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India's Harika finishes runner-up in Women's Speed Chess C'ship

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Mumbai, July 3 (IANS) An untimely and unfortunate internet outage halted a brilliant run by India’s Dronavalli Harika as she lost to Chinese legend Hou Yifan in the final of the Womens Speed Chess Championship on Saturday.

In this online tournament in which contestants play three rounds of games with decreasing time-limit, Harika led 4-2 in the seventh game when she lost internet connectivity that cost her three minutes of the total five allotted in that segment. Down to less than one minute thirty seconds, the 30-year-old from Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh, fought bravely but made mistakes under pressure and eventually lost that game.

Each match in this tournament comprises three segments. Each player gets five minutes in the first segment, with one second added to the clock after each move, to complete the game. In the second round, the players get three minutes to complete the game with one second added to the clock for each move and in the final segment of bullet chess games, they get one minute each on the clock with one second of increment after each move.

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After losing that rapid chess game, Harika managed to draw the next and eventually finished the round leading 5.5-3.5.

Hou, who has dominated women’s chess for more than a decade now, came back strongly in the next segment, winning three successive games to wrest the initiative.

Harika, who had stunned Kateryna Lagno of France, the best speed chess player in the world, in the semi-finals, put up a valiant fight in the remaining games.

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She managed to tie the score at 11-11 going at one time in the last segment. However, Hou proved too strong and emerged winner with 15 points as against 13 for the Indian.

Though the unfortunate internet outage impacted her bold bid to win the title against a superior player, Harika did not blame technology for her defeat.

“The internet connection disrupted (suddenly). It has never happened to me earlier. But I will not blame it for the final result. I am not upset with my performance as my opponent was much stronger. I tried my best,” Harika told the official broadcaster after the final.

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The Indian Grandmaster was happy with her overall performance as it was a confidence boost ahead of the Women’s World Cup starting in Sochi, Russia from July 10.

–IANS

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