International Master D Harika lived up to her top billing by annexing the World Junior Girls Championship with a round to spare. She beat Narmin Kazimova of Azerbaijan in the 12th and penultimate round to make sure of the title.
Harika took her tally to an unassailable 10 points out of a possible 12 and steered a full point clear of Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine, who was held to a draw by Anastasia Bodnaruk of Russia on Wednesday.
With her better progressive score, Harika is assured of the title with one round still to come in the premier junior event for girls.
Harika is the second Indian girl to become Junior World champion after Koneru Humpy in 2001.
Harika had won the 2006 World under-18 girls title and was unlucky to miss out of this title last year when she lost the last three rounds after being in the lead.
Harika had to hard work against Narmin Kazimova as the latter played cautiously for the major part of the game, which lasted 68 moves.
Starting off with English open as white, Harika grabbed a minimal advantage and later liquidated to a better rook and pawns endgame. Kazimova lost a pawn first and when it became a race between passed pawns, Harika's forces were more adequately deployed.
Meanwhile, Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta grinded overnight leader Arik Braun of Germany in the open section and jumped in to joint lead along with compatriot Parimarjan Negi and David Howell of England.
With all these three leaders on 9 points, it is clear that the winner will be amongst them only, which gives a chance for an Indian double in the championships organized simultaneously.
Important and Indian results (Indians unless specified):
World Juniors: Abhijeet Gupta (9) beat Arik Braun (Ger, 8.5); Maxim Rodshtein (Isr, 8) David Howell (Eng, 8); Parimarjan Negi (9) beat Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son (Vie, 8); Wesley So (Phi, 8) drew with Safarli Eltaj (Aze, 8.5); G N Gopal (7) drew with Can Emre (Tur, 7); Ashwin Jayaram (7.5) beat Bonelli Eduardo Pat Iyurrizaga (Ven, 6.5); P Karthikeyan (7.5) beat Markus Ragger (Aut, 6.5); Wen Yang (Chn, 7.5) beat Akshayraj Kore (6.5); Oleg Yaksin (Rus, 6.5) drew with S Arun Prasad (6.5); Deep Sengupta (6.5) drew with Lin Chen (Chn, 6.5); Vishnu Prasanna (5.5) lost to Pavel Potapov (Rus, 5.5); Berc Deruni (Tur, 4.5) lost to Sahaj Grover (5.5).
Girls: Dronavalli Harika (10) beat Narmin Kazimova (Aze, 7.5); Mariya Muzychuk (Ukr, 9) drew with Anastasia Bodnaruk (Rus, 7.5); Soumya Swaminathan (8) drew with Miranda Mikadze (Geo, 8.5); Nazi Paikidze (Geo, 8) beat Guliskhan Nakhbayeva (Kaz, 7.5); Hour Homa Alavi (Iri, 7) lost to Mary Ann Gomes (8); R Preethi (5.5) lost to Sanja Misovic (Mne, 6.5); Joanna Majdan (Pol, 6.5) drew with Kruttika Nadig (7); Padmini Rout (6) beat Akter Shamima (Ban, 5).