The seventh round started with a photo session, but this only spurred the women on to produce many exciting games. With 5,5 out of 7 Marsel is now a point clear of Josefine.
The game between Machteld and Alicja ended in a ‘short draw’ by repetition, although timewise – at move 22 – the Dutch player only had 4 minutes left on her clock. Machteld realized that she had missed some good chances before she started to repeat, although in fact 19.b3 would still have given her a substantial positional plus. Earlier 13…Qd7?! and 14…Ne8? (which leaves her majesty unprotected) almost brought disaster to Alicja’s solid Four Knight’s Opening. On move 16 Machteld missed her best chance with 16.Qg4! Bxf5 17.Nxf5 (threatening a discovered check) 17…Kh7 18.c3 when the bishop is untouchable (18…hxg5? 19.Qh3+ wins the queen).
In the old days the London was played to avoid theoretical discussions. Laura and Josefine quickly found themselves in a hugely complex tactical slugfest that had in fact been played in several games already. With the players testing each other’s memory, only 22.Rad4 was the first new move. In a very sharp ending they continued to played with great accuracy and eventually all material was hoovered clean off the board.
Trisha met Robin’s Nimzo-Indian with 4.Qc2 and here too a sharp fight ensued. It must be said that Robin played a very strong game. 14…c5! and 15…c4! set Trisha on the backfoot. Only with 28.e5! Nf4 29.exf6 could she have stayed in the game. After the entirely plausible 28.exd5 Nf4 her game was lost. Be sure to play through the entire game, though, Robin’s finish – including a rook sacrifice to promote a pawn – was very neat.
Another extremely complex game was Marsel against Petra. The leader avoided all theoretical discussions in a sideline of the Ruy Lopez with 5.Nc3. Petra made a mistake with 15…Qf6? (15…b5 and pushing the queenside would have been strong), when 16.Nh5, 17.Nd2 and 18.f4 was a strong sequence gaining White a serious advantage. In time trouble the game was extremely double-edged. After for example 33…dxc4 or 38…Bd4 all results are possible. After the time control the positional was a total mess. Petra was perhaps unlucky that only 41…Rd8 would have retained a decent game, while 41…Ba5 lost due to 43.Re7! forcing the trade of queens when two passed pawns on the seventh rank gave Marsel another win.
Marta gained a pleasant edge in a French Advance Variation against Anastasia. Optically White’s position looked very pleasant all along, although there were a few moments where Anastasia could have improved. On move 32 the extremely hard to find 32…Ra3+ 33.Bb3 Rc4 would have even promised Black an edge. After the more natural 32…Rac4 33.Bb3! Marta could prove that her bishop pair and favourable pawn structure gave her a serious edge. She did not let go and demonstrated good technique.