Grandmaster Koneru Humpy, the highest rated player in the fray, crashed out of the World Women's Chess Championship after failing to capitalize on her chances against Natalia Zhukova of Ukraine in the second game of the second round that concluded in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia, on Thursday.
After losing the first game of the two-game mini-match, the Indian faced the daunting task of winning with black in the return game and when the chance came to turn the battle in her favour, Humpy stumbled and went on to lose her second game in a row against Zhukova.
D Harika, the other Indian left in the event, however, kept herself in contention with some smart work against Elina Danielian of Armenia that saw her through to the pre-quarter-final stage of the knock-out championship.
Sitting with the cushion of a full point lead, having won the first game, Harika played solidly and took a draw in a better position which was enough to secure her entry to the next round.
In the shocker of the day, experienced Monika Socko of Poland defeated defending champion Yifan Hou of China to level scores.
Not many had given any chances to Socko to score a comeback victory but a temporary loss in concentration from a level position meant that Yifan will now have to fight it out in the tie-break games of the second round.
Humpy was the only one to lose by a 0-2 margin. The reason for that was simply because the Indian wanted to win at any cost.
It was a King's Indian vide transposition and though the position looked optically favourably for Zhukova in the middle game it was not easy to find plans.
Sensing that quickly enough, the Ukrainian came with a sacrifice for two pieces for a rook that again looked optically promising but favouring black and Humpy looked on top and set for a comeback.
However, as the game progressed, Humpy miscalculated and misjudged almost everything. Her 29th move was a blunder, letting Zhukova back in the game, and subsequent manoeuvres left white slightly better in the complicated endgame. The final blunder by Humpy came on the 39th move and Zhukova won four moves later.
Results (Round 2): Yifan Hou lost to Monika Socko (Pol) 1-1 goes to break: Natalia Zhukova (Ukr) beat Koneru Humpy (Ind) 2-0; Anna Ushenina (Ukr) drew with Anna Muzychuk (Slo) 1-1 goes to break; Nino Khurtsidze (Geo) beat Zhao Xue (Chn) 1-1 goes to break; Lela Javakhishvili (Geo) beat Kateryna Lahno (Ukr) 1.5-0.5; Nadezhda Kosintseva (Rus) drew with Lilit Mkrtchian (Arm) 1-1 goes to break; Viktorija Cmilyte (Ltu) lost to Huang Qian (Chn) 0.5-1.5; Olga Girya lost to Marie Sebag (Fra) 0.5-1.5; Valentina Gunina (Rus) lost to Alisa Galliamova (Rus) 0.5-1.5; Irina Krush (Usa) beat Pia Cramling (Swe) 1-1 goes to tiebreak; Hoang Thanh Trang (Hun) lost to Tatiana Kosintseva ( Rus) 0.5-1.5; D Harika (Ind) drew with Elina Danielian (Arm) 1.5-0.5; Mariya Muzychuk (Ukr) drew with Maritza Arribas Robaina (Cub) 1.5-0.5; Alexandra Kosteniuk (Rus) lost to Natalija Pogonina (Rus) 0.5-1.5; Anna Zatonskih (Usa) drew with Ju Wenjun (Chn) 1-1 goes to tiebreak; Zhu Chen (Chn) lost to Antoaneta Stefanova (Bul) 0.5-1.5.