Dronavalli Harika made it to the quarterfinals of World Women’s Chess Championship after defeating Sopiko Guramishvili of Georgia 3.5-2.5 in the second set of tie-break games.
After playing it safe in normal time control, Harika dominated the proceedings in the rapid games and should have won in the first set itself as she misplayed a winning position in the second rapid game.
However, the Andhra girl did not lose heart and came back even stronger in the 10-minute game to ensure a smooth sailing into the quarterfinals for the third time in a row.
The other Indian in the fray, Padmini Rout turned out to be luckless in the tie-breaker against Tan Zhongyi of China and squandered away a full point lead before bowing out of the competition.
Padmini had won the first rapid game and was just a draw away from making it to the last-eight. However she lost the next one to set up 10-minute game wherein form deserted her.
Top seed Ju Wenjun of China and third seed Alexandra Kosteniuk of Russia also made it to the quarterfinals, holding their nerves together against Olga Girya of Russia and Pia Cramling of Sweden respectively.
The quarterfinals will see Harika clash with Nana Dzagnidze of Georgia and the Indian will start as a slight favourite on rating and her superior form she has displayed thus far especially in the faster version.
In the other quarterfinal matches of this USD 450000 prize money championship, Ju Wenjun of China will face compatriot Zhongyi, Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine will battle it out against former champion Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria and Alexandra Kosteniuk will meet Ni Shiqun of China.
Harika survived some anxious moments in the rapid tie-breaker before steering herself to safety in a complex rook and pawns endgame.
The first game under 10-minute time control was a game of fluctuating fortunes but Harika kept herself in contention and made the most of her chances. Needing a win in the return game, Guramishvili did not find the required resources.
Padmini Rout played a fine first game in rapid to turn the tables on Zhongyi but lost the return game and subsequently the match. The Odisha girl won many hearts for her fearless play in the championship where she first beat 25th seed Elina Danielian of Armenia and then highly regarded Zhao Xue of China.