interested in transposing to a Marshall by playing d5. Would the a3 move be helpful for White? Since I couldn't understand the difference between a normal Marshall and a Marshall with a3  I finally decided not to play d5. After the game I found a game between Suetin and Lilienthal where Andor played 9...d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxe5 Nxe5 12.Rxe5 c6 13.d4 Bd6 14.Re1 Qh4 15.g3 Qh3 16.Be3 Bg4 17.Qd3 Rae8 18.Nd2 Re6 and even though here Suetin played using the fact that the pawn is on a3, 19.c4 Black could have played (19.a4 would lead to a very well-known theoretical position of the main Marshall variation) 19...Bf4! (19...bxc4 20.Nxc4 Rb8 21.Bc2 Nxe3 22.Nxe3 Bf3 23.Qf5 Qxf5 24.Bxf5 Rf6 25.b4 Bf8 26.Bd3 Rd8 27.Nc2 Ra8 28.Re5 Bd5 29.Rae1 Rd6 30.Be4 Be6 31.Rd1 Be7 32.Rc5 1-0, Suetin Alexei S (RUS) 2327 - Lilienthal Andor (HUN) 2385, URS 1967) ] 10.d3 Na5 11.Bc2 I was a little bit surprised to see this move. I thought that the bishop would go to a2. 11...c5 12.h3 Bd7 13.d4 Qc7 14.d5 After this move we have a Classical Chigorin  with the strange move a3 and an extra tempo for Black. Since I play this kind of structure for White I knew the basic ideas and plans for both sides and that gave me a practical advantage. 14...c4 15.Nbd2 Nb7 16.Nf1 Nc5 17.g4?!


Position after 17.g4


A very risky move. Keres was the first to use this move in the position with the pawn on a2 and the knight on b7. I knew this idea since not so long ago, in a blitz-game I unsuccesfuly tried to use this plan for White. I would suggest a normal move such as Ng3 or N3h2 for White. 17...h5! Of course Black didn't want to allow White to put her knight on g3. 18.N3h2? Here White shouldn't allow Black to close the g-file. Hou should have played  18.gxh5 Bxh3 and only here 19.N3h2 hoping to use an open g-file for the attack.  18...hxg4 19.hxg4 Qc8 forcing White to weaken the black squares 20.f3 Nh7 21.Ng3 Bg5 22.Nf5!? An interesting idea, but only if Hou finds the most brave continuation. 22...Qd8 23.Kg2 g6 24.Ng3 After this move, Black's advantage is unquestionable. White should have tried to complicate the game with  24.Nxd6!? Bxc1 25.Qxc1 Qf6 26.Nf5 gxf5 27.gxf5 Qg5+ 28.Ng4 and despite the extra piece, Black has to be very careful. For example after 28...Qxc1 29.Raxc1 f6 30.Rh1 Kg7 31.Rcg1 White has  very strong compensation for the knight. 24...Kg7 25.Rh1 Rh8 26.Nhf1 Qf6 27.Be3 Bxe3 28.Nxe3 Ng5 29.Qe2 Rag8?! I didn't see how to continue and decided simply to wait. I think I should have played  29...Nd3!? 30.Bxd3 cxd3 31.Qf2 Qf4 32.Rad1 and it seems that the d3 pawn will be lost in a few more moves. But it's not that easy 32...a5 33.Rxd3 (33.Rxh8 Rxh8 34.Rxd3 (34.Nef1 Qf6! preparing the f4 square for the knight 35.Rxd3 Nh3 36.Qe3 Nf4+ 37.Kg1 Nxd3 38.Qxd3 Qf4 and Black should be winning soon) 34...Nxe4! 35.fxe4 Rh2+) 33...Rxh1 34.Nxh1 (34.Kxh1? Nh3!) 34...Nxe4 35.Qe2 Rh8 with attack] 30.Raf1 Qf4 31.Rxh8? Hou couldn't handle the pressure and decided to exchange the rooks forgetting about a very strong resource that Black will have after this exchange. She should have continued the game by playing  31.Qf2 and I'm not sure what I would have played. During the game I was thinking about playing on the queenside. Although Black's position is better, it is unclear how to get something concrete from this small advantage.  31...Rxh8 32.Rh1 Rxh1 33.Nxh1 Nd3!


Position after 33...Nd3


After this move the White's position collapses like a house of cards. 34.Bxd3  After 34.Ng3 Black would continue 34...Nxf3 35.Bxd3 Nh4+ 36.Kh3 cxd3 37.Qxd3 Nf3, dominating the game] 34...cxd3 35.Qf2 d2 36.Ng3 Nxf3!  Of course not 36...Qxe3 37.Qxe3 d1Q 38.Qxg5 giving White some initiative. 37.Qxf3 Bxg4! After this move the game is practically over and I was precise till the very end. 38.Qf2 d1Q 39.Nxd1 Bxd1 40.Qe1 Bf3+ 41.Kg1 f5 42.exf5 gxf5 43.Qf2 Kg6 44.b3 e4 45.c4 bxc4 46.bxc4 Qg5 47.c5 f4 48.cxd6


Position after 48.cxd6



The last precise moment. It was still possible to lose the game 48...Qxg3+?? 49.Qxg3+ fxg3 50.d7.  0-1