Humpy in spotlight

NAGARA GOPAL

Playing against Grandmasters such as Viktor Korchnoi and Jan Timman was a “fantastic experience” for Koneru Humpy (in pic) who helped Snowdrops post a decisive 16.5-15.5 victory over Old Hands.

Koneru Humpy proved her class by beating Grandmasters like Viktor Korchnoi in a chess tournament in the Czech Republic recently. The tournament, called the Czech Coal Chess Match and hosted by the Prague Chess Society, pitted top women players called Snowdrops against older male players referred to as the Old Hands.

Humpy played a significant role for Snowdrops — which also comprised Anna Muzychuk, Kateryna Lahno (both Ukraine) and Jana Jackova (Czech Republic) — as it scored a decisive 16.5-15.5 victory over Old Hands represented by Viktor Korchnoi, Jan Timman, Robert Hubner and Vlastimil Hort.

“It was a fantastic experience. Not often do we get the chance to even watch their games from close quarters because of the generation gap. So to play against someone like Korchnoi and Timman is a huge learning experience,” Humpy told Sportstar on her return home.

The presence of former world champion Boris Spassky as the guest of honour at the valedictory function of the tournament was itself a huge inspiration for the young women.

According to GM Humpy (Elo 2603) the tournament was a prestigious one and it demanded intense preparations. And viewed against the backdrop of her controversy with the AICF (All India Chess Federation), the Czech Coal Chess Match was a highly satisfying event for the World No. 2.

Humpy, a Deputy Manager in ONGC (HR), proved a point or two to her critics by emerging the top scorer in the tournament with 5.5 points from eight games. She won four of her games, drew three and lost one.

One of the high points of the trip to the Czech Republic, according to Humpy, was when Spassky appreciated her convincing win over Vlastimil Hort with black pieces. Spassky told Humpy’s father Koneru Ashok, who is also her coach, “She is playing well with deep positional understanding.”

Ashok is delighted that his champion daughter has come back strongly after the controversy with the AICF. “She suffered a lot during that turbulent phase and even stopped playing for two weeks. But after much persuasion, she decided to choose the best way to silence her critics — with her performance on the 64 squares,” he explained.

After a break during the year-end, Humpy is confident of realising her goal: of crossing the barrier of Elo 2700 and also becoming the world champion.

V. V. Subrahmanyam * * * New points system in F1

Beginning next year, Formula One race winners will receive 25 points in a new points system for the top 10 finishers, the ruling body, FIA, said on December 11.

The FIA World Motorsport Council agreed to scrap the 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system it used for seven years for the top eight across the line because the number of teams will grow from 10 to 13 in 2010.

To accommodate the now 26 drivers, points will be awarded to the top 10 finishers in a 25-20-15-10-8-6-5-3-2-1 system after the FIA F1 commission recommended this change.

The FIA also said that the 2010 season will end in Abu Dhabi on November 14, like it did this year. The Brazilian Grand Prix was named season-ender in the provisional calendar, but now Abu Dhabi will once again host the final race. The Brazilian GP is set for November 7.

The 2010 season starts on March 14 in Bahrain and consists of 19 races. They include the inaugural South Korea GP on October 24, although it is pending ratification by the FIA motorsport council.

The FIA also decided that commissioners of the new FIA boss, Jean Todt (in pic), will be present at the Formula One races and other FIA events. The number of F1 race stewards rises from three to four and is to include former racers.