Grandmaster Dronavalli Harika kept herself in contention by winning against Sopiko Guramishvili of Georgia in the first round’s first tie-break but Padmini Rout’s campaign ended after a loss in the Women’s World Chess Championship on Monday.
Harika won 2.5-1.5 and Rout went down to Zhansaya Abdumalik of Kazakhastan by a similar margin.
With Koneru Humpy already in the second round of the 64-player knockout event, all eyes were on Harika and she did not disappoint despite being held to a draw in the first round of the rapid tie-breaker.
Viswanathan Anand once famously said that “it’s easier to draw with white when you don’t want to”. The golden words struck chord once more as Khukashvili paid the prize of playing for a level position with the slightly favourable colour.
It was a Petroff defense by Harika in which the queens got traded very early in the opening and in her bid to exchange everything, Khukashvili surrendered the Bishop pair in the ensuing endgame.
This was not a decisive mistake, but as the game progressed Harika just hung in there by making adequate moves till the position opened up.
Once her Bishops came in game, Harika was on a mission, and her precise calculation coupled with fine technique helped her win the long grind after 72 moves.
In the first game, Harika could not make use of her white as Khukashvili equalised in the middle game and the resulting rook and knights endgame turned out to be just equal.
Rout also lost the second game after drawing the first with black against Zhansaya. Going for an English opening as white, the Indian national champion was outplayed even though she got a slight advantage out of the opening.
Zhansaya got her chances after forcing some exchanges of heavy pieces and she obtained crucial control in the queen and minor piece endgame.
In her bid to generate counter play, Rout sacrificed a pawn but could not regain the control over the position. The game lasted 60 moves.
Humpy and Harika were the two remaining Indians in the last 32 as Bhakti Kulkarni also bowed out after losing to Natalija Pogonina of Russia under normal games.
Humpy will meet Jolanta Zawadzka of Poland while Harika takes on another Georgian — Bela Khotenashvili - in the second round of the USD 450000 Championship that has USD 60000 reserved for the winner.
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