Humpy Blunders, Loses 1st In Sochi; Zhao Beats Pogonina

Humpy Blunders, Loses 1st In Sochi; Zhao Beats Pogonina

| 11 | Chess Event Coverage

She seemed well on her way to score 7.0/7, but a blunder resulted in GM Humpy Koneru's first loss at the Women's World Championship in Sochi, Russia. The top seed was defeated today by IM Mariya Muzichuk of Ukraine.

Russia is in danger of losing its last participant as WGM Natalija Pogonina lost her white game to GM Zhao Xue. The other two games in the quarterfinals, GM Pia Cramling vs. GM Anna Muzychuk and IM Meri Arabidze vs GM Harika Dronavalli, ended in draws.

With only eight players left, the SCC Galactica in Krasnaya Polyana is getting rather empty. The quarterfinals started on Thursday with GM Humpy Koneru, WGM Natalija Pogonina, IM Meri Arabidze, GM Harika Dronavalli, GM Pia Cramling, GM Zhao Xue and the Muzychuk sisters, GM Anna and IM Mariya.

Eight players left in Sochi. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

The first draw came about rather quickly. Perhaps still shaking a bit from her playoff the other day, IM Meri Arabidze agreed to a draw on move 15 (!) with GM Harika Dronavalli, just after she had “won” the bishop pair. A well-timed draw offer from the Indian grandmaster it seems!

A surprisingly quick draw between Arabidze and Harika. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

The next game to finish was another draw. GM Pia Cramling, at 51 easily the oldest participant, got a classic advantage in an isolated queen's pawn position. At some point GM Anna Muzychuk decided to sacrifice a pawn, but the way Cramling played it she never got a7.

Another draw in Pia Cramling vs Anna Muzychuk. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

GM Humpy Koneru seemed well on her way to “do a Caruana” but like Anish Giri (in Qatar), Magnus Carlsen (in Wijk aan Zee) and Hikaru Nakamura (in Gibraltar), the Indian grandmaster also failed to do so! 

While Muzychuk was taking too much time to prepare an attack on the kingside, Humpy won a pawn on the queenside. But, after winning six straight games, her sense of danger was perhaps somewhat clouded. Moving her knight to the rim was a bad idea, and a pawn move close to her king allowed a devastating queen move.

The top seed in danger! | | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

GM Natalija Pogonina is in serious danger of getting eliminated. She needs to win as Black tomorrow against GM Zhao Xue, who won in a Catalan today. 

In an equal position, Pogonina's kingside pawn push was answered by a strong central counter, and Zhao took the initiative. She later won a pawn, but it looks like the opposite-colored bishop ending was still a draw, until Pogonina erred on move 57.

China's Zhao Xue takes the lead. | | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

2015 Women's World Championship | Round 4 Results

Name vs Name Score Playoff
Muzychuk,M (UKR, 2526) - Koneru,H (IND, 2581) 1-0
Pogonina,N (RUS, 2456) - Zhao,X (CHN, 2527) 0-1
Cramling,P (SWE, 2495) - Muzychuk,A (UKR, 2552) ½-½
Arabidze,M (GEO, 2374) - Harika,D (IND, 2492) ½-½

The Women's World Championship takes place March 17-April 7 in Sochi, Russia. World Champion GM Hou Yifan is not defending her title; she took part in the Hawaii Chess Festival instead.

The total prize fund of the championship is U.S. $450,000. Every player gets $3,750, those who make it to round two get $5,500, for round three it is $8,000, round four $12,000, round five (semifinals) $20,000, the silver medalist $30,000, and the winner $60,000.

More from PeterDoggers
Gender Bias Research Shows Parents, Mentors Shortchange Girls’ Chess Potential

Gender Bias Research Shows Parents, Mentors Shortchange Girls’ Chess Potential

Nepomniachtchi Repeats Levitov Chess Week Victory

Nepomniachtchi Repeats Levitov Chess Week Victory