Grandmaster Koneru Humpy suffered a shock 2-0 defeat against Marie Sebag of France and bowed out of the World Women's Chess championship after a tie-breaker in the second round, in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
It turned out to be an unexpected ouster for the highest rated player in the event, who was seen as a probable finalist this year after a sterling performance in the last championship, when she had reached the semifinals.
Meanwhile, International Master, and the lone Indian left in the draw, S Vijayalakshmi played out a quick draw with Svetlana Matveeva of Russia in the first game of the pre-quarter-finals.
After winning the second round against odds in a tie-breaker, Vijayalakshmi was visibly tired in this first of the two games mini-match and did not try hard with white pieces after employing the Reti Opening.
Matveeva, an International Master herself, who employed the age-old London system against white's safe opening set-up, pondered only for a short while before agreeing to draw after only 17 moves
Earlier, Vijayalakshmi kept the Indian flag flying with a brilliant comeback victory against Lela Javakashvili of Georgia to enter the pre-quarter-finals of the US $450,000 competition.
Having lost the first game, Vijayalakshmi came back with a brilliantly crafted victory in the return game and went on to win both the tiebreak games under rapid chess rules to make it to the last 16.
Humpy was not the lone seed to tumble as the unpredictability of the knockout system yet again came to the fore.
Defending champion Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria and third seed Grandmaster Pia Cramling of Sweden were also shown the exit door.
While Stefanova failed to match the wits of Polish talent Iweta Radjiewicz and lost the tiebreak games, seasoned Chinese-turned-Dutch Peng Zhaoqin proved a tough nut for Cramling in the regulation games itself.
It was the return game of the tiebreaker that will haunt Humpy for a long time.
After initially struggling to secure an advantage with black pieces, Humpy finally got a fine attack against white king in the middle game and transposed to what should have been an easy win in the endgame. However, Sebag hung in there defending until the Indian crumbled and found herself in a theoretically drawn position.
The scoreline in the end read 2-0 in tiebreak games in favour of the French girl but Humpy could have easily drawn in the final position of the game.
Complete results round 2 (final result in the end): Iweta Radziewicz (Pol) beat Antoaneta Stefanova (Bul) 1-1, 2-0; Koneru Humpy (Ind) lost to Marie Sebag (Fra) 1-1, 0-2; Peng Zhaoqin (Ned) beat Pia Cramling (Swe) 1.5-0.5; Alexandra Kosteniuk (Rus) beat Elina Danielian (Arm) 2-0; Arakhamia Grant Ketevan (Geo) lost to Maia Chiburdanidze (Geo) 0.5-1.5; Xu Yuhua (Chn) beat Anna Ushenina (Ukr) 1.5-0.5; Svetlana Matveeva (Rus) beat Karen Zapata (Per) 1.5-0.5; Arribas Maritza (Cub) lost to Nino Khurtsidze (Geo) 0.5-1.5; Natalia Zhukova (Ukr) lost to Hou Yifan (Chn) 0-2; S Vijayalakshmi (Ind) beat Lela Javakhishvili (Geo) 1-1, 2-0; Irina Krush (USA) lost to Tatiana Kosintseva (Rus) 0.5-1.5; Ju Wenjun (Chn) beat Nana Dzagnidze (Geo) 1-1, 1.5-0.5; Ruan Lufei (Chn) lost to Viktorija Cmilyte (Ltu) 1-1, 1-1, 0-2; Maria Kursova (Rus) lost to Ekaterina Kovalevskaya (Rus) 0.5-1.5; Jovanka Houska (Eng) lost to Qin Kanying (Chn) 1-1, 1.5-0.5; Alisa Galliamova (Rus) beat Lujan Carolina (Arg) 1-1, 2-0.