SOCHI (Russia): Running out of luck, Indian Grandmaster Koneru Humpy crashed out of the Women's World Chess Championship after losing the rapid tiebreak 0.5-1.5 against Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine in the quarterfinals on Sunday.
Having done everything right, Humpy was cruising to a victory in the second game after drawing the first and a win would have sealed her berth in the quarters, instead the Indian lost track of the position and a one-move blunder saw the tables turned.
Mariya Muzychuk thus advanced to the semifinal to set up a clash with India's D Harika, who had made it to the semis at the expense of Meri Arabidze of Georgia.
On rating, Mariya is the favourite but going by the form, Harika might hold an edge especially as she also got a days' rest ahead of the semis.
Veteran Pia Cramling of Sweden was a surprise entrant in to the semis defeating Mariya's sister Anna Muzychuk in the second set of tiebreak games. Cramling won the first rapid game as black but lost the next that set the stage for the ten-minute games wherein the Swede triumphed winning the first game and drawing the second.
The 450000 $Championship saw the local challenge still alive as Natalija Pogonina ousted the last remaining Chinese - Zhao Xue in the rapid games. Pogonina won her second game in the match with black pieces in the first rapid game and a draw was enough for the Russian to move to the last four in the return game with white pieces.
All eyes were on Humpy as despite a tied result in normal time control games, she had shown enough tenacity and better understanding than Muzychuk. In the first rapid game as black Humpy again nearly outplayed Muzychuk after a Scotch opening by the Ukrainian.
The Indian had to find some fine defensive manoeuvres and then she picked up a pawn to exert pressure in the endgame. Muzychuk however also put up a decent fight to steer the game to a draw in 58 moves.
The second game was a Semi Slav and Humpy went for a topical variation to gain advantage after playing aggressively against the Isolated Queen pawn. Mariya made a few errors and lost material to find her in a hopeless situation and it was one last trick that salvaged the day.
Humpy had an extra rook and a position to be proud off when suddenly she missed a simple knight fork on the 35th move that proved disastrous. It was all over six moves later for the Indian.
Complete Results Quarterfinals: Koneru Humpy (Ind) lost to Mariya Muzychuk (Ukr) 1-1, 0.5-1.5; Zhoa Xue (Chn) lost to Natalija Pogonina (Rus) 1-1, 0.5-1.5; Pia Cramling (Swe) beat Anna Muzychuk (Ukr) 1-1, 1-1, 1.5-0.5; D Harika (Ind) beat Meri Arabidze (Geo) 1.5-0.5.
Semifinal line up: D Harika v/s Mariya Muzychuk; Pia Cramling v/s Natalija Pogonina.