Koneru beats Dzagnidze: “Everything worked in Bullet Games”
GM Humpy Koneru edged out GM Nana Dzagnidze in their Round of 16 match of the 2022 FIDE Chess.com Women’s Speed Chess Championship on Wednesday. The match was so close that the score was still tied with just five minutes on the clock. In the end, Koneru’s superior focus and speed in the ball segment won the match with a three-point lead.
The next round of 16, GM Harika Dronavalli vs. WGM Deysi Cori, begins on Thursday, July 7, at 6:30 a.m. Pacific / 3:30 p.m. Central Europe.
Dzagnidze secured the first victory with an offensive victory, using Koneru’s weak kingside dark squares.
In game four, Koneru fought back, neatly converting an extra rally into a victory thanks to tactical awareness in the race against time.
Segment 5 | 1 was hotly contested with the score hovering at a tie point throughout. Koneru tied the score again in game six with a strong positional play on the queenside.
In the next game, Dzagnidze reclaimed the lead with his powerful knight on d6 leading his other pieces into Koneru’s position.
Koneru responded by winning the very next game with superior coin activity, once again tying the score leading into segment 3 | 1.
Dzagnidze reclaimed the lead with a win in game one, nurturing a slight midgame advantage in a winning finale.
Dzagnidze took the game’s first two-point lead in the following game when Koneru lost in time with a slightly better final. In this time control, time management has become a real struggle for Koneru. As GM commentator Irina Krush said:
“Nana is just a little more practical. That’s the problem. When you get to that one-second increment, that’s it. It’s very likely that you’re going to waste time.”
It turned into a three-game winning streak for Dzagnidze. In game four, Koneru responded with a victory against time, playing a shocking final move as Dzagnidze’s clock approached zero.
Koneru brought the score to within a point with a win in game seven, using creative rook lift to take over on the queen side.
Dzagnidze kicked off the ball game with a win, smartly winning a pawn and quickly promoting from an even queen and minor piece end.
In game three, in mutual difficulty in an even end of round, Koneru shocked the win and managed to signal Dzagnidze. This tied the score for the first time since the 5|1 segment!
After another Koneru victory, it was Dzagnidze’s turn to level the score with a powerful active full board play to sneak in a checkmate attack.
The game was so close that it was still tied with just five minutes left on the clock. As the match clock ticked down to four minutes, Koneru performed a series of shrewd maneuvers to rack up a large amount of coin activity and sink into Dzagnidze’s position. Koneru then shared his thoughts on this game: “I was just playing what was natural for me. I didn’t care about the hardware.”
In the next game, Koneru sealed the match win with a shrewd tactical combination in the penultimate game.
It was an incredibly close match with many lead changes and the tie hovering most of the time. What won the match for Koneru was his ability to hold his own with precise play and excellent time management in the ball segment.
Koneru won $2,020 in prize money for his victory while Dzagnidze took home $605 for his efforts.
In his interview, Koneru shared his thoughts on the match: “It was a neck and neck match. Most of the time, Nana won a point… But when the 3|1 segment started, I had lost three points, so the return was very important and crucial for me. Everything worked in the ball games.
Everything worked in the ball games.
All matches – Round of 16
Women’s Speed Chess Championship
The FIDE Chess.com 2022 Women’s Speed Chess Championship is an online event where titled players will play a series of blitz and bullet matches for a share of the $70,000 prize. Qualifying for the event took place from May 24-27, with the main event starting on June 13 and ending on July 21.