World Chess C'ship: Harika eases into quarterfinal; Padmini bows out

D. Harika cruised past Georgia’s Sopiko Guramishvili 3.5-2.5 after four tie-break games for a place in the quarterfinal of the Women World chess championship in Tehran on Sunday.

Harika was expected to strike with white but had to settle for another draw in 51 moves.   -  S. R. Raghunathan

D. Harika kept her nerves when it mattered and cruised past Georgia’s Sopiko Guramishvili 3.5-2.5 after four tie-break games for a place in the quarterfinal of the Women World chess championship in Tehran on Sunday.

After drawing the first 25-minute rapid game with black pieces in 53 moves, Harika was expected to strike with white but had to settle for another draw in 51 moves. In the two 10-minute rapid games that followed, Harika won the first in 46 moves and then gained a comfortable position with black pieces after claiming a rook for a knight on the 23rd turn.

Sopiko, sensing that she could not attain a much-needed victory, drew the game following repetition of moves. Harika did not mind the deadlock in 35 moves since it paved the way for a quarterfinal clash with another Georgian Nana Dzagnidze.

However, Padmini Rout’s gallant campaign came to an end. Facing a much higher-rated Chinese Tan Zhongyi, Padmini won the first of the 25-minute rapid game with white pieces in 90 moves. She now needed a draw with black but Zhongyi bounced back to level the match after a 39-move victory.

In the first of the two 10-minute rapid games, Zhongyi again won with white pieces in 50 moves to take the lead. Padmini, playing white and facing a must-win situation, could only manage a draw after only the kings were left following a 57-move battle.

The results:

Pre-quarterfinal: Ju Wenjun (Chn) bt Olga Girya (Rus) 3.5-2.5; Tan Zhongyi (Chn) bt Padmini Rout 3.5-2.5; D. Harika bt Sopiko Guramishvili (Geo) 3.5-2.5; Nana Dzagnidze (Geo) bt Shen Yang (Chn) 1.5-0.5; Anna Muzychuk (Ukr) bt Pham Le Thao Nguyen (Vie) 2-0; Antoaneta Stefanova (Bul) bt Nino Khurtsidze (Geo) 1.5-0,5; Alexandra Kosteniuk (Rus) bt Pia Cramling (Swe) 4-2; Ni Shiqun (Chn) bt Natalia Pogonina (Rus) 1.5-0.5.

Quarterfinal line-up: Wenjun-Zhongyi; Harika-Dzagnidze; Muzychuk-Stefanova; Kosteniuk-Shiqun.