Perhaps, it can be explained by getting used to it, but it seemed that the quarterfinal tie-breaks were not that nervous as the additional games of the previous rounds.
Only the first game of Stefanova – Sebag was full of mistakes, and the decisions of the players rocked and rolled the estimation of the position back and forth.
Marie Sebag in a good mood, she does not yet know what awaits her
The French got a winning position with the extra piece but then blundered. At the end the nerves of ex-world champion proved to be stronger, and she won this game. The first tie-break at this championship for Stefanova finished in the second rapid game which she conducted very convincingly and did not let her opponent strike back. The strong side of Sebag is the skill of creative attack on the opponent’s monarch, but as soon as the white pieces crowded on the kingside, Stefanova came up with the smart tactical exchange operation which left White with no activity, and soon without an exchange, too. The win with perfect score advanced ex-world champion to the semis.
Cola against cola. But Stefanova’s bottle’s bigger
It would be uneasy for Marie Sebag to come together after this painful loss. The French was leading in the match after she won the first ‘long’ game but gave it away in the second, then she had the winning position in the first rapid game, but spoiled it either…as the French say, a la guerre comme a la guerre!
This French saying should be also learned by the fourth number of the tournament Chinese Zhao Xue. Zhao Xue is a strong player, the constant participant of the team events as a member of Chinese national team.
Before the start of the tie-break Zhao Xue tried to stay positive
The team feeling is very important for her, one could feel it when she spoke about Russian club “Ekonomist” from Saratov, for which she played for several years. The Chinese was happy about the relations in the club, naming all the team members with their first names, and was upset that the team does not exist any longer.
Maybe this is the reason why it is difficult for her to play against the compatriots. In the last two world championships she got eliminated by Chinese. In 2008 it was Shen Yang in the second round, and in 2010 Zhao Xue lost to Ruan Lufei in the semi-finals. This time, it seemed, everything went right for her, at least she was not facing her compatriot in the quarters, as her opponent was Harika Drinavalli from India.
Chief arbiter Hal Bond explains what to do if the tie-break proceeds to the 10 minutes games. The players should stay at their places and wait for the drawing of color for the next two games .
The players listen with attention
But Xue’s nerves broke at this moment. After she let the win in the second classical game slip away, with three extra pawns in the pocket, it was truly not easy for her to embrace herself. Harika Dronavalli, on the opposite, took it as a sign and was very seriously psychologically prepared for the tie-break. As she said at the press-conference, after being so lucky she decided that she should not miss the given chance! Indeed, the player from India was radiating with concentration and fighting mood in both games. In the first she managed to create a decisive attack. In the second, when she needed only a draw to advance, Harika was so careful that instead of playing for a win in a great position, she preferred the drawn endgame, just to be sure for the outcome.
After the game Harika Dronavalli did not hide her happiness to advance to the semifinal for the first time in her life. As at the ceremony of movie awards, she thanked all her friends who support her, parents, coach and of course her grandmother who is in Khanty-Mansiysk with her. “Everybody finds it funny that I took my grandmother with me here, but in fact she helps me very much with the domestic things. I am used to home food, and it is difficult to stay without it at the long tournament. Here I don’t have this problem because my grandmother takes care of it,” – said Harika.
Harika’s secret of success
The longest encounter of the round was the Chinese derby Ju Wenjun – Huang Qian. Ju wenjun was considered to be a favorite before the match, probably because of her higher rating. But one should not forget, that until this moment she played every day from the first signal that announced the start of the event. To get to the quarterfinal tie-breaks Ju Wenjun played 18 games! In such circumstances, when the tiredness is accumulating, it is not easy to say she was a clear favorite.
Sometimes it seemed that Huang Qian sat with the doomed face, although she did not have real grounds for it during the tie-break
Indeed, the fight between the Chinese was very tense. Almost in all the games Ju Wenjun was pressing her opponent but could not decide it in her favor, the advantage always slipped away. As it is, it went this way till the second 10-minute game. But in this one the roles changed – Huang Qian had a very promising position, her pieces were walking at the opponent’s side like in her own garden. White took an exchange but underestimated the consequences of Black’s counterplay which was very strong. Huang Qian needed to be more accurate at that moment of the game, but the fact stays the fact – the great advantage was lost, Ju Wenjun gained the initiative and converted it into win.
Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar