Humpy, Harika in pre-quarters of World Championship

Hatay: Top rated Grandmaster Koneru Humpy and D Harika moved into the pre-quarterfinals of the World Women’s chess championship after eliminating Jovanka Houska of England and Titiana Shardina of Russia respectively in the second round here.

Having lost the first game of the second round at the hands of Humpy from a promising position, the onus was on Jovanka to pull one back and force the match into a tiebreaker but an alert Humpy thwarted all such attempts with her fine manoeuvres and forced the game to end in a draw, thereby winning the two-games mini-match by a 1.5-0.5 margin.

Harika did better than Humpy in this round when she scored her second victory in as many days against Titiana. It was an excellent performance by the former world junior girls’ champion and this time she seems determined to put up her best.

The second turned out to be a forgettable one for the Russian eves as 5 out of 6 participants left were eliminated and only defending champion Aleksandra Kosteniuk remained in the fray.

Kosteniuk drew her second game with Sopiko Khukhashvili of Georgia and will now have to battle it out in the tie-break games of the second round.

Apart from Humpy and Harika, Chinese trio of Yifan Hao, Zhao Xue and Ju Wenjun, Greek Yelena Dembo, Anna Muzychuk of Slovenia, Maria Muzichyk of Ukraine and Anna Zatonskih of United States made it to the third round while the remaining seven matches will be decided in tie-break games of shorter duration.

Humpy had to defend accurately with her black pieces and she did not disappoint her fans. Justifying her top billing, the Indian played intelligently in a Queen’s gambit declined game and even as Jovanka tried to put some pressure through the center, Humpy was always in control.

The pieces got traded at regular intervals and the players arrived at a heavy pieces endgame wherein Humpy did not have any troubles in securing the draw she needed to proceed to the next round.

Harika was in her elements in beating Tatiana who played black and was under similar pressure like Jovanka. The English opening by Harika gave her a tangible advantage in the ensuing middle game and consistent pressure on the queen side forced Tatiana to part with a pawn. The resulting endgame was clearly better for Harika and she wrapped the issue in quick time.