Grandmaster Koneru Humpy took an early lead against Ju Wenjun of China while GM norm holder D Harika played out a draw with another Chinese, Ruan Lufei, in the first game of the quarter-finals of the World Women's Chess Championship in Hatay, Turkey.
With another victory in the first game itself, Humpy now needs just a draw in the return game to make it to the last four stage that has been her performance till date in a World Championship.
If she wins her match, Humpy is likely to meet Yifan Hao of China, who had ousted her in the last World Championship.
It could be an all-Indian affair if Harika continues with her impressive form, as both of them are in different groups and can meet only in the final.
In other quarter-final games, Yifan Hao defeated Kateryna Lahno of Ukraine while Almira Skripchenko of France played out a draw with Zhao Xue of China.
A just indication of Asian presence in women's chess is that there are three Chinese and two Indians left amongst the last eight participants in this $ 450,000 prize-money championship.
Humpy got a positional plus with her white pieces in a queens pawn game. Playing correctly in the middle game thereafter, she knocked down one pawn and seemed like cruising home till Ju Wenjun created some counter play on the king's side and provoked a mistake from the Indian.
After reaching a comfortable position, luck deserted the Chinese again as she blundered a couple of pawns and her position was beyond repairs.
Harika also played white but could not use it more favourably. Playing the Queen pawn the former World Junior girls' champion obtained a slightly better position with some finely crafted manoeuvres but Ruan was equally up to the task in finding the best resources.
As it happened in the game subsequent exchanges led to a balanced endgame wherein Harika had the Bishop pair but there were very few pawns left to cause any real damage. The draw was a just result.
Zhao Xue lost a pawn against Almira but it was not enough for the French player to convert into a full point while Kateryna Lahno's overambitious play cost her a full point against Yifan Hao.
Kateryna had a little advantage with an extra pawn but Yifan had counter-play. Instead of making accurate draw, the Ukrainian strove for more and was duly punished.
Results Game 1 quarter-finals: Koneru Humpy (Ind) beat Ju Wenjun (Chn); Yifan Hao (Chn) beat Kateryna Lahno (Ukr); Zhao Xue (Chn) drew with Almira Skripchenko (Fra); D Harika (Ind) drew with Ruan Lufei (Chn).