Harika bows out of World Women's Chess Championship

Sochi: Grandmaster Dronavalli Harika missed out on winning opportunities and boweed out of the World Women's Chess Championship after losing the 10-minute tiebreaker against Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine in the semifinals here yesterday.

Harika missed her chances in the first game of the second set of tie-break games and then was outplayed in the second game to lose 0.5-1.5 in 10-minute chess. Harika was unlucky not to win the first game of the 10-minute game. Playing white, the English Opening led to level middle game but Harika picked up her pace in the queen
and Bishops endgame.

After winning a couple of pawns, Harika was on course to victory but an incredible blunder on move 83 saw the advantage evaporate. Muzychuk pounced on her chance to ensure parity. In the second game, Harika lost after giving up a handful of pawns in the endgame.

Earlier in the day, Harika had to bounce back in the rapid tiebreaker and it was a cracker of a contest. Playing white in the first game, Harika found herself on the receiving end despite getting an advantage yet again in the middle game with her original ideas. Muzychuk, however found some resourceful tactics when it mattered the most and Harika's valiant attempts to look for an attack went in vain.

Harika was looking down and out in the second rapid game when she lost a pawn in the middle game and held a worse position. Things were not very complicated but Muzychuk lost the thread of the position in her bid to equalize and find the much needed draw. Down to last two pawns, minor pieces and a rook each, Harika trapped Muzychuk in a web of complexities and weaved an unlikely checkmate web that forced the Ukrainian to part with a knight for just pawn.

The remaining technicalities were child's play for Harika. In the other semifinal, Natalija Pogonina of Russia prevailed over Sweden's Pia Cramling in the rapid tie-break games itself. The Russian drew the first game with black pieces and then gave a superb display of technical chess to proceed to the finals.

Pogonina drew the first game of the tie-break rather comfortably with her black pieces. Cramling got very little out of the opening and when black started exerting pressure along the centre, the Swede could find nothing more than repeating moves in a complex middle game.

In the second game of the tiebreaker, Pogonina was at her best and picked up a couple of pawns en route to reaching a rook and opposite coloured Bishops endgame. Cramling tried to fight as best as possible but after a marathon 116 moves, Pogonina forced resignation.

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