Indian Grandmasters Koneru Humpy and D Harika inched closer to the quarterfinals stage of the world women chess championship, defeating Russian aces Alisa Galliamova and Alexandra Kosteniuk in their respective first game of the third round here.
On what turned out to be her fifth victory in as many games, top seeded Humpy remained on course for her maiden world title and her form remained excellent in to the fifth game too.
Harika on the other hand, had to survive some difficult moments in the opening but stayed in her best fighting spirit to get the better of Kosteniuk, a former world champion.
The Russian challenge in fact suffered a near-decisive setback in the championship despite having four players in the last-16 stage.
The other two Russian ladies, Valetina Gunina and Natalija Pogonina also suffered defeats and now stare at a must-win return game in this two-game mini-match. Gunina was outdone by experienced Pia Cramling of Sweden while Pogonina found her nemesis in Marie Sebag of France.
Also taking the lead with one game to go in the third round were Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine who accounted for former champion Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria and Zhao Xue of China who had it easy against Bela Khotenashvili of Georgia.
For Humpy, this is turning out to be one of the best campaigns ever in a world championship. Maintaining an-all win record, Humpy outwitted Galliamova from the white side of a Slav defense game.
“The game was quite interesting from the opening itself.
I did not expect her to play this kind of position. At one point it was not easy for white to continue to play. I had to be very accurate then," said Humpy after the game.