Humpy proves a point

Koneru Humpy... on cloud nine.-NAGARA GOPAL

The highlight of the Indian’s achievement was her victory over two former world champions, Maia Chiburdanidze and Antoaneta Stefanova. By V. V. Subrahmanyam.

Koneru Humpy served a rejoinder to her critics by winning the Women’s Grand Prix Series in style in Istanbul recently. And what was remarkable about her achievement was her victory over two former world champions, Maia Chiburdanidze and Antoaneta Stefanova, in the final rounds.

“For me, this was the best ever win in the women’s circuit, especially considering the line-up there,” said the World No. 2 from Vijayawada.

Humpy emerged the clear winner with 8.5 points in the tournament. The victory fetched her Rs. 4.53 lakhs as prize money and more importantly nine ELO points. Currently she enjoys a rating of 2621.

“The beauty of this win is that it came after the early setback in the third round when I lost to the Chinese girl Hou Yifan,” recalled Humpy, a former world junior champion. The 22-year-old player began with wins in the first two rounds before going down in the third round.

“Then (in the third round), I was certainly down. But my father-cum-coach, Koneru Ashok, kept encouraging me, saying that the loss was not the end of it all. ‘Chances will come your way in the next round and all that you have to do is to seize them’, was what he told me,” said Humpy.

Humpy moved into top gear when it mattered most — against Chiburdanidze and Stefanova. She was also very pleased with her crucial final round victory over Marie Sebag of France which decided the title in her favour.

“In a Ruy Lopez opening with black pieces, I surprised Sebag. I went in for an obscure variation on the ninth move playing a5. Instead of responding to that, Sebag only tried for minor tricks on her kingside. And after the 27th move, she erred pushing her pawn to d5.This saw Sebag lose control of the centre,” recalled Humpy.

Like a true champion, Humpy launched a strong kingside attack and her Ng4 on the 36th move proved decisive as Sebag was not equal to the task and had to resign.

Elina Danielian of Armenia and Hou Yifan finished second and third respectively with eight points each.

The Istanbul tournament is one of the six legs of the Women’s Grand Prix Series 2009-2010, organised by the FIDE and the Global Chess BV in different countries every year. The next leg is scheduled to be held in Nanjing (China) in September.