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Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019

Harika Dronavalli beats Tan Zhongyi to stay alive in World Chess Championship

Harika Dronavalli managed to hang on as she overcame China’s Tan Zhongyi in an epic 162-move game to level the match and take the second semi-final into tie-breaks at the Women’s World Chess Championship in Tehran

other-sports Updated: Feb 25, 2017 12:30 IST
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Hindustan Times
Harika Dronavalli is aiming to be the Women’s World Chess champion from India.
Harika Dronavalli is aiming to be the Women’s World Chess champion from India.(HT Photo)

Harika Dronavalli overcame a defiant Tan Zhongyi of China in the second game of the Women’s World Chess championship tournament in Tehran to register a win with white pieces and stay alive in the tournament.

Harika, the lone Indian in the draw and playing her third consecutive semi-final in the world championship, played out a 162-move epic against Tan to salvage a hard-fought win and take the semi-final into tie-breaks.

Having lost the first game with black pieces, this was a must-win game for Harika. She held the initiative for sustained periods of time thanks to an extra pawn piece. However, the Chinese International Master held firm and did not give Harika any easy opening.

Read | Harika’s mantra for women’s world chess championship: Go for gold

Harika committed a major blunder when she decided to exchange the Queens, not realising that she had missed a potential chance to check-mate the opponent. Although the Indian won the queen thanks to the extra pawn piece, it was immediately negated by Tan’s knight and it looked like she had lost the initiative.

With both players having gotten into time trouble, the pressure was immense as to how they would cope but remarkably, the Indian held her nerve as she went about breaking Tan’s defence.

As the game moved towards the end, both Harika and Tan became desperate. While Tan was equipped with just the king, Harika had the king, Bishop and Knight but no pawns. Cornering Tan’s King became a mighty challenge and after 117 moves, the race was on. With only 30 moves left to force a result, Harika was trying to corner Tan’s King but surprisingly, she was conservative on the Bishop plus Knight move.

Finally, after 162-moves and after close to eight hours, Harika got the win as she cornered Tan’s King to achieve check-mate and take the match into tie-breaks, which will be played on Saturday.

The winner of this fixture will play Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine in the final. Muzychuk defeated Russia’s Alexandra Kosteniuk in two straight classical games. Harika is aiming to become the first women’s world champion from India, having secured bronze twice in the 2012 and 2015 championships.

First Published: Feb 25, 2017 09:44 IST

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