Harika Dronavalli’s gutsy, determined run in the 2017 Women’s World Chess Championship in Tehran came to a heart-breaking halt as she lost to China’s Tan Zhongyi in the Armageddon tie-break to bow out of the tournament. Harika, who was aiming to become the first women’s world champion from India, will now settle for bronze for the third straight time after finishing in the same position in the 2012 and 2015 World championships.
What made it even more devastating for Harika was the fact that Tan was declared “won on time” in the Armageddon tie-break. According to the rules of the Armageddon, the player equipped with white has five minutes to make the move while black has four minutes. In this special tie-break, the player with white has to win in order to progress while black only has to draw to advance. In the Armageddon, Harika was playing with white pieces.
India should be very proud of the valiant effort by @HarikaDronavali She fought with so much heart and determination! @davidllada @WOMChess pic.twitter.com/8wtS1oADtu— Susan Polgar (@SusanPolgar) February 25, 2017
After 99 marathon moves, Harika ran out of time and Tan advanced to the final where she will meet Ukrainian Anna Muzychuk in the four-game final which begins on February 27.
Epic battles with Tan Zhangyi
If there has been one contest that has lit up the women’s world chess championship, it has been the semi-final between Harika and Tan. It started right from the classical games, with Tan notching up an important win in the first game with white pieces. Facing a must-win game in the second match, Harika played aggressively with white and pushed for a win. However, the Chinese player’s superior defence skills pushed the game into overtime.
Painful exit!Will keep haunting for time to come & letting you all down.Failed to change the colour,its the third ?in a row at the #WWCC2017— Harika Dronavalli (@HarikaDronavali) February 25, 2017
Although Harika had the advantage of an extra pawn, Tan’s stubborn resistance provoked a few errors. The Indian grandmaster had missed a checkmate move and mistakenly chose to exchange the queen piece. After 117 moves, while Tan only had the King, Harika had the Bishop, Knight and King and she only had 50 moves to corner her opponent’s King. After a gruelling 162 moves and with only five moves away from elimination, Harika cornered the queen to win the game and stay alive.
Heading into the tie-break, there were two 25-minute rapid games, followed by two 10-minute rapid games and two blitz games. Harika started well by registering a 17-move win in the first rapid game but Tan levelled the score in style by winning the second game in 73 moves. In the second 10-minute rapid game, Tan started well by surging ahead but Harika continued to fight as she levelled the game in style by winning in 79 moves.
Heartbroken &exhausted!While experiencing the roller coaster ride;your tweets kept me going.Thank you for all the encouragement and guidance https://t.co/q0Pqn00Eve— Harika Dronavalli (@HarikaDronavali) February 25, 2017
With the scoreline tied 4-4, the match went into the Armageddon tie-break. This was Tan’s second Armageddon encounter in the World Chess championship, having also “won on time” against Anna Ushenina in the second round after she had drawn the tie-breaks.
Although Harika will secure the bronze medal, her grit and determination in the 2017 Women’s World Chess championship has been praised by everybody in the chess world. With this experience, she will be determined to change the colour of the medal in the next Women’s World championships.