Home Sports World Women’s Chess semi-final: Harika draws against Mariya in first game

World Women’s Chess semi-final: Harika draws against Mariya in first game

By Venkatachari Jagannathan,

Chennai : India’s Grandmaster (GM) Harika Dronavalli on Sunday drew her first game in the World Women’s Chess Championship 2015 semi-final round against Ukraine’s Women GM (WGM) Mariya Muzychuk in 60 moves at Sochi in Russia.

The 24-year-old Dronavalli (FIDE rating 2492), ranked 16th among the women chess players, drew the game fighting hard against the 23-year-old Muzychuk (FIDE rating 2526) ranked 12th in the world.

Playing white pieces, the Ukranian opted for the Scotch opening.

“This opening is rarely played in the top tournaments. Harika seems to have prepared well in this line given the speed at which she played her moves,” WGM Vijayalakshmi Subbaraman told IANS.

On move 12, Dronavalli went in for exchange of queens. After trading of some more pieces, both the players were left with two rooks, couple of minor pieces and pawns.

The position was equal and the game was expected to end in a draw if both the fighters played well without making any errors.

On move 24, Muzychuk went in for exchange of one rook as Dronavalli did not allow her opponent to dominate one file with her rook.

However, the Ukranian had a better pawn structure and her rook and white bishop had active play while the movement of Dronavalli’s knight and rook were restricted.

“The position is still balanced. But with black, Harika did a good job controlling her position. I think she is playing smart chess,” Susan Polgar, a four-time women’s world chess champion, told IANS.

At the end of the 32nd move, Muzychuk had two passed pawns on her king side and Dronavalli’s focus was on restricting their progress.

The one point which was in favour of the Indian girl was the time pressure that her opponent faced.

However, Muzychuk completed her stipulated moves within the allotted time and transferred the pressure to Dronavalli.

At the end of the 46th move, the position on the board was slightly weaker to Dronavalli with her opponent coordinating her rook, bishop and king to support the passer.

An error on the part of Ukranian would be enough to get a draw but they do not generally make such mistakes, Subbaraman said.

And that is what precisely happened on the 48th move, when Muzychuk moved her bishop to the d7 square giving the much needed breather to Dronavalli.

The Indian seized the rare opportunity and equalised the position with some intelligent play and on the 60th move both the players signed the peace treaty.

“Harika played her moves very well after that,” Subbaraman said.

In the next game, Dronavalli will play white against Muzychuk.

The semi-final contests consist of two games. If the score after two games remains equal, the match is continued on the tie-break.