Khanty Mansiysk (Russia): Top-rated Grandmaster Koneru Humpy suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Natalia Zhukova of Ukraine in the first game of the second round of world women`s chess championship here on Wednesday.
It turned out to be a bad day in office for the highest rated girl in the fray as she could not find her rhythm and now finds herself in a must-win situation with black pieces in the return game to stay in the knockout championship.
While Humpy faces ouster threat, the other remaining Indian Grandmaster D Harika made early inroads to the pre-quarterfinals defeating Elina Danielian of Armenia in her first game of the second round.
At the top of the tables, defending champion Yifan Hou of China remained on course for third round appearance with an easy victory over experienced Monika Socko of Poland. The 18-year old Chinese was a picture of confidence as she thwarted the attempts for complications by Socko and recorded a smooth victory with black pieces.
Veteran Grandmaster Pia Cramling of Sweden also won her game at the expense of Irina Krush of United States and is now sitting pretty along with the other first game winners Zhao Xue of China and Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine.
Humpy faced the Tarrasch defense against Zhukova and it was not surprising as the Ukrainian`s husband is a renowned expert of the variation. Surprisingly enough, the players spent some time in the opening although much of the game was theoretical.
Humpy felt the heat on the 22nd move when a correct move would have held the position together and already it existed as a game had been played till that position. It was clear from here that the opening surprise by Zhukova had paid off well as the Indian continued to struggle even as there were mutual mistakes in the remainder of the game.
Humpy now has a daunting task on hand as she needs a victory with black pieces. Zhukova showed her depth in preparation in the first game and the Indian will have to somehow get a playable position in the return game and look for a fight till the end.
Harika played a highly inspirational game to get the better of Danielian. Side-stepping in the Benoni defense as white was a success for the Indian, Danielian fell in a prolonged tactical battle wherein pieces flew off the board almost in a frenzy. When the dust subsided, Harika had two extra pawns and it was over in just 33 moves.
Results round 2 game 1: Monika Socko (Pol) lost to Yifan Hou (Chn); Koneru Humpy (Ind) lost to Natalia Zhukova (Ukr); Anna Ushenina (Ukr) drew with Anna Muzychuk (Slo); Zhao Xue (Chn) beat Nino Khurtsidze, (Geo); Lela Javakhishvili (Geo) drew with Kateryna Lahno (Ukr); Nadezhda Kosintseva (Rus) drew with Lilit Mkrtchian (Arm); Huang, Qian (Chn) drew with Viktorija Cmilyte (Ltu); Marie Sebag (Fra) drew with Olga Girya (Rus); Alisa Galliamova (Rus) drew with Valentina Gunina (Rus); Pia Cramling (Swe) beat Irina Krush (Usa); Hoang Thanh Trang (Hun) drew with Tatiana Kosintseva ( Rus); D Harika (Ind) beat Elina Danielian (Arm); Mariya Muzychuk (Ukr) beat Maritza Arribas Robaina (Cub); Alexandra Kosteniuk (Rus) drew with Natalija Pogonina (Rus); Anna Zatonskih (Usa) drew with Ju Wenjun (Chn); Antoaneta Stefanova (Bul) drew with Zhu Chen (Qat).