Grandmaster D Harika got an easy draw as black against Lela Javakhishvili of Georgia in the first game of the third round of World Women’s Chess Championship in Khanty Mansiysk.

Harika, the last Indian in the fray, got good results as in the return game she will have the advantage of playing with white pieces, considered a slightly favourable colour in the game.

Following the ouster of defending champion Yifan Hou of China, second seed Koneru Humpy and third seed Anna Muzychuk of Slovenia in the second itself, the championship is thrown wide open and Zhao Xue of China has emerged as the rating favourite.

If the shocking loss by Humpy was not enough in the second round, Yifan Hou went down 0-2 against Monika Socko of Poland while Muzychuk also lost by a similar margin in the rapid tiebreaker. Humpy had lost 0-2 against Natalia Zhukova of Ukraine under normal games itself.

The lone Indian hope, Harika, has been showing good results and the first game against Javakhishvili was another indication of that. Playing the King’s Indian defence, Harika faced the Classical set up and kept herself in the reckoning with some timely counter play on the king side while white made progress on the other flank.

The middle game appeared favourable for white at one point when Harika decided to trade some pieces to ease the pressure and the tactic worked. Getting some new threats which were only optically damaging, Harika proposed a draw after making her 31st move and Javakhishvili agreed.

In other games to finish early in the day, Zhao Xue played out a draw with Mariya Muxychuk of Ukraine while Antoaneta Stefanova outplayed Socko to take an early lead.

The USD 450000 championship that started with 64 players is now reduced to last 16 and Harika is trying to break in to the quarterfinals. Till the finals there are two games in each round and in case of a tied score, games of shorter duration will be played to determine the winner.

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