Reports | May 07, 2013 16:07

Women's Grand Prix under way in Geneva, Lagno in the lead

Kateryna Lagno

The first stage of the FIDE Women Grand Prix series 2013-2014 is currently under way in Geneva, Switzerland. Kateryna Lagno tops the standings after four rounds with two wins and two draws. In round 3 Hou Yifan surprisingly lost to WGM Batchimeg Tuvshintugs while World Champion Anna Ushenina failed to checkmate with bishop and knight in round 4.

Kateryna Lagno | Photos by Anastasiya Karlovich courtesy of FIDE

With its first tournament in Geneva, Switzerland the new Women Grand Prix series 2013-2014 has started. According to the regulations (in PDF here) it will be, like the men's GP, again a series of six tournaments held over two years (2013-14). There are 18 players and each player will participate in four of the six events. Each tournament has twelve players playing. The winner of the Grand Prix series at the end of 2014 will play the Women World Champion in the third quarter of 2015 in a ten game match for the Women’s World Championship title. Should the overall winner of the Grand Prix also be the World Champion at the end of the Grand Prix series in 2014, then the Challenger rights will go to the second placed overall in the Grand Prix.

The Geneva Grand Prix is sponsored by the Neva Foundation, a Swiss non-profit organization based in Geneva. The main objective of the foundation is to promote cultural and scientific exchanges between Russia and Switzerland. It was established in 2008 by Elena Timchenko and her husband, Gennady, who was also co-sponsor of the Anand-Gelfand match and the recently finished Alekhine Memorial.

Unlike in the men's Grand Prix, most of the top women players are participating. The lineup includes current Women World Champion Anna Ushenina from Ukraine and former World Champions Hou Yifan (China), Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria) and Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia). Other top players include Humpy Koneru (India), Anna Muzychuk (Solvenia), Nana Dzagnidze (Georgia) and Kateryna Lagno (Ukraine). 

The first tournament, which is currently under way and finishes May15th, has the following participants:

Name Title Country Rating
Hou, Yifan gm CHN 2617
Muzychuk, Anna gm SLO 2585
Lagno, Kateryna gm UKR 2548
Dzagnidze, Nana gm GEO 2545
Ju, Wenjun wgm CHN 2544
Cmilyte, Viktorija gm LTU 2522
Kosintseva, Tatiana gm RUS 2517
Khotenashvili, Bela im GEO 2505
Kosteniuk, Alexandra gm RUS 2491
Ushenina, Anna gm UKR 2491
Girya, Olga wgm RUS 2463
Batchimeg Tuvshintugs wgm MGL 2298

At the opening ceremony, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov said that the next two Women Grand Prix events will be held in Dilijan, Armenia and Tashkent, Uzbekistan. He also revealed the venue for the next men's Grand Prix: instead of Madrid, it will be Thessaloniki, Greece.

Today, I can officially confirm that the next Grand Prix will be held in Thessaloniki, Greece between the 21st of May and 4th of June 2013. The location will be the luxurious 5 star Makedonia Palace Hotel in downtown Salonika. This could happen thanks to the active support of the well known philanthropist Ivan Savvidi. According to the wish of Mr Savvidi, an elite chess event is coming to Greece.

Back to the women! The first round in Geneva was played last Friday and in this round Bela Khotenashvili and Anna Muzychuk started with victories. Here's Khotenashvili's win against one of the two Chinese participants.

PGN string

In round two Hou Yifan took revenge for Ju Wenjun's loss.

PGN string

Hou Yifan was on 1.5 points (she drew with Tatiana Kosintseva in the first round) but in the next round she suffered a surprising loss against outsider WGM Batchimeg Tuvshintugs of Mongolia.

PGN string

WGM Batchimeg Tuvshintugs (2298) of Mongolia

Also in the fourth round Hou Yifan's position looked very dangerous, but Viktorija Cmilyte couldn't find the best way to continue her attack.

PGN string

After four rounds Kateryna Lagno is in the lead with an undefeated 3/4 score. On Monday she beat Alexandra Kosteniuk with Black in a Classical and hyper-sharp Scheveningen:

PGN string

Kateryna Lagno leads after four rounds

A remarkable finish saw the game in the fourth round Anna Ushinea vs Olga Girya. This was most probably the first time that a reigning World Champion failed to checkmate with bishop and knight. There was no real excuse because the time control in Geneva is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move from move one.

PGN string

Update: here's a video which was mentioned in the comments:

Anna Ushenina (Ukraine)

Women GP Geneva 2013 | Round 4 standings



Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Anonymous's picture

Someone actually posted a video of Anna trying to mate on the forums, it is heart breaking

Peter Doggers's picture

Thanks, I embedded the video.

Xenyatta's picture

It's amazing that it takes an "incident" like this epic fail in the endgame, to even get folks motivated to comment on the Women's Grand Prix.

Kirsan can console Ushenina by saying that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Anonymous's picture

I think most of us relate to this because we pose ourselves the question whether we should learn this technique. From the comment of Pogonina I gather that Ushenina's team even joked about it at one time, but that they all knew it - except that Ushenina was not present at that time, missing a chance to fill in this gap.

S3's picture

What I dont get is that a GM with plenty of time cant find out the mechanism him/herself.

Anonymous's picture

Neither can Houdini without tablebases...

Anonymous's picture

You are underestimating what it takes to invent a systematic method to solve this. I'm sure the people who came up with such methods spent more than an hour on it and moved the pieces around...

Mike's picture

They didn't shake hands, unfair behaviour.

Anonymous's picture

I noticed that as well. But I probably wouldn't have shaken hands either. It's kind of a respect thing in a way when it comes to won endgames, most of the time players resign but Olga didn't and it came back to bite Anna.

Anonymous's picture

why should she resign? if you can't win that you don't deserve to be world champion

Xenyatta's picture

There is no harm (or disrespect) in playing on a few moves, to see if your opponent can demonstrate the technique, especially when the clock is ticking, and the pressure is on.

I believe that Topalov failed to win the (admittedly more difficult) K+N+N vs. K+P ending, although I'd expect most of the 2700+ players to be able to win K+B+N vs. K *Blindfolded*!

If Ushenina demonstrated the "W" maneuver, it would be time for Girya to resign.

it would take an uncommon act of sportspersonship to shake hands in such a circumstance. Maybe somebody like Sir George Thomas, Baronet....(renowned for being a gracious loser)

Aditya's picture

If you are talking about Topalov-Karpov 2000, Topalov actually won a drawn endgame. But as you mentioned, the Troitsky line technique is harder to play from both sides. Anand could not win against Wang Yue, but this was a blindfold game. Also KNN vs KP can theoretically exceed 50 moves, so very often, there is no practical win.

Jan's picture

I always thought it was Lahno, with an H (actually, I'm quite sure, I met her during a tournament in Antwerp and there it was certainly written with an H). Is this changed recently?

Anonymous's picture

It is Катерина Лагно

Xenyatta's picture

Yes, it has changed, from Lahno to Lagno.

The names above are transliterations from the Cyrillic alphabet. The Cyrillic rendering of her name has not changed.

There is no single correct way to determine transliterations from Cyrillic to the Latin alphabets; in large part, it is a matter of taste.

The name all of a sudden sounds more Italian, doesn't it?

Jan's picture

(But on the Fide Rating list it indeed is written Lagno)

Jan's picture

(But on the Fide Rating list it indeed is written Lagno)

SierraSunset's picture

Looks like Anna needs to read Silman's "Complete Endgame Course".

Remco Gerlich's picture

It would be better to read any other book -- didn't Silman skip the BN mate because it would never show up?

Anonymous's picture

After watching that video, I felt I had no choice but to learn the BN endgame. :)

victor's picture

I just play blitz, but "Fundamental Chess Endings" there I go... it reminds me that I saw in Youtube another endgame Rook + pawn vs bishop I didn't know. Blitz game endings are too quick for this kind of precise movements.

Anonymous's picture

I'm quite sure that this will not happen to her a second time.

Natalia Pogonina had this comment on the game at "This is ridiculous. We actually had a friendly conversation with our team (Ugra) during the last Rus. Ch. Someone joked that we should recall how to convert B+K. Obviously, we didn't do it and reviewed some rook endgames instead. Unfortunately, Anna (my teammate) wasn't present. I guess she would have taken a look had she been there..."

Xenyatta's picture

The chances of even playing a game that features K+B+N vs K is perhaps 3-4,000 to 1. So, it would be quite a coincidence if Ushenina were to have another chance to WIN with the K+B+N

Of course, if one has not studied the ending, it is quite a difficult mate to "solve" over the board, through sheer calculation. Most Masters (who have not made a point of studying K+B+N before) fail to win the ending, when faced with it over the board. Of course, it is simpler task once a player can recognized the patterns, and remember the techniques and somewhat counter-intuitive maneuvers.

But Ushenina is almost rated 2500 ELO, and she has the GM title. It's an embarrassment for a GM to fail to win this, irrespective of the circumstances.

Thomas Oliver's picture

I don't know how many games I played in my "chess career" (including blitz games) ... I had this ending twice: Once in a youth competition (it's been a while) I managed to mate - to everyone's surprise, I was also surprised :) - when the game was over people assumed that it was drawn. Once in a blitz game I also had an advantage on the clock and could just flag the opponent.

How does K+B+N compare to queen against rook? If I remember correctly, at one occasion Svidler couldn't win that endgame.

Anonymous's picture

I had this endgame 4 times in some 30 years and I would estimate I only played a couple of thousand games. I use the W method which I first learned from Tarrasch book The Game of Chess. In spite of many years since I learned the technique, the conversion was easy.
I saw it this year in the club, a player had KBN and pawn versus K and pawn. The pawns were both h-file pawns which were locked. The stronger side did not bother to go after the pawn, he played the mate out a blitz speed (in a slow game). He also used the W method. And that was a B-class player! There were many kibitzers who were impressed by the speed of execution and he gave a lecture about the method the next week. It is certainly much easier than Q versus R.

Thomas Oliver's picture

As you say, it's a matter of a) studying this ending and b) remembering the technique when you need it, which might be decades later. For Ushenina, it also may have played a role that she got nervous because "the chess world is watching". If a male player with Elo around 2500 cannot win this endgame it will hardly be noticed? Random name: Fridman (IM Rafael, not GM Daniel).
Queen versus rook may be more difficult but should be more common - notably, it's the standard outcome of some theoretical rook and pawn vs. rook positions.

Anonymous's picture

According to Mueller and Lamprecht (Fundamental Chess Endings, 2001) queen versus rook occurs in 0.4% of all games. That is 20 times more frequent than KBN vs K.
But this seems very high, they probably mean cases where one or both sides also have pawns. (I do not have the book at hand to verify, noticed the table in the wikipedia article on endgames).

jmason's picture

i'm not sure she will have the second opportunity :)

Isaac Hunt's picture

There's a geometric way to mate that is quite easy to play fast, as it practically does not require any calculation:

Anonymous's picture

I've always done the W maneuver, but this Deletang method seems interesting

Aditya's picture

Girya is trying to suppress a smile in that video and in the end she gives away her look of bemusement anyway. There is a special section on the wiki page about Grandmaster Epishin failing to deliver this mate. That wiki page will soon be added to. The crown bears heavier than usual.

Lee's picture

Epishin was top 20 in the world at his peak, so I'm a bit surprised he couldn't finish it off. While his inability to do so doesn't excuse Ushenina's similar inability to pull it off, I'm not sure this is that big a deal.

I would be dollars for donuts that she's studied it, but for whatever reason just couldn't pull it off at the board.

S3's picture

All the more credits for her becoming world champion without theoretical knowledge. Just imagine how strong she can be if she starts to study!

Anonymous's picture

The first very first comment from S3 that make sense! But unfortunately its probably the last

brabo's picture

More credits if you study less? I wished this also was applicable for school.

Anonymous's picture

Apparently, there is no other record of a Grandmaster failing to deliver this in a classical game. Until Anna's game. First for a world champion.
I think if a grandmaster studies this once, they can do it on the board. The W maneuver is the only counterintuitive part but once you play it the reasoning becomes apparent.

Anonymous's picture

Well yes, there is actually: GM Epishin failed in Robert Kempinski - Vladimir Epishin, Bundesliga 2001.

Anonymous's picture

I too think she studied it at one time. She cetainly started with the W method, but somehow could not remember what to do when the king seems to escape: 82 Ne2 Kf3 83 Be6 and the net stays closed...

AAR's picture

Kateryna Lagno - thats one hottie.

Anonymous's picture

Surely nice pictures of her in this article!

popper's picture

Women's World Champion can't make with B+N. Speaks volumes...

vlad's picture


Raspje's picture

Peter, in the game Hou Yifan - Bela Khotenashvili 4...Bh5 is perfectly playable as far as I know . After 8.Ne5 black can simply play 8...Rc8 (tested by some famous grandmasters againt Smyslov).

NN's picture

Disgrace! I am sure she will study this endgame now. Better late than never.

Anonymous's picture

And Fischer was paranoid and sexist when he commented on women and chess, right?

Anonymous's picture

Judit Polgar did a pretty good job against Ljubojevic. She needed only 24 moves and she did it blindfolded!

Anonymous's picture

That was in the Amber blindfold, Monaco 1994.
Chessgames has the game.

Bartleby's picture

If she used the time she did not study K+B to study rook endgames, the half point she paid today has been a good investment.

Anonymous's picture

She probably wishes she spent the hour or so it takes to learn this. It must have been very unpleasant for a world champion to be filmed in this situation.

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