Kozhikode: In the first major upset at the tenth Asian women’s chess championship, India’s Dronavalli Harika beat second seed Zhao Xue of China in the second round on Monday.
Top seed Koneru Humpy of India also failed to win, being held by China’s Xu Yuanyuan. At the end of Round 2, Harika and the Chinese trio of Le Ruofang, Gu Xiaobing and Tian Tian were leading with two points each.
Half-a-point behind the leaders were Humpy, S. Meenakshi, Aarthie Ramaswami, S. Vijayalakshmi, Safira Shahnaz, the Chinese band of Wang Pin, Ruan Lufei, Wang Yu, Huang Qian, Xu Yuanyuan, and Sergeeva Maria of Kazakhstan.
Harika, playing black on the second board, faced the English Opening and sacrificed a pawn in the early stages which helped her launch a queen-rook attack on white’s king. Zhao resigned after the 42nd move.
Playing on the top board, Humpy missed a fair chance against Xu after an exchange of pawns on the 21st move had given her the early advantage.
But she wasted the chance by trying a similar trick on the 27th move. Though Xu enjoyed an advantage after a rook exchange in the 29th move, she too failed to capitalise as Humpy bounced back in the 44th.
Meenakshi gave a few anxious moments to third seed Wang on the third board after employing the King’s Indian Defence against a queen-pawn opening. The game ended in a draw after 41 moves.
In the Vietnam-China duel featuring Hoang Thanh Trang and Gu Xiaobing, the latter employed the Banko Gambit and kept improving her position from the beginning. Trang was forced to resign after the 42nd move.
Aarthie and Vijayalakshmi were also engaged in an interesting game after the latter had opted for the Pirc Defence. However, the Indians settled for a draw after 50 moves. (PTI)