Kolkata: Grandmaster Dronavalli Harika and International Master Padmini Rout are still on course to creating history by winning their respective tiebreaks of the second round and thus advancing to the last-16 stage of World Women’s Chess Championship.
The international master Padmini, was up for a hard task as she was up against China’s Zhao Xue, a former world junior girls’ champion. The Chinese was ranked eighth at the start of the championship. Padmini was under pressure from early on but managed to turn the tables on Xue in the first game itself and finished the second one in style as Xue tried to win from an equal position.
Harika managed to draw both tiebreak games under normal time regulations against Dinara Saduakassova of Kazakhstan. It was then time for her to showcase her skills in the faster version of the game and she did not disappoint her fans. The first game turned out to be in favour of the Indian as she won and a draw in the return rapid game sealed her berth in the quarter finals.
Harika gave an endgame lesson to Saduakassova out of a Sicilian defense game as white. Getting a small advantage thanks to a protected passed pawn in the centre, Harika manoeuvred her Bishop and rook well to net a pawn and ultimately the game.
Saduakassova tried her level best to make amends in the return game but the Indian was up to the taskin hand. Sensing her queen will hold off two white rooks in the endgame, Harika had little to worry about in holding on to the draw.
Padmini had her back to the wall in a Catalan opening as black but fought on and showcased her fighting spirit, only to see Xue blundering her queen in the first game that almost secured her victory in the match.
In the next round, Harika will take on Sopiko Guramishvili of Georgia, while Padmini will meet another Chinese in Tan Zhongyi.
(With inputs from Hindustan Times)