Having won a bronze medal two times in the knockout format previously, Harika was again back to the winning ways with black
Grandmaster Dronavalli Harika progressed on to the pre-quarterfinals of the World Women’s Chess Championships’ second game, summoning Georgia’s Bela Khotenashvili to a crushing defeat in the process.
Harika remains India’s last hope for a medal at the Championships, after medal-hopeful Grandmaster Koneru Humpy’s shocking ouster. The Andhra Pradesh woman won with black in the second rapid game.
Although Harika had drawn the second game of the match as white without achieving much, she knew her chances would be bright in the tiebreaker- she is known to be a rapid specialist.
Dronavalli is a bronze medallist in the two prior editions in the knockout format of the Championships.
It was the second rapid game in which Harika reached a Pirc defense. Although its a strategy opening that enjoys relatively less following in elite chess circles, it is known to simplify complex games.
Harika got her opportunity in the middle game when Bela miscalculated her position, giving her opponent an open door to attack.
As her pieces were serving on the queenside, the Georgian champion went with breaking from the center which ultimately proved to be crucial as Harika was at the ready to afflict upon this altruism.
The Indian Grandmaster exchanged the queens at the right juncture in no time and piled more pressure through the center to win a piece.
The last of the technicalities were frivolous and it was all but over for Khotenashvili after 50 moves.
In the first game of rapid itself, Harika was very close to winning. However, she failed to convert an almost winning advantage from a Caro Kann defense.
Disappointing Exit for Humpy
Earlier, Humpy’s campaign came to a bitter end after she was defeated by Poland’s Jolanta Zawadzka in the second game of the second round of the World Chess Championships.
She drew the first game as black relatively easily.
However, Humpy failed to get the desired complications with white as her search for an advantage abruptly came to an end.
The Indian chess mastermind, who was back in chess before the Olympiad after a two-year sabbatical, will now be waiting for another two years if she has to have a go at the next cycle of World Chess Championship.
Nonetheless, Humpy’s troubles don’t end there, as Humpy might also need direct seed in the proposed candidates’ tournament for women, as she was ousted in the second round itself.
In the middle of the game, with both the players exchanging rooks and queen, it felt as though the game was headed for a draw.
However, Humpy committed a mistake of going for a breakthrough on the king’s side, compromising the king’s position in turn.
As a result, Bela soon sensed the opportunity and with some finely calculated moves, won a pawn in the minor piece. What followed was nothing but a formality, as the polish won after 78 moves.