Playing white pieces, Dronavalli -- with FIDE Elo rating 2492 and ranked 16th in the world -- opened the game by putting her knight at f3 square. The Ukraine opted for Dutch defence and pushed her 'f' pawn two squares forward. "In the Dutch defence, Muzychuk has chosen a sideline variation and not the mainline," WGM Vijayalakshmi Subbaraman told IANS. According to Subbaraman, both the players have contrasting styles.
"While Mariya is more open and aggressive, as could be seen from the choice of defence, Harika is a positional player," Subbaraman said.
"To win in the knockout format, players need to play smart and steady chess. Gambling may yield short-term dividends but will not work overall," Susan Polgar, a four-time women's world chess champion, told IANS.
"Harika has played steady chess so far and that is why she is still in it. In this game, she is playing solidly for results. I like her choice of opening. She is controlling the pace of this game. If her opponent does not play accurately, she (Harika) will take advantage of that," Polgar added. On the 7th move, both took their kings to safety by castling.
Both players also fianchettoed all their bishops. However, Dronavalli started lagging on time unlike on Sunday when she had the time advantage during the first half of the game. Soon Mariya started pushing her queen-side pawns thereby opening up the space.
On the 30th move, the Ukrainian went for exchange of queens and seven moves later the players traded one of their rooks.
At this position, each player had a rook. Dronavalli had four connected pawns to Muzychuk's three. "Though Harika had a slender advantage throughout the game, it was not enough to win," Subbaraman said. The semi-final contests consist of two games. If the score after two games remains equal, the match is continued in the tie-break.