In the first game of the second round Natalia Zhukova defeated the rating favorite Humpy Koneru.
– Natalia, congratulations with your victory! Please tell is about your thoughts during the game.
– Thank you. I just tried to equalize in this game, did not want to show any aggression. Up to some point Humpy played very consistently, and if she continued the same way, the game would probably end in a draw. When I decided to put my pawn on c2, I just thought it will be the safest option. My chess understanding suggests that Black cannot have any problems with the pawn on c2! Even if I lose some material, this pawn will be my insurance, so to speak.
Maybe this was the critical moment of the game. When she played 22.Qe2 instead of taking on c2, I responded with 22…Bf5 and was happy about my position. I did not worry about Humpy taking on d5, I just protected my pawn on c2 and created a number of threats. The position after capturing on c2 I considered equal, however, after the game I checked it on the computer, and it gave White advantage. But I don’t know why, maybe computers just overestimate queens!
Then Koneru got nervous and started to make mistakes. Her moves 25.е4 and 26.f4 are clearly inferior. She simply lost the thread. Her position was comfortable earlier, and she knew she could make a draw at will, but after 22…Bf5 there is no easy draw! The pawn on c2 is there, White cannot get rid of it, and she must calculate a lot on each move. After 25.е4 Bg6 I will take on а2, on b3… 26.f4 is simply a blunder, because after 26…Qxb3 I found the following trick: 27.f5 Qb6! with a highly dangerous pin. The bishop is immune due to 28…dxe4, and everything is pinned. If the king retreats to h1, then Black sacrifices a queen by 28…Qxd4 29.Qxd4 dxe4, and the c2-pawn decides. Something like this happened in the game – I happily gave up a queen.
– What happened in the end? We thought she could try to put up more resistance with the queen against two rooks…
– I considered the resulting position completely winning for me. There was a mating threat on the back rank, and the a-pawn remained alive. Humpy started to think and lost on time. However, I felt she was not going to make a move. White’s position was probably just hopeless, and Humpy realized it. In any case she didn’t see how she could create me technical problems and threaten the perpetual. I would have to play h5, then push the a-pawn and create mating threats. There were two or three moves to the control, and I planned to make them quickly and then think about my plan.
– What is you score against Humpy Koneru?

– We played eight games before. I have very good results with White – two wins and a draw, and with Black it is minus 1. So we usually play fighting games. I won a couple of very important games at the Olympiads.
– What is you score against Humpy Koneru?

– We played eight games before. I have very good results with White – two wins and a draw, and with Black it is minus 1. So we usually play fighting games. I won a couple of very important games at the Olympiads.
– The pairings were announced in advance, and one could guess that you will face Koneru in the second round. Did you prepare for her at home?

– You overestimating me! I did not prepare for Koneru. At the previous championships I was knocked out in the first round twice, losing to much weaker players. My main goal at this tournament was to break this streak and stop losing to underdogs. By the way, this time I faced a very decent opponent in the first round, so I just wanted to advance.
Also, proper preparation must not be opponent-based. You must prepare yourself. So I did, and I wasn’t worried about my opponents.
– Who supports you during the tournaments?

– I will not reveal that my supporters already called me, because cell phones are forbidden here! My main supporters are my family – my husband and our daughter. My husband is a strong grandmaster, so he helps me with chess issues, and my 5-year-old daughter also gives useful advice, because she already studies chess. My parents are also very keen supporters, but they don’t call me during tournaments, because they don’t want to distract me.
– Natalia, thank you and good luck!
– Thanks!

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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