Candidates 2024: Koneru Humpy beats Vaishali to grab her first win of tournament

Candidates 2024, Round 8: India’s Koneru Humpy beat compatriot R. Vaishali with white pieces to grab her first win of the tournament.

Published : Apr 14, 2024 05:19 IST , New Delhi - 3 MINS READ

India’s Koneru Humpy in action during the eighth round of Candidates 2024.
India’s Koneru Humpy in action during the eighth round of Candidates 2024. | Photo Credit: FIDE/Michał Walusza

India’s Koneru Humpy in action during the eighth round of Candidates 2024. | Photo Credit: FIDE/Michał Walusza

Just when it appeared R. Vaishali had weathered the storm, she committed the last mistake in her eighth-round encounter to give senior compatriot K. Humpy a much-awaited victory in the FIDE Women’s Candidates 2024 in Toronto.

When the action resumed on Saturday, following a day of rest, two of the three matches involving teammates produced decisive verdicts. Before Humpy won, defending champion Lei Tingjie outplayed leader Tan Zhongyi in an All-China clash to avenge the loss suffered in the opening round.

Following her first loss for a change, Tan shared the lead with Lei and Aleksandra Goryachkina.

Top seed Goryachkina was held back by her Russian teammate Kateryna Lagno before Anna Muzychuk and lowest-ranked Nurgyul Salimova battled for 120 moves before signing peace.

Humpy’s first victory – resulting in a fourth loss for Vaishali – could well prove to be the second wind for the seasoned campaigner. Though in terms of quality, the players erred in judgement at regular intervals, Humpy pressed hard for the better part of the contest.


As early as the 16th move, Humpy gained an advantage and five moves later, profitably traded her bishop for Vaishali’s rook. However, Humpy gradually lost control with Vaishali consistently finding some good moves. In fact, from the 38th move to the 55th move, there was very little to choose between the players.

It was in the endgame where Humpy proved stronger. With both players looking to advance a pawn each to bring back the queens on the board, Vaishali’s decision not to continue the much-needed rook protection for her advanced pawn proved crucial. Once Humpy captured Vaishali’s pawn on the seventh rank and prepared to deliver the knockout punch, the younger Indian gave up.


The game that appeared to be ending a three-fold repetition of the position, around the 20-move mark, turned Lei’s way after Tan committed a series of mistakes. After bringing her king to safety, Lei launched a massive attack on Tan’s king. Though Tan defended stubbornly, she could not prevent Lei from coming within three moves of forcing a checkmate.

The evenly-fought battle involving Lagno and Goryachkina ended following a three-fold repetition of the position.

The day also witnessed the longest battle of the competition ending in 120 moves. Anna and Salimova played 47 moves after the last pawn capture and eventually agreed on a draw. During this time, Salimova tried to force a win with her rook against Anna’s knight.

Eighth-round results (Indians unless stated): K. Humpy (3.5) bt R. Vaishali (2.5) in 63 moves in Gruenfeld Botvinnik; Tan Zhongyi (Chn, 5) lost to Lei Tingjie (Chn, 5) in 51 moves in Queen’s Pawn Game; Kateryna Lagno (FIDE, 4.5) drew with Aleksandra Goryachkina (FIDE, 5) in 34 moves in Ruy Lopez Moeller Defence; Nurgyul Salimova (Bul, 3.5) drew with Anna Muzychuk (Ukr, 3) in 120 moves in Queen’s Gambit.

Ninth-round pairings: Humpy-Lagno; Vaishali-Tan; Lei-Salimova; Anna-Goryachkina.

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