Harika in tiebreaks of World Women's Chess semis

Harika in tiebreaks of World Women's Chess semis

Harika in tiebreaks of World Women's Chess semis

Grandmaster D Harika kept herself in contention for a place in the finals by settling for a second straight draw with Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine in the second game of the World Women's Chess semifinals here.

After drawing the first game as black, it was Harika's turn to exert pressure with her white pieces in the return game and she tried hard to make it count before splitting the point.

In the other game of the semifinal Natalija Pogonina of Russia again won on demand against Pia Cramling of Sweden to force a tiebreaker in this match too. The Russian had lost the first game with black pieces and it was the third time during the course of this knockout championship that Pogonina scored a victory in a must-win situation.

With the stage set for a thrilling tiebreaker to decide the two finalists, Harika and Cramling will be under more pressure although the latter is a rating favourite against the Russian.

For the records, the players will play two tiebreak games of 25 seconds each and in case of a tied score two more games of ten minutes each will be played. If the scores are still level in this 450000 USD championship, Armageddon game with five minutes to white and four to black will be played to determine the winner.

However in this case, white will be forced to win as in case of a draw black will go through to the next round. To sum it up, it will be about nerves compiled with skills that will see the two finalists through to decide the next women's world champion.

Harika starts as the underdog against Muzychuk who not only has a higher rating but also is someone who ousted pre-championship favourite Koneru Humpy in the quarterfinals.

It was a Dutch Leningrad by Muzychuk that met with an original setup from Harika. The middle game saw black saddled with a weaker pawn structure and Harika kept pushing for more despite the pieces getting traded at regular intervals. In the heavy pieces endgame that ensued, the Indian was still in command but could not quite force matters despite enjoying advantage. Muzychuk, to her credit, gave up a pawn when the opportunity came and reached a rook and pawns endgame with pawns on the same side. Harika kept looking for more but in the end the draw was reached after 78 moves.

Cramling went for a very risky Sicilian defense against Pogonina. Needing just a draw to go through to the finals - the veteran Cramling, who is a surprise in the semis at over fifty years of age, is here because of her uncompromising chess all through and this was probably the reason for her to continue in similar vein.

Pogonina got her king side attack rolling in almost no time and it was clear that black struggled from the start. Finally, Pogonina’s Queen and Knight created havoc in the opposition camp and it was all over in just 38 moves.

Cramling will now have to deal with a resurgent Pogonina in the shorter version, something her previous opponents in the championship have found impossible to tackle.

Results quarterfinal game two: D Harika (Ind) drew with Mariya Muzychuk 1-1, goes to tiebreak; Natalija Pogonina (Rus) beat Pia Cramling (Swe) 1-1, goes to tiebreak.

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