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    Entries in Humpy Koneru (10)

    Saturday
    Sep062014

    Hou Yifan Ties For First In Sharjah, Wins Grand Prix Series

    Hou Yifan and Ju Wenjun finished with identical scores of 8.5/11 in the Sharjah Women's Grand Prix, allowing the former to win the overall series ahead of Humpy Koneru. Humpy needed to finish this event tied or better with Hou, but had a disappointing tournament and finished three full points behind.

    This means that Hou Yifan will be in a world championship match in 2015, either as the champion (if she wins the women's knockout world championship this October, in which case Humpy Koneru will be the challenger thanks to her second place in the Grand Prix series) or as the challenger (in which case Humpy is out of luck, unless she happened to win the KO).

    As for the rating hunt, Hou finished at 2667.2, leaving her eight points behind Judit Polgar (once it's official and gets rounded down). Sharjah co-winner Ju Wenjun even managed to pass Humpy Koneru for third on the women's list, thanks to the enormous combined swing of 41 points.

    Thursday
    Aug282014

    Sharjah Update: Hou Yifan Defeats Humpy Koneru, Leads By 1.5 Points

    That is, Hou Yifan leads Humpy Koneru by a point and a half, not the rest of the field at the final Women's Grand Prix event of the 2013-2014 cycle. Hou's countrywoman Ju Wenjun is the current leader of the tournament in Sharjah with 3.5/4, half a point ahead of Hou and three other players. But none of that matters for the world championship cycle, as only Hou Yifan and Humpy Koneru can win the overall Grand Prix. As long as Hou finishes ahead of her rival she wins the Grand Prix, and with a point and a half lead with seven rounds to go she's in good shape.

    (For a more detailed background, see this post and the links therein.)

    Monday
    Aug252014

    Women's Grand Prix Finale Underway

    Whatever problems exist for the "men's" world championship, their cycle is at least reasonably clear and logical compared to the convolutions FIDE has generated for the women's world title. Sometimes the champion is determined by a knockout event, other times in a match between the defending titleholder and the winner of the Grand Prix cycle - or in case the champion is also the Grand Prix winner, the champ plays the Grand Prix runner-up.

    Right now Hou Yifan is the women's world champion and, with the retirement of Judit Polgar the top-rated woman in the world by a pretty hefty margin. But for how long? There's a knockout event allegedly going to take place in October, and while Hou has done well in most of the KO events she had a bad day in the last one and was eliminated early. (That event was eventually won by someone who couldn't mate with a bishop and a knight.)

    She (Hou) won the Grand Prix, however, and demolished the KO winner (Anna Ushenina) in a match, which brings us where we are today. The current Grand Prix cycle has one tournament left, in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. Humpy Koneru has a slight lead over Hou Yifan in the overall standings, but as long as Hou finishes a single place ahead of her rival in Sharjah she will leapfrog her into first place. (As Hou won her first game while Humpy lost hers, she's off to a good start.)

    So here's what all of this means. If the KO takes place and neither Hou Yifan nor Humpy Koneru wins, then the winner of the KO will play whichever of the two women wins the Grand Prix. If one of them does win the KO, then the other woman will face her in a match, regardless of which one wins the Grand Prix.

    Thursday
    Oct032013

    Humpy Koneru Wins Women's Grand Prix Event in Tashkent

    In part because I've spent a boatload of time working on a big post on the Keres-Botvinnik ending from 1948 - the one that some allege to be proof that Keres threw games to Botvinnik - I've fallen behind on the tournaments. So let's get that caught up and then get to the alleged fix.

    We begin with the Women's Grand Prix tournament in Tashkent, which finished a couple of days ago. Humpy Koneru led throughout and was the deserved winner, finishing with a draw to clinch first. The only player with a chance to catch her going into the last round was Harika Dronavalli, but she lost, allowing both Kateryna Lagno and Bela Khotenashvili to skip ahead of her and tie for second, a point behind Humpy. A pity for Harika, who for all or almost all of the tournament was headed by no one but Humpy. That's sport: one must fight all the way to the finish.

    This is the second Grand Prix event Humpy has won in this cycle; in fact, she has won both of the Grand Prix events she has entered! Pending a disaster in her remaining event(s), she is a pretty big favorite to win the cycle and clinch a title match in 2015.

    Monday
    Sep302013

    Women's Grand Prix: Koneru Leads By A Point Entering The Last Round

    Which means it's not over yet. Bela Khotenashvili drew with Kateryna Lagno, which meant that each put the other out of contention, as Humpy Koneru's win over tailender Guliskhan Nakhbayeva gave her a point and a half lead over that duo. One member of the tie for second did win, and that's Harika Dronavalli. She beat the next-to-last-place player, Nafisa Muminova, to stay within a point. In the last round Humpy will have Black against Olga Girya, and Harika will have Black against Zhao Xue (a tougher pairing, at least on paper).

    (Tournament site here.)

    Monday
    Nov212011

    Women's World Championship: Hou Yifan Leads 4-2

    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.

    Tuesday
    Nov152011

    Women's World Championship, Game 2: Another Draw

    And again, one where challenger Humpy Koneru had the better chances, despite playing Black. Or maybe because of it, thanks to a very interesting novelty. Hou Yifan played the 5.Nc3 line against the Petroff, and after 5...Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Be3 0-0 8.Qd2, Humpy uncorked the excellent 8...Qe8! After 9.0-0-0 Qa4 (the point!) Black's attacking possibilities at least as strong as White's, and just a few moves later the champion swapped queens and headed for a draw. There was some danger she wouldn't succeed, but after sweating it out to move 42 she saved her half point. 1-1.

    Match site here, the game (with my brief comments) here.

    Monday
    Nov142011

    Women's World Championship, Game 1: Humpy Koneru Presses But Doesn't Win

    World champion Hou Yifan had a very difficult time today against Humpy Koneru. With White, the challenger enjoyed a serious initiative for a long time in an Open Catalan, but couldn't quite push the champ over the edge. Only a draw, but it was still a psychologically promising start for the Indian grandmaster.

    Official site here, game (with my light notes) here.

    Monday
    Nov142011

    Hou Yifan vs. Humpy Koneru: The Women's World Championship Starts Today

    Women's World Champion Hou Yifan will have the black pieces in game one (of ten) against her challenger, Humpy Koneru. Play begins today - Monday - at 3 p.m. local time in Tirana, Albania. (That's also 3 p.m. CET; 9 a.m. ET in the USA.) Official site here.

    Saturday
    Mar052011

    Women's Grand Prix: Koneru Ties for First, Earns Title Match

    Very impressive! Humpy Koneru won when it counted, and everything else went just so for her to tie for first in the Women's Grand Prix tournament in Qatar and qualify for a world championship match later this year against Hou Yifan.

    Coming into the last round, she was tied with Marie Sebag for second in the tournament, half a point behind Elina Danielan. Koneru needed to finish tied for first, but with no more than one of her two rivals. On paper it didn't look good at all: while she was facing a tail-ender, Zhu Chen, she would had Black. Further, Danielan was also facing a tailender, but with White, while Sebag, though Black, was facing the second lowest-rated player in the tournament. And yet it all worked out: Danielan was quickly held to a draw by Antoaneta Stefanova, Koneru won, and after a long struggle Sebag overpressed and lost.

    By tying for first, Koneru leapfrogged Nana Dzagnidze and came in second in the overall Grand Prix standings, thus qualifying for a match against the World Champion. Why didn't the first place finisher qualify instead? That's because she - Hou Yifan - is already the World Champion. When they play, it will be their third match in a world championship, but their first world championship match in a proper sense. In the last two k.o. events, they played in the semi-finals, with Hou winning both times. Those were mini-matches; this time around they'll play 10 games, probably in or around August or September.