Women Chess C'ship: Harika misses out, Padmini survives

Playing black, fourth seeded Harika pulled all the right strings for a long time against Guramishvili but failed to find a way to force a victory. Whereas, Padmini showed some fine preparation and excellent attacking acumen as white. And return game gives her all the hopes for an encore.

Padmini (in pic) hung in there just long enough for Zhongyi to make a mistake and once black won the pawn back, it was already a forced draw.   -  PTI

Grandmaster D. Harika missed out on some chances to settle for a draw with Georgia’s Sopiko Guramishvili, while Padmini Rout survived a scare before enforcing a draw with China’s Tan Zhongyi in the first game of the third round of World Women’s Chess Championship here.

Playing black, fourth seeded Harika pulled all the right strings for a long time against Guramishvili but failed to find a way to force a victory. However, the Indian will have white pieces in the return game, an opportunity for her to score her first victory in the Classical format here.

All Harika’s wins in first two rounds came only in rapid tiebreak games. Facing her third higher ranked opponent in a row, Padmini yet again managed to salvage a difficult position against Zhongyi.

Padmini showed some fine preparation and excellent attacking acumen as white. And return game gives her all the hopes for an encore.

The world championship this year is being held under knock-out rules. The USD 450000 event started with 64 players and is now down to 16 with three more rounds to go after this.

Till the finalists have been identified, there are two games under Classical time control and if the scores are tied, games of shorter duration are played to determine the winner.

Harika faced the in-vogue London system against Guramishvili and equalised comfortably out of the opening by opting for a solid system.

As the game progressed, the pieces changed hands at regular intervals and Harika was able to secure a tangible advantage in the ensuing queen and minor piece endgame.

It was on the 33rd move that Harika missed a chance to win a pawn and once she decided against it, Guramishvili came up with some sterling defense to hold her position. The game lasted 49 moves.

Padmini went for a surprising opening choice in Semi-Tarrasch and felt the heat as white went for some known plans to take command of important central squares.

Padmini lost a pawn and the endgame looked completely worse at some point. However, the Indian hung in there just long enough for Zhongyi to make a mistake and once black won the pawn back, it was already a forced draw. The peace was signed after 60 moves.

There were three decisive games in all in the first game of pre-quarterfinal. Second seed Anna Muzychuk outclassed Pham Le Thao Nguyen of Vietnam, Nana Dzagnidze of Gerogia defeated Shen Yang of China while former champion Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria almost put an end to the aspirations of Georgian Nino Khurtsidze.

The other three games were drawn. Top seed Ju Wenjun of China could not force matters against Olgay Girya of Russia, while another former champion Alexandra Kosteniuk of Russia also could not break the ice against veteran Pia Cramling of Sweden.

The other draw also involved a Russian — Natalija Pogonina was held by Ni Shiqun of China.

Results round 3: Ju Wenjun (Chn) drew with Olga Girya (Rus); Pham, Le Thao Nguyen (Vie) lost to Anna Muzychuk (Ukr); Alexandra Kosteniuk (Rus) drew with Pia Cramling (Swe); Sopiko Guramishvili (Geo) drew with D Harika (Ind); Nana Dzagnidze (Geo) beat Shen Yang (Chn); Natalija Pogonina (Rus) drew with Ni Shiqun (Chn); Antoaneta Stefanova (Bul) beat Nino Khurtsidze (Geo); Tan Zhongyi (Chn) drew with Padmini Rout (Ind).