Hatay (Turkey): Grandmaster norm holder D
Harika showed steely nerves to beat Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine
and storm into the quarterfinals of the World Women`s Chess
Apart from Harika, Koneru Humpy is already in the
quarterfinals after defeating Anna Zatonskih of United States
in classical games.
Harika was stretched in to the tiebreaker and it was a
hard day`s effort -- and aided by lady luck -- that saw her
through with fortunes fluctuating a lot.
The biggest upset of the Championship was caused by Ruan
Lufei of China who knocked out defending champion Alexandra
Kosteniuk in a tiebreaker. Ruan was in top form in the first
rapid game that she won with black and in the return game the
Chinese drew to show Alexandra the exit door.
Another Chinese super talent Yifan Hao cruised to the
next stage defeating former Chinese, Zhu Chen of Qatar in the
rapid games. Yifan drew the first game as black and romped
home with some original play in the second.
Harika`s match against Mariya was by far the most
interesting and keenly contested in the pre-quarterfinals. The
Indian had drawn both Classical games to set up the tiebreaker
and it was a cliffhanger on all counts.
The Indian started with a victory in the first rapid game
that saw her in top form against the Czech Benoni with white
pieces. Using her Bishop to desired effect, Harika wove a fine
checkmate web to crush Mariya.
It was in the second rapid game that Mariya struck back.
Playing white, the Ukrainian won a pawn and displayed her
technical acumen to register the much needed victory in 56
The stage was thus set for the blitz games in which
Mariya won the first game with black and it seemed she was
home already. However, Harika proved her true mettle winning
the return game with black pieces to let the match go in to
the final Armageddon game in which white got five minutes to
black`s four but in the event of a draw black will qualify.
Harika got black pieces and needed a draw but Mariya was
on a mission and she put pressure with her Italian opening. In
the endgame that arose, Harika was almost out of hope as
Mariya won a pawn to get a complete winning position.
Forcing the trade of queens Mariya almost ensured the
qualification but for the clock that was ticking away through
out the game.
Although starting a minute less, Harika had shown perfect
pace and Mariya, in the final stages of the game with a
winning position on board, lost on time. The lady luck had
favoured the Indian.
In the other tiebreaker, Almira Skripchenko of France
defeated Viktorija Cmilyte of Lithuania after the match was
prolonged till the blitz game. Almira, a renowned expert in
blitz format, had little difficulty in tackling Viktorija.