Harika survives against Zhao Xue; to play tiebreaker
PTI | Nov 21, 2012, 09.04 PM IST
MANSIYSK (Russia): Grandmaster D Harika survived by the skin of her teeth benefiting from a big blunder in a lost position against Zhao Xue of China in the return game of the quarterfinals of the World Women’s chess championship.
After drawing the first round, Harika played with white and missed serious tactical chances which came in the early stages of the middle game and thereafter could not compete on level terms with the Chinese player.
However, a late blunder by Zhao in a completely winning position allowed Harika to escape with a draw through perpetual checks.
Anna Ushenina of Ukraine made it to the semifinals defeating fancied Nadezhda Kosintseva of Russia in the second game. Ushenina won by 1.5-0.5 and sent back the last remaining Russian in the championship.
Harika remains in the championship as the last Indian in the fray since the ouster of top rated Koneru Humpy in the first round.
In the other tension-filled second game of the quarters, Antoaneta Stefanova pulled one back against Marie Sebag of France to force the mini-match into a tiebreaker to be played tomorrow.
The other match between Chinese duo of Ju Wenjun and Huang Qian ended in a draw and will also be fought in the tiebreaker.
The $4,50,000 prize money tournament will have three matches under tiebreak rules to decide two remaining berths for the semifinal ahead. To start with there will be two rapid games with 25 minutes each and if scores are still level two ten minutes game will be played.
Should the deadlock continue, there will be two five minutes game and if the tie is still not resolved, an Armageddon game will be played in which white must win to survive.
Harika was a little unlucky as she got many things right at the beginning. An unsuspecting Zhao fell in a deep piece of preparation in the middle game arising out of the Kmoch variation in the Nimzo Indian defense.
Harika blitzed out the opening moves and got huge advantage on the clock as well as the board. It was a well prepared pawn sacrifice that gave Harika huge advantage after an error on move 16 by Zhao.
However, it was not to be as Harika could not spot the right manoeuvre and subsequently made many mistakes which not only brought Zhao in the game, but also gave her a huge plus as the game progressed. The Chinese played the ensuing endgame in machine-like fashion, making fine positional moves. In the end the extra pawn proved too much.
Zhao knocked down two more pawns and was on the verge of victory when disaster struck her and she allowed a simple draw through continuous checks to her king.
Results quarterfinals game 2: Huang Qian (Chn) drew with Ju Wenjun (Chn) 1-1 goes to tiebreak; D Harika (ind) drew with Zhao Xue (Chn) 1-1 goes to tiebreak; Antoaneta Stefanova (Bul) beat marie Sebag (Fra) 1-1, goes to tiebreak; Anna Ushenina (Ukr) beat Nadezhda Kosintseva (Rus) 1.5-0.5.
Beauty and brain.