Kosteniuk was impressive in her win over Zhu as she has now won four games in a row! Another Petroff defense took center stage and the Russian star showed her youthful energy by offering a weakened kingside for the two bishops. Her plan became apparent as her pieces swarmed the board and the Chinese GM could not contain the onslaught. Actually, it would be black's king that would be exposed and Kosteniuk exploited this tactically. Faced with a material deficit, an advanced enemy pawn, and an exposed king, Zhu resigned.
Score: Zhu 0--Kosteniuk 1
Kosteniuk had her four-game winning streak snapped when she was crushed by Zhu. In a wild opening, Kosteniuk wasted precious time with the queen and Zhu secured a positional advantage. After stifling black's queenside play, Zhu launched an attack starting with 24.g5!? fxg5 25.Qg2. The Russian tried to prevent white from opening up attacking routes, but her pieces became entangled. Using a series of pins, Zhu pounced on Kosteniuk and wrestled a piece away from her. This instantly dashed any chances of Kosteniuk's magical win streak, and with a piece deficit, she had to concede defeat.
Score: Zhu 1--Kosteniuk 1
The Kosteniuk-Zhu match was a total disaster for white as Zhu exploited the opening inaccuracies of Kosteniuk. The game bolted out of the gate with a Poisoned Pawn Sicilian, but Kosteniuk didn't appear in the mood for such a game and played 8.Nb3. It appeared that the Russian star attempted to steer into the path of game 1 (without a knight on d4), but black wrested the initiative after 16
d5! After the devastating 24
Qa5!, white was under heavy fire and had to find running room for her king. After the cursory checks ran out for Kosteniuk, Zhu was on her like a hungry predator. Zhu chased her king across the board to the kingside, and after Kosteniuk got tired of running, she gave up. After two crushing losses, this could demoralize the young Russian.
Score: Zhu 2--Kosteniuk 1
The Zhu-Kosteniuk showdown was highly anticipated as the hometown fans were rooting for a comeback by Kosteniuk after she was recuperating from two one-sided losses. Zhu, on the other hand, was trying to close out the match and open a new chapter in a Chinese chess dynasty. Kosteniuk employed the Dutch defense and Zhu got a comfortable position with a bulwark knight planted on e5. A "hide-and-seek" game with queens occurred as Zhu was trying to trade queens and Kosteniuk was trying to attack with her queen. Most of the ICC spectators, (including GM Dreev) felt white was slightly better after 37.Rec1 (although 37.fxg5 was discussed). The "hide-and-seek" game continued when Zhu played 40.Qc3? It was at this point that the young Russian reeled off 40
Nb3! Obviously startled, the Chinese GM lost the exchange after 41.Qxb3?? when the suggested 41.Qd3 may have given her a fighting chance. Remarked GM Dreev, "Zhu Chen did not find Qd3 though there could be not so lost position as now." Down the exchange and facing a central pawn avalanche, Zhu could've resigned, but played on a few more moves. The match will now be settled on tiebreaks. Stay tuned!
Score: Zhu 2--Kosteniuk 2