Thanks to her win in game 6, Hou Yifan needs just three draws in the remaining four games to retain her title. It could have been different today, as Humpy Koneru found a promising pawn sac against the Ragozin. In return she had two very strong bishops, and soon she regained the pawn while maintaining her other advantages. Unfortunately for her, she couldn't figure out what to do with her bishops once she regained the pawn, and soon her pleasant edge transformed into a lost position. Over the next dozen or so moves Koneru completely lost the thread, moving her bishops back and forth without accomplishing anything, while Hou made serious progress by posting her bishop on the terrific c6 square and seizing control over the e-file with her rooks. Soon Hou regained her extra pawn, and then, in a position that was already pretty bad, White uncorked back-to-back blunders with 36.Bc3?? Ne4 (36...Ng4! was more accurate) 37.Rge1??, giving Hou a choice between two forced mates. She chose the faster one, starting with 37...Ng3+, and after 38.hxg3 Rh5+ White resigned in view of 39.Kg1 Rxg2+ 40.Kf1 Rh1#.
It was good defense by the champion, but a surprisingly bad middlegame by Koneru, who just drifted away despite her excellent novelty and a big lead on the clock. Can she recover, or will this be the third match she loses to her Chinese rival in a world championship competition?*
Event site here.
* Hou defeated Koneru in the semi-finals of the knockout championship events in 2008 and 2010.