Hou Yifan and Harika Dronavalli set up an eagerly anticipated final match in the Julius Baer Women’s Speed Chess Championship 2023.
GM Hou Yifan defeated GM Alexandra Kosteniuk 12.5-9.5 in the hotly contested 22-game semifinal match, which saw just three draws. Kosteniuk led by one point at the end of each of the first two segments, but in the bullet games, the women's world number-one took over and won nearly every single one.
Hou takes home $6,000 for winning the match plus $3,409.10 by win percentage. Kosteniuk exits the tournament earning $2,590.90 by win percentage.
After her amazing performance in the bullet segment, Hou quipped in the interview: "Am I playing sharp!?"
GM Harika Dronavalli bested GM Kateryna Lagno in the second semifinal by a score of 12-10.
It was a fairly even match in the first two segments, though Harika led by one or two points throughout. The turning point was the last 3+1 game, which the Indian GM won, and she carried that momentum through the bullet segment.
Two years ago, in the 2021 Semifinals, Harika defeated Lagno 14-13 and needed tiebreaks to do so. This year, Harika outplayed Lagno in each segment. Even in the first two portions, there were some points left on the table that could have extended the lead further.
The Indian GM earns $6,000 for winning the match plus $3,272.73 by win percentage. Lagno finishes in the semifinals with $2,727.27 by win percentage.
Hou Yifan played Harika in WSCC final before. In 2021, she beat her to win the title. The 2023 final is bound to be an exciting match considering the recent history.
Asked about playing the final against Hou, Harika said: "Actually, I didn't even still process that I finished this and I'm going to Finals... I'll try to relax a bit and try to focus on the game as much as I can and play some quality games if possible." She finished with: "It's just a new day and I'll fight."
The final will take place on Wednesday, November 22 starting at 7:00 a.m. ET / 13:00 CET / 5:30
Text and photos: chess.com
Official website: chess.com/events/info/2023-womens-speed-chess-championship