Lagno wins the Astana FIDE Women’s Grand Prix

Thanks to a solid finish, scoring five points in her last six matches, GM Kateryna Lagno of Russia won the first round of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix in Astana, Kazakhstan. She finished half a point ahead of fellow GM Aleksandra Goryachkina of Russia while WGM Zhu Jiner of China finished third.

How to watch? Astana Women’s Grand Prix games can be found here.

As of our last tournament report, six rounds had been played and Goryachkina and Zhu were tied for first place. Lagno had beaten GM Tan Zhongyi in that sixth round, and she went on with three more victories against the two German WGM participants Dinara Wagner and IM Elisabeth Paehtz, then also Zhu.

Lagno’s last two games were somewhat disappointing as they quickly ended in draws, in both cases with a well-known theoretical variation that leads to repeated moves from the first opening.

Because Goryachkina was held to a draw in the final round, Lagno finished in first place alone (earning €15,000), four weeks after winning the Chess.com Women’s Speed ​​Chess Championship. She went undefeated in a tournament where she scored plus five.

Two of his wins were quite interesting and had in common that Lagno didn’t castle. Against Tan, she seemed to start playing kingside but then reacted strongly to her opponent’s premature pawn break on the other side of the board, eventually trapping the queen:

Lagno Tan Astana 2022
Lagno against Tan. Photo: Anna Shtourman/FIDE.

After the rest day, Wagner provoked Lagno to start pushing her pawns on the kingside and this time it was indeed the start of a strong attack against the opposing king. In this case, it was theory for a long time:

Wagner (née Dordzhieva) is a Kalmyk-born player who moved to Germany in 2021 and married German GM Dennis Wagner. Shortly after the start of the war in Ukraine, she changed her federation from Russian to Germany.

Her final-round victory over GM Polina Shuvalova set Wagner at 5/11, good enough for her first IM standard. It might prove useful for her to have that 11-round standard, as her next tournament is the European Club Cup next week, where a seven-round standard would take her to 18 games. Then a standard on nine additional games would be sufficient (apart from breaking 2400).

Dinara Wagner IM Astana GP standard
Wagner showing his IM standard diploma. Photo: Anna Shtourman/FIDE.

Goryachkina fell behind Lagno in the final round after a draw with IM Vaishali R. GM’s older sister Praggnananadhaa R. received an invitation (after GM Humpy Koneru had to withdraw for medical reasons) and also scored 5/ 11.

In fact, Vaishali was dominating this last game and missed out on a victory in the tower final:

Despite this slight disappointment at the end, Vaishali was in good spirits: “It was just an amazing experience to play against all the strong players. This is my first Grand Prix. I hope to work harder, get stronger and win the Grand Prix cycling next year!”

FIDE Women’s GP Astana 2022 | Final ranking

2022 Astana Women's Grand Prix final standings

All games from rounds 7 to 11

The first leg of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix (of four) took place from September 18 to 29, 2022 in Astana, Kazakhstan. The format was a round robin with 12 players. The time control was 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game, plus a 30 second increment from the first move. The price was 80,000 euros.

Three other stages of this Women’s Grand Prix will follow: one in Munich, Germany (from February 1 to 14, 2023), one in India in March 2023 and one in Bydgoscz, Poland, in May 2023. The first two in the general classification of the GP will qualify for the Women’s Candidates Tournament.


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