Grandmaster Alexandra Kosteniuk played out a draw with Yifan Hoa of China in the second game of the finals but still led by a point in the World Women's Chess Championship in Nalchik (Russia) on Monday.
The four-game final remained in Alexandra's favour after she came up with another fine performance in the second match and now the Russian star, who has also worked in a film and is considered the glam-girl of chess, is just a couple of draws away from the world championship title.
The Russian has 1.5 points compared to 0.5 by the Chinese.
It seems experience is getting the better of talent.
Alexandra had already been in the final of the Women's World Championship in 2000 while Yifan, just 14, is eyeing the title at a very tender age.
Playing with white pieces for the first time in the final, Alexandra started with the king pawn and faced the French defense that is the favourite weapon of top Chinese players on Monday.
Alexandra went for the Tarrasch variation that has a reputation for being slow but yields a stable position for white. Having won the first game as black obviously gave Alexandra the added advantage of playing safely.
It was in the middle game that Yifan went for unwarranted complications. Leaving a pawn for the taking, the Chinese in fact made a mistake but it was another matter that Alexandra's technique in the endgame was pretty sluggish.
Rooks and pawns endgames are always complicated and it was another day attesting to this fact. Alexandra won a handful of pawns three in all but the win was not forth coming thanks to a better placed black king and rook, assisting the march of black's lone central passed pawn.
Even as she tried hard, Alexandra could not find a suitable way to counter the advance of the pawn. The end result a draw for Yifan was quite satisfying after she had ventured into unnecessary complications that were not needed for an equal position. The Chinese plays her last white in the match in the third game on Tuesday.