Padmini, 2 games away from second Grandmaster norm

Tehran: Grandmaster (GM) Dronavalli Harika and International Master (IM) Padmini Rout remained on course for creating history by winning the tie-breaks of the second round and advanced to the last 16 stage of World Women’s Chess Championship here Friday.
Padmini’s job was no doubt the tougher among the two Indians. She was up against Zhao Xue, a former world junior girls’ champion from China, and currently ranked World No. 8. Padmini was under pressure but turned the tables on Xue in the first game itself and finished the second one in style as Xue tried to win from an equal position.
Padmini had her back to the wall in a Catalan opening as black but fought on with vigour, only to see Xue blundering her Queen in the first game that almost secured her victory in the match.
It must be mentioned here that if Padmini reaches the semifinals of the ongoing tournament, she will get her second GM norm and if she wins the title here she will become a Grandmaster automatically. Her form has so far been good in this tournament and in both matches she has overcome opponents ranked higher than her.
“Wouldn’t like to talk much,” the Orissa girl said over the phone. “As of now I am taking it one match at a time. This being the World Championships, every game is tough. I am just concentrating on retaining my focus,” she added.
Meanwhile Harika after drawing both tie-break games under normal time control with Dinara Saduakassova of Kazakhstan, emerged the superior player in the faster version. The first game turned out to be good for the Indian as she won and a draw in the return rapid game sealed her berth in the next round.
In the next round, Harika will take on Sopiko Guramishvili of Georgia, while Padmini will meet another Chinese in Tan Zhongyi.
“I know about my opponent,” said Padmini. “She is a very tough player. However, I am sure my exposure in the Chinese League will stand me in good stead.”
Two matches got stretched to the final Armageddon game. The most interesting clash was between Zhongyi and former champion Anna Ushenina of China where both players won three games apiece with black pieces before Zhongyi won the tie-breaker by virtue of drawing the final game as black.


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