Following the 2nd round with the classical time control, the sixth day of the FIDE Women’s World Championship (Sochi, Krasnaya Polyana) was reserved for the tie-breaks with rapid and blitz games.
Five pairs were to settle the score in this format.
A reminder about the tie-break regulations:
It starts with two rapid games of 25 minutes + 10 seconds per move. If the score remains equal, the players proceed to another two games with a slightly faster time control – 10 minutes + 10 seconds per move. If these games do not determine the winner as well, then there are two blitz games: 5 minutes + 3 seconds per move. Finally, if the score is still even, there is an Armageddon game: White has 5 minutes, Black has 4 minutes, 3 seconds per move are added after the move 61, and a draw counts as a win for Black.
At the start of the round panic spread around the room as former world champion Anna Ushenina failed to appear on time and lost the first game according to the zero-tolerance rule.
She was seen at the lunch a bit earlier and everything looked normal.
A phone call back to the hotel revealed that the reason was quite trivial – her mobile phone switched off, and after powering up it changed the clock back to the Ukrainian time zone (which is one hour behind Sochi). Ushenina didn’t notice the difference and consequently missed the round start.
The Ukrainian showed up few minutes later and then patiently waited in the media room for her turn to play the second game.
With white pieces Ushenina achieved significant advantage, won a pawn, but Sebag was stubborn in defence and eventually earned a draw to qualify for the next round.
Another former world champion, Antoaneta Stefanova, didn’t get anything with white pieces and Inna Gaponenko easily held a draw. But in the next game the Bulgarian pulled a powerful performance and showed the tremendous potential of the Berlin-like pawn structure. White’s majority on the king’s flank didn’t count as black steamrolled the enemy’s queen’s flank. By 1,5-0,5 Stefanova is through to the 3rd round.
Harika Dronavalli started with a win against Irina Krush, but later nearly ruined everything when she tried to exchange too many pieces with white. The Indian was graced with a little bit of luck as Krush couldn’t find the way to increase the advantage and the game soon fizzled out in a draw.
“I made up my mind that today somehow I am going to win. I came with this idea.”, Harika said after the match. She is set to play former world champion Alexandra Kosteniuk in the next round.
Mariya Muzychuk convincingly outplayed Monika Socko 2-0. But during the games Muzychuk looked quite nervous. She explained: “I was very afraid to miscalculate, to blunder something. Also the fact that Monika had won an absolutely lost position in the first round tie-break also affected me.”
The most closely contested was the match between Bela Khotenashvili (Georgia) and Huang Qian (China). After two draws with the classical time control, the players proceeded to play four more draws in rapid.
Khotenashvili broke the lock with a black victory in the first blitz game. The return game drove everyone in the press room to the edge of the seats.
It looked completely equal, with symmetrical pawn structure, but Qian stepped up the pace and broke through on the queenside, winning a piece and reaching a completely winning position.
But then the Chinese had some sort of blackout inexplicably blundering a whole rook! She had plenty of time on the clock, more than 1 minute as compared to Khotenashvili’s 20 seconds.
After the many adventures the game was drawn and Khotenashvili advances to play Zhao Xue.
Round 3 pairings:
Koneru Humpy IND 2581 – Galliamova Alisa RUS 2484
Sebag Marie FRA 2482 – Pogonina Natalia RUS 2456
Muzychuk Anna UKR 2552 – Javakhishvili Lela GEO 2481
Arabidze Meri GEO 2374 – Cmilyte Vktorija LTU 2530
Kosteniuk Alexandra RUS 2529 – Harika Dronavalli IND 2492
Cramling Pia SWE 2495 – Gunina Valentina RUS 2528
Zhao Xue CHN 2527 – Khotenashvili Bela GEO 2513
Stefanova Antoaneta BUL 2552 – Muzychuk Mariya UKR 2526