Women's Speed Chess Semifinal: Harika-Danielian Preview

Women's Speed Chess Semifinal: Harika-Danielian Preview

| 14 | News

The Women's Speed Chess Championship continues today with the first semifinal of the competition between GM Harika Dronavalli (India) and GM Elina Danielian (Armenia).

The winner of the Women's Speed Chess Championship will qualify for the general 2019 Speed Chess Championship and for the FIDE Grand Swiss in October in Isle of Man.

After a number of Junior Speed Chess matches we're back with the women's tournament this week. Today the first semifinal will be played, and then on Sunday we'll have Alexandra Kosteniuk vs Valentina Gunina.

You can watch Harika Dronavalli vs. Elina Danielian today, Thursday, June 20 at 9 a.m. Pacific (18:00 CEST, 9:30 p.m. IST) with live commentary by IM Sopiko Guramishvili and IM Anna Rudolf on and

Women's Speed Chess Championship bracket
The 28-year-old Harika (@elegance_riks) lives in Hyderabad, India, where she will be playing the match. For more biographical details on her, see the preview about her match with Marie Sebag, which she won on May 30 with a score of 15.5-10.5.

Harika won both the 5|1 and 3|1 segments in that match, and tied the bullet portion. This was a nice tactic from game six in the match:

Afterward, Harika revealed that she had prepared quite seriously: "I started working on playing a lot of games, especially bullet because I am not used to playing one-minute games at all," she said. "So every day [played] like five to six hours of bullet games."

Harika Dronavalli Women Speed Chess
The 40-year-old Danielian (@ClassyEl) lives in Yerevan, Armenia (more about her here) and entered the Women's Speed Chess Championship by winning the qualifier tournament. Then, as the lowest seed playing the top seed, she kicked Kateryna Lagno out of the tournament.

Like Harika, Danielian had warmed up a bit before that match and perhaps that made the difference: "My preparation was playing online, two, three days ago, to make myself comfortable to play in front of the monitor," she said.

Her match with Lagno was an extremely close affair, which was eventually decided in the final bullet game:

Elina Danielian Women Speed Chess

No fewer than 16 games pop from a database search for games between these players. The score is 7.5-3.5 for the Indian woman in classical games, and she leads 3.5-1.5 in rapid/blitz. Their last encounter was at the 2017 World Rapid Championship in Saudi Arabia:

Harika said that she will be more comfortable going into this second match: “I got familiar with how the whole system works during the match," she said. "So this time I am bit more relaxed than the first match.”

Danielian: “From the first match I learned that I need to work on my 'one-move' blunders. It also showed me that to play an online tournament is very interesting, however not so easy as it seems. It's a little bit another kind of feelings, which are also very close to me. The same pressure, fight, even intrigue.”

Harika said the chances are 50-50, while Danielian refrained from giving percentages: “I don't know about my chances," she said. "I don't want to make any predictions but I hope it will be an interesting match and we can enjoy it.”

Prizes Women's Speed Chess Championship

Asked what is her opponent's biggest strength, Harika said: “She has very good results in the matches until now, so it looks like she is very good at online chess.”

Danielian: “I watched the Harika-Sebag match and I already have some ideas about Harika's playing style, her weak and strong sides, but I will not be open with my conclusion about it. I can only say that Harika is a very, very solid player and one match is not enough to have a full image about my opponent.”

The prize fund for the semifinals is $3,000 each. The winner earns $1,500 and advances to the final, while the other $1,500 is split by win percentage.

The Women's Speed Chess Championship takes place May 22-June 27 on the live server. All matches are broadcast live with commentary by IMs Anna Rudolf and Sopiko Guramishvili on and

Here's the full schedule:

  • Lagno vs. Elina Danielian (Round 2, Match 1): 13.0-14.0 (News post.)
  • Kosteniuk vs. Zatonskih (Round 2, Match 2): 20-8 (News post.)
  • Gunina vs. Krush (Round 2, Match 3): 24-5 (News post.)
  • Dronavalli vs. Sebag (Round 2, Match 4): 15.5-10.5 (News post.)
  • Semifinal 1: Harika vs. Danielian: June 20, 2019 9 a.m. Pacific (18:00 CEST, 9:30 p.m. IST)
  • Semifinal 2: Kosteniuk-Gunina: June 23, 2019 9 a.m. Pacific (18:00 CEST)
  • WSCC Championship: June 27, 2019 at 9 a.m. Pacific (18:00 CEST)
Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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