World Women`s chess: Anna Ushenina draws first blood

Khanty Mansiysk (Russia): Ukrainian Anna Ushenina stands on the threshold of creating history following an upset victory over Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria in the third game of the World Women`s chess championship final here.

After draws in first two games Ushenina drew the first blood in the four-game match leaving Stefanova in a must win situation in the fourth and last game of the finals of the knockout championship that started with 64 players.

While the first two games did not give much indication about the outcome of the match, Ushenina, who has not been a favourite, yet again proved that determination and perseverance rules in a gruelling schedule like this.

No one had given Ushenina any hopes of winning the title at the start of the event but after the third game of the match she has certainly emerged as the favourite for the crown in this USD 450000 prize money championship.

It remains to be seen if Stefanova, the world champion in 2004 in a similar format, will have the energy and the acumen to stage a fight-back in the last game under normal time control. If the Bulgarian is able to pull one back, this will be one of the most remarkable comebacks in recent history and then games of shorter duration will be played to determine the next world champion.

It may be recalled here that the World championship earlier this year between Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand of Israel had also been decided under the rapid tiebreaker when both players had arrived at a 6-6 deadlock after 12 games under normal time control.

The Indian interest in this championship had ended after the semifinal when D Harika crashed after putting up a brave front right through.

Harika lost to Stefanova 0.5-1.5 under normal games after proving that she belongs to the elite club of women players.

Ushenina embarked on the Queen pawn opening and faced Chelyabinsk Slav that has given Stefanova many great results.

However, the Ukrainian appeared well-armed in the opening for once and caught Stefanova off-guard with a less-played system that gave white a slight advantage out of the opening.

Stefanova, however, was in a relentless mood as she tried to find some flaws with white`s formation of pieces and launched an offense through the center that boomeranged in almost no-time.

As it happened, Ushenina crashed through the queen side after getting a rook for two minor pieces and her position was completely in control after the 24th move.

Stefanova`s attempt at counter-play did not materialise thereafter as Ushenina pounced on her chances and gave no space. The game lasted 37 moves.

The championship might get over in the next game or might be settled in the tiebreaker, but the chess world for now has found a new face in Anna Ushenina.