India’s Dronavalli Harika got the better of former world champion Alexandra Kosteniuk in the third round while Koneru Humpy drew with reigning world champion Ju Wenjun of China at the Cairns Cup in St Louis. They are the only Indians in the 10-player tournament.

Harika who is unbeaten after three rounds, is joint second with two points along with former world champ Mariya Muzychuk (Ukraine) and Katernya Lagno (Russia). Humpy, who drew in 22 moves, took her tally to 1.5 points.

Georgia’s Nana Dzagnidze beat American player Carissa Yip in 55 moves with white pieces, overcoming a stubborn challenge from the youngster. She leads the field with 2.5 points after three rounds. Defending champion Valentina Gunina defeated Irina Krush to earn her first win of the tournament.

Harika, ranked ninth in the latest FIDE rankings, after draws in the first two rounds, played black against Kosteniuk in a Spanish opening game and took advantage in the middle when the Russian made a few errors. She won in 57 moves.

Current world rapid champion Humpy, on the other hand, smarting from a loss to Muzychuk in round two, played it safe against her Chinese opponent and they signed the peace treaty in 22 moves.

In the fourth round, Harika faces American Irina Krush while Humpy, the world number three takes on Lagno.

Results: Round 3:

Nana Dzagnidze (2.5) beat Carissa Yip (0), Koneru Humpy (1.5) drew Ju Wenjun (1.5), Dronavalli Harika (2) beat Alexandra Kosteniuk (1.5), Valentina Gunia (1) beat Irina Krush (1), Katernya Lagno (2) drew with Mariya Muzychuk (2).

With PTI Inputs