Humpy wins Istanbul Grand Prix

Koneru Humpy won the first edition of the IS Bank Ataturk Women Grand Prix chess tournament defeating Marie Sebag of France in a nail-biting finale.

updated: March 20, 2009 15:51 IST
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Luck and form combined as Indian Grandmaster Koneru Humpy won her final round match and saw other title aspirants dropping down to facilitate her triumph in the first edition of IS Bank Ataturk Women Grand Prix chess tournament here.

Humpy and the Chinese duo of Zhao Xue and Yifan Hao shared the lead going into the all-important final round. Of the trio, only Humpy managed to win her match against Marie Sebag of France, while Zhao bowed to Elina Danielian of Armenia and Hao was held to a draw by compatriot Shen Yang.

Humpy finished the tournament with a commendable 8.5 points out of a possible 11.

The victory gives Humpy a head-start in the newly constructed Grand Prix series which is also a part of the next world championship cycle. Apart from the title the Indian went home richer by Euro 6400.

Elina finished second on a better tie-break than Yifan on eight points while Zhao, who enjoyed a full point lead coming in to last two rounds, had to be content with fourth place on 7.5 points.

Humpy knew that only a win would keep her title hopes alive and the task was not easy with black pieces against Sebag who looked in great form in the last few games.

It was a Closed Ruy Lopez and Humpy went for routine play on the queen side only to find her pawn structure a bit weak.

Working her counterplay on the king side, Humpy exchanged white's defenders and the game seemed excitingly poised when disaster struck Sebag and she lost track of her position.

As a result, Humpy entered the seventh rank with her queen and that decisive as Sebag's position fell apart. Humpy won a rook for knight first and then rolled her central pawn to force matters. The game lasted 47 moves.

Zhao Xue's aspirations suffered a setback as she was gradually outplayed by Elina who played white. The queen pawn opening gave Elina only a minimal advantage but she nurtured it well to launch an attack on the king side. Zhao missed a simple tactical trick that cost her two pawns and the resulting endgame gave her no chances. It was all over in just 38 moves.

The biggest surprise of the day was Yifan's draw with Shen Yang who finished on a mere 2.5 points in the event.

Playing black, Yifan went for a well analysed variation in the Nimzo Indian defence and found Shen Yang adequately prepared.

The middle game featured regulation exchanges and Shen Yang maintained the balance to eventually reach a rook and opposite coloured Bishops endgame which was a forced draw. The peace was signed in 58 moves.

In other games of the final round, Maia Chiburdanidze of Georgia went down to Martha Baquero Fierro of Ecuador, Zeinab Mamedjarova of Azerbaijan played out a draw with Betul Cemre Yildiz of Turkey while Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria was tamed by Pia Cramling of Sweden.

Results Final Round: Marie Sebag (Fra, 6) lost to Koneru Humpy (Ind, 8.5); Shen Yang (Chn, 2.5) drew with Yifan Hao (Chn, 8); Elina Danielian (Arm, 8) beat Zhao Xue (Chn, 7.5); Antoaneta Stefanova (Bul, 5) lost to Pia Cramling (Swe, 5.5); Maia Chiburdanidze (Geo, 5) lost to Martha Bauero Fierro (Ecu, 5.5); Zeinab Mamedjarova (Aze, 2.5) drew with Betul Cemre Yildiz (Tur, 2).

Final standings: 1. Humpy 8.5; 2-3. Elina, Yifan 8 each; 4. Zhao 7.5; 5.Marie 6. 6-7. Martha, Pia 5.5 each; 8-9. Antoaneta, Maia 5 each; 10-11.Zeinab, Shen Yang 2.5 each; 12. Betul 2.