Posted on: December 15, 2012
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Harika cruises to semis of World Women Chess Championship

By Ravi Kumar

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Harika cruises to semis of World Women Chess Championship

Indian grandmaster Dronavalli Harika came up with a scintillating performance during the tiebreak games to overcome the stiff challenge thrown by Zhao Xue of China and enter the last four stage of the World Women Chess Championship. It was a memorable win for the Andhra girl who has been in great form of her career at present.

Harika has set the records right putting up a brave front after a real scare in the second game on yesterday and beckoned her top form to win the first rapid game and then drawing the second easily as white.

The victory denotes that the former World Youth Chess Champion will not only remain in the championship but will also have a greater chance of having a go at the title with just two matches to go in the premier women event. Definitely, she has now improved her chances of winning the title than never before. Though, she came closer to winning major titles in the past such as during 2010 Asian Games and World Women Chess Championship in 2010, she couldn’t succeed.

In the next round now, Harika will be pitted against Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria who was 2004 World Champion. As far as the performances are considered, the Indian GM must hold the edge because of her sharp reflexes.

Chinese Ju Wenjun handed out a defeat to her compatriot Hunag Qian, while Stefanova managed a win against Marie Sebag of France in the other tiebreak matches.

In the other semifinal, Wenjun is expected to face Anna Ushenina of Ukraine who had won in straight games against Nadezhda Kosintseva of Russia.

Harika won with black pieces in the first rapid game that remained to be the decisive factor for the rest of the match. Zhao Xue was the last recognized player remaining and she was expelled out in great style.

After taking a cue from her earlier game, Harika went ahead for something unique that only she knows best instead of guessing. The King's Indian turned out to be a good choice as Zhao Xue could not get complexities in her favour she was expecting for.

The central game had all ingredients of a typical King's Indian wherein black always had counter play against white's initiative.

Harika received a dangerous passed pawn in the middle as the game went on and took it to the seventh rank after Zhao blundered. The game lasted 33 moves. The Indian has to make use of all her experience though in bits and pieces to manage a win eventually.

In the return game, Harika faced the Hedgehog structure with white pieces and got a winning position in quick time. Ultimately, she played it safe for a long time and obtained the required draw after 85 moves. It was a lucky day for her to remain contention even after the initial hiccups during the quarters.

Stefanova overcame Marie Sebag 2-0 in rapid games, while Wenjun drew both rapid games but won the ten-minute blitz by 1.5-0.5 against Huang Qian to remain as one of the favourites to win the title.

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