Indian Grandmaster Koneru Humpy rose to the occasion defeating Yifan Hao of China in the return game and forced the mini-match in to a tie-breaker in the ongoing World Women's Chess Championship in Nalchik (Russia).
Humpy, who lost the first game as black, won the second game of the two-game mini-match and will now have to play the tie-break games on Friday.
The highest rated woman player after Judit Polgar of Hungary played imaginatively to beat Yifan, a 14-year-old sensation, who has been training hard and playing well against high opposition for past couple of years.
Meanwhile, in the other semifinal of the day Russian Alexandra Kosteniuk made sure she did not make mistakes in her quest for a berth in the finals and held Pia Cramling of Sweden to a draw to win the match by a 1.5-0.5 margin. In the first game of this semifinal, Kosteniuk had won with white pieces.
Humpy rose back in style to draw level in the second game. Starting with a knight manoeuvre on the first move, the Andhra girl transposed to a position akin to the Accelerated Sicilian Dragon and Yifan was in troubles early looking out for best ways to counter the opening.
While Yifan spent a lot of time in the opening, Humpy saved it for the crucial middle game stage where she had to find some tricky manoeuvre to avoid an equal position. As a result, both players fell in acute time pressure and the nerves played a crucial role.
Yifan could have defended better but the clock was ticking away and it was on the 32nd move that the Chinese blundered decisively and allowed Humpy to get a crushing attack on her king. The game ended just four moves later giving Humpy a chance to remain in the match and now in the tie-break the Indian will be a big favourite to win the match.
In the tie-breaker the players will first play a two-game rapid match and if the scores are tied there will be two more games under blitz chess rules. If still tied the match will go in the sudden-death stage where white will get a minute extra on the clock with no increment and will have to win in order to qualify to the next stage.
Kosteniuk did many things right in order to gain a draw against Cramling. Her opening choice of Queen's gambit accepted proved correct, the concentration along the central squares was excellent and when the opportunity arose, the calculation was perfect.
Cramling on her part tried hard but Kosteniuk, despite being lower on rating, was simply the better player in this match. The game was eventual drawn vide perpetual checks. If Cramling had tried to avoid that the scoreline would have read 2-0 instead of 1.5-0.5.
For the record this will be Kosteniuk's second appearance in the final of the World Women's Championship. The last time she went to the finals was in 2000 at Moscow, where Zhu Chen of China had beaten her comprehensively to win the crown.