Koneru Humpy hits back to draw even

ELISTA, JUNE 1. Koneru Humpy struck when needed and forced Ekaterina Kovalevskaya to resign in 51 moves to level her two-game semifinal match in the women's world chess championship here on Tuesday.

The other semifinal saw Bulgaria's Antoaneta Stefanova, seeded seven, shatter Maia Chiburdanidze's dreams of regaining the title after a gap of 13 years. After their opening encounter ended in a draw on Monday, Stefanova produced a fine example of aggressive chess with black pieces and stopped the veteran in 56 moves.

After losing the opener, only a victory with white pieces could have kept alive Humpy's challenge and she raised her game to meet the challenge. The players now meet in the 25-minute each rapid games.

Humpy enjoyed early space advantage in the game that followed the Gruenfeld variation of Bogo Indian Defence. After the early exchange of queens, Humpy won a central pawn on the 21st move and another on the 28th to gained a decisive hold over the match.

With Humpy's two queen-side passed pawns set to make all the difference, the top seed gave up a central pawn to promote her pawns. Kovlevskaya realised the futility of continuing and resigned after 51 moves.

The other board also saw an example of how couple of connected passed pawns can make a huge difference to the fortunes of those involved. Stefanova was clearly in control of this English Opening game and exploited Chiburdanidze's weak pawn-placements.

She gained pawns on the 22nd, 33rd and 41st move before giving a rook for a bishop and pawn on the 45th. This established three connected queenside passed pawns for Stefanova who had no trouble in forcing her rival's resignation after 55 moves.

Semifinals results (game two): 1-Koneru Humpy (Ind) 1 bt 12-Ekaterina Kovlevskaya (Rus) 1; 3-Maia Chiburdanidze (Geo) 0.5 lost to 7-Antoaneta Stefanova (Bul) 1.5. — Our Special Correspondent