Women’s Speed Chess Championship: Harika Eliminates Kosteniuk In Tiebreak


GM Harika Dronavalli eliminated GM Alexandra Kosteniuk from the FIDE Chess.com Women’s Speed Chess Championship on Wednesday. Kosteniuk started very strong, but Harika came back, leveled the score just in time, and then decided the match in the tiebreak. 

The next match is on Thursday, June 17, at 7:00 a.m. Pacific / 16:00 CEST between GM Antoaneta Stefanova and WGM Deysi Cori.

The live broadcast of the match.

Initially, this was a tough match for Harika. The Indian grandmaster, who had entered the Main Event by winning the first qualifier on May 28, couldn’t win a single game in the five-minute portion and was down three points going into the 3|1 segment.

The first game was right away incredibly exciting with Kosteniuk, one of the seeded players, eventually winning on time in an equal position:

As said, Harika couldn’t win a five-minute game, but she did have a chance in the last one:

The change of time control and the break between games helped Harika. She immediately struck in the first 3|1 game and after a draw, she also won her next white game to narrow the gap to just one point. It remained that way until the bullet portion.

Also in the bullet, the players were a great match with a remarkably high number of fighting draws even in those 1|1 games. After 22 games, with a minute and 13 seconds left on the match clock and one more game to be played, Kosteniuk was still up a point when Harika managed to win on demand to force a tiebreak.

Four more bullet games were played, and the first two ended in draws. Then, in game 26, while Kosteniuk was defending a worse but perhaps holdable endgame, she forgot about her clock for a moment and lost on time. Trying in vain to win the next game, the former women’s world champion had to avoid a draw and then lost the last bullet game as well.

“I was just trying to play some unclear chess and see what happens,” said Harika about her strategy after the five-minute portion. “When I equalized in 3|1, somewhere I felt now I have a chance. I was not very sure about my bullet performance so I was just trying to figure out, you know, to play fast. It was a good day for me and bad luck for my opponent; it could have gone either way.”

Kosteniuk earned $1,000 for finishing 9th-16th whereas Harika moves on to the quarterfinals, where she will meet the winner of the all-Ukrainian match, GM Anna Muzychuk vs. IM Iulija Osmak, that will be played Saturday, June 19, at 8:00 a.m. Pacific / 17:00 Central Europe.

All games

2021 Women's Speed Chess Championship results

The FIDE Chess.com 2021 Women’s Speed Chess Championship is an online competition for titled female players. The qualifiers for the event were held May 28-June 6, while the main event runs June 10-July 3. Players battle for their shares of a total prize fund of $66,000.

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