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Humpy, Harika remain on top

Kozhikode: Two Indians — top seed Koneru Humpy and ninth seed Dronavalli Harika — were leading with 4.5 points each after the fifth round of the tenth Asian women’s chess championship here Thursday.

Close on their heels was another Indian, WGM S. Vijayalakshmi with four points. Xu Yuanyuan, Zhao Xue, Gu Xiaobing, Zhang Jilin, Wang Yu (all China) and Le Kieu Thien Kim (Vietnam) were trailing in third spot with 3.5 points apiece.

Playing on the top-board, joint overnight leader Humpy engaged in queen’s gambit game and sacrificed a pawn on the 20th move to make room for other pieces. Gu Xiaobing, playing black on the other hand, blundered on the 30th and was trapped by the Indian on the 41st move.

Harika made a bold move on the 25th after entering into queen’s gambit to launch a fierce attack on her opponent’s king side. She continued to maintain her forward march and forced her rival, Yuanyuan, to resign on the 47th move.

Employing English opening on the third board, Vijayalakshmi made her first attack on the sixth move. Despite losing pawns at regular intervals, she positioned her major pieces comfortably to win in 55 moves. The game took an interesting turn after a queen exchange on the 21st, with the Chennai girl having only two pawns and two rooks, compared to Ruofan’s six pawns, a rook and a bishop. However, the Indian WGM made full use of the exchange down in the 26th and forced Ruofan to resign.

WGM Aarthie Ramaswamy failed to cause another upset when seventh seed China’s Wang Yu broke her Sicilian defence after sacrificing a bishop to expose her king on the 29th.

Running short of time, both players were forced to make quick moves in the closing stages. Aarthie surrendered meekly after 36 moves.

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