IM Irina Berezina has qualified for the next Womens Worlds Championship KO, with a 2.5-0.5 win over WIM Emma Guo in the 2011 Oceania Women's Zonal playoff. The playoff, which was held today at the Parramatta RSL Club in Sydney, was required after the 2 players tied for first place in the 2011 Women's Zonal earlier this year.
The playoff was over 4 games, played with a time limit of 25m+10s per move, but only three games were required. The crucial game in the playoff turned out to be the first one. After gaining space in the centre out of the opening, Guo chose the very committal 13.e6 which indicated an 'all or nothing' strategy. The next few moves were pretty obvious, but on move 16 Berezina found Ne4, which caused Guo to have a long think. She captured twice on e4. but after 18. ... f5 was faced with the choice of grabbing the c6 pawn or retreating the queen. She chose the latter, but the initiative had now passed to Berzina. Guo castled queenside but her position quickly fell apart.
Game 2 was more one sided with Guo trying a symmetrical opening, but Berezina was able to break the symmetry with a clear advantage. Once Berezina got he rook into play the game was essentially over, and Guo resigned on move 20. The third and final game was the longest of the three, but Berezina was happy to repeat the position, despite being a pawn up in the final position.
Guo, Emma v Berezina, Irina
2011 Oceania Women's Zonal Playoff