Three matches to be decided on tie-breaks.
The second games of the third round of the Women’s World Championship were played at the Ugra Chess Academy on Sunday, November 18th. This was one of the most thrilling days of the tournament, full of decisive games.

The ex-World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria), who won the first game against Monika Socko (Poland), selected a very sharp opening line. Stefanova did not try to play for a draw, but went for a full-scale offensive instead. She sacrificed a pawn, then delivered a nice tactical blow, and won an exchange and soon the game, thus advancing to the Quarterfinal with the perfect score 2-0.

Zhao Xue (China) defeated Maria Muzychuk (Ukraine) in 27 moves. The Ukrainian made a mistake in the opening, giving her opponent a very favorable position with a firm advantage and no risk. White seized space and carried out a swift attack. Zhao Xue won the match 1.5-0.5 and moved up.

Harika Dronavalli (India) outplayed Lela Javakhishvili (Georgia) in the opening and won a pawn. Material advantage decided the outcome of both the game and the match – Harika won and advanced to the Quarterfinal.

Natalia Pogonina (Russia) needed to beat Anna Ushenina (Ukraine) to equalize the match score. Pogonina played aggressively, but the Ukrainian defended very calmly, parried all the threats and eventually gained a positional advantage. Pogonina help the game, but lost the match 0.5-1.5 and was eliminated.

Alisa Galliamova (Russia) was in the same situation, as she needed to defeat Marie Sebag (France) to tie the match score. The Russian played actively, outplayed her opponent in the maneuvering game and won a pawn. However, she made a mistake in the time trouble, and Sebag was able to activate her pieces and threaten the perpetual. In order to avoid the losing draw, Galliamova had to send her king to the other side of the board, but Sebag developed a mating attack, winning the match 2-0.

Kosintseva sisters (both Russia) made a draw on the 48th move. Most pieces were traded early, and the game proceeded to a rook ending. The winner of this match will be determined tomorrow on a tie-break.

Irina Krush (USA) and Huang Qian (China) will also return to the venue tomorrow. The Chinese, who lost the first game, played very energetically today, and converted her extra pawn in a complex ending.

The longest game of today was played between Natalia Zhukova (Ukraine) and Ju Wenjun (China). Zhukova needed to win, and she selected a very sharp opening line, which brought her a large advantage. However, she nearly spoiled a sure win, when instead of delivering a fine tactical blow she decided to win a rook. Black seized the initiative, and Zhukova had to return almost all her extra material to defend. The game proceeded to an endgame with rook + a-pawn for White and two minor pieces for Black. White gave up her rook, but promoted the a-pawn. Ju Wenjun tried to build a fortress in the center of the board, but Zhukova broke through it and created irresistible threats. So the strong-willed Ukrainian tied the match score, and the players proceeded to the quickplay finish tomorrow.

The third round results:
М. Socko (Poland) – А. Stefanova (Bulgaria) 0-2
Ju Wenjun (China) – N. Zhukova (Ukraine) 1-1
А. Ushenina (Ukraine) – N. Pogonina (Russia) 1.5-0.5
М. Muzychuk (Ukraine) – Zhao Xue (China) 0.5-1.5
L. Javakhishvili (Georgia) – HDronavalli (India) 0.5-1.5
T. Kosintseva (Russia) – N. Kosintseva (Russia) 1-1
Huang Qian (China) – I. Krush (USA) 1-1
А. Galliamova (Russia) – М. Sebag (France) 0-2

The tie-break is played tomorrow, November 19th:

Ju Wenjun (China) – N. Zhukova (Ukraine)
T. Kosintseva (Russia) – N. Kosintseva (Russia)
Huang Qian (China) – I. Krush (USA)