Istanbul: Humpy wins, Zhao loses for an exciting finish

3/18/2009 – French GM Marie Sebag actually did it: she outplayed the leading Zhao Xue to give the Istanbul Women's Grand Prix a rousing finish. Especially since Koneru Humpy scored a crushing win against Antoaneta Stefanova, and Hou Yifan survived a tough game against Elina Danielian. So it's Humpy, Hou and Zhao with 7.5/10 in the final round. All have the black pieces. Watch it on Playchess.

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İş Bankası - Women Grand Prix Series in Istanbul

The first event of the FIDE 2009/2010 Grand Prix cycle is being held in Istanbul: It is called the Is Bank Atatürk FIDE Women Masters, and is actually the second edition of a women’s super tournament in Turkey. It is taking placed from the 6th to 20th of March in Istanbul, at Cybele Art Gallery in Is Bank Tower.

Report after round ten

Marie Sebag, whom in yesterday's report we called "a dangerous opponent, always good for surprises," proved us right by outplaying the leading Zhao Xue with the black pieces. The Semi-Slav lasted 63 moves and ended with Zhao plonking into a mating net. The Chinese girl's colleague, Hou Yifan, had an equally rough time against Elina Danielian, but escaped when the Armenian IM overlooked a simple trick.

Meanwhile top seed Koneru Humpy, who for a while had been limping along, a point behind the leader, played a crushing game against former women's world champion Antoaneta Stefanova to draw level with her two Chinese rivals. Martha Fierro stopped her losing streak with a hard-fought win against Shen Yang, and Maia Chiburdanidze convincingly outplayed her inexperienced Turkish opponent, who is now on minus seven (eight losses, one win and a draw) but still playing slight above her expected score.

Round 10: Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Koneru Humpy 
1-0
 Antoaneta Stefanova
Pia Cramling 
½-½
 Zeinab Mamedyarova
Betül Yildiz 
0-1
 Maia Chiburdanidze
Martha Fierro 
1-0
 Shen Yang
Hou Yifan 
½-½
 Elina Danielian
Zhao Xue 
0-1
 Marie Sebag

Current standings

With one round to go three players are tied for first, all with 7.5/10 points. All three have the black pieces in the last round. Humpy must play Marie Sebag, the giant-killer of round ten. We predict that the Indian GM will play for a win and use one of her trademark assets to succeed: grim determination. Zhao Xue has the daunting task of facing Elina Danielian, who has a theoretical chance to win the event and will certainly come out fighting. Hou Yifan faces her compatriot Shen Yang, who is not in the best shape – she is playing two hundred points below her nominal 2448 rating. The two are friends and a dejected Shen may be quick to surrender the point.

So hou do you think will win the İş Bankası Women Grand Prix 2009 Istanbul (we cannot resist repeating Nigel Short's infamour pun)? We are still guessing it will be the one with the determination and the tilaka on her forehead, though the one with the preserved dates in a silver pot may well join her at the top. Here are the complete pairings:

Round 11: Thursday, 19 March 2009

Marie Sebag 
-
 Koneru Humpy
Elina Danielian 
-
 Zhao Xue
Shen Yang 
-
 Hou Yifan
Maia Chiburdanidze 
-
 Martha Fierro
Zeinab Mamedyarova 
-
 Betül Yildiz
Antoaneta Stefanova 
-
 Pia Cramling

What happens if there is a tie? The tournament regulations say:

  • The final ranking order of the players is determined by the number of points scored.

  • If two or more players tie for first place, the tie to decide the awarding of the trophies will be broken (in descending order) by:
    • Direct Encounter [Hou beat Humpy, Zhao beat Hou]
    • Sonneborn-Berger (with real points),
    • Score Koya System (the number of points achieved against all opponents who have achieved 50 % or more)
       
  • The players in the same point groups will share money prizes and GP points.

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Pictorial impressions from Istanbul

By Özgür Akman


A key game in round ten: Humpy defeats Stefanova to move to the top of the table


Zhao Xue: iPodding during the game? We assume she took them off before the start


Zeinab Mamedyarova, who drew in this round against...


Pia Cramling, who was one of the world's strongest before Zeinab was born


Both vying for first: Hou Yifan vs Elina Danielian in round ten

Hou Yifan (2571) - Danielian,E (2496) [B18]
FIDE Women's Grand Prix Instanbul TUR (10), 18.03.2009
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Nc5 Nd7 6.Nxb7 Qc7 7.Nc5 Nxc5 8.dxc5 e6 9.Nf3 Bxc5 10.Bc4 Nf6 11.0-0 h6 12.b3 0-0 13.Bb2 Rfd8 14.Qe2 Nd5 15.Nh4 Nf4 16.Qf3 Bh7 17.Rad1 e5 18.Qg3 Bxc2 19.Rc1 Bh7 20.Nf3 Bd4 21.Nxd4 exd4 22.Rfd1 c5 23.Bf1 Qe5 24.Re1 Qf5 25.b4 cxb4 26.h4 Bg6 27.Rcd1 Qf6 28.Rd2 Rac8 29.Qb3 a5 30.g3 Ne6 31.Qd1 Rc3 32.Qa4 Rc5 33.a3 bxa3 34.Bxa3

Black is two pawns up and essentially winning, but now she oopses with 34...Re5? This overlooks the simple trick 35.Be7 Qxe7 36.Rxe5 and Black no longer has a chance to win. 36...d3 37.Qxa5 Qf6 38.Rd5 Rxd5 39.Qxd5 Qc3 40.h5 Be4 41.Rxd3 Qxd3 42.Qxd3 Bxd3 43.Bxd3 Kf8 44.Kg2 Ke7 45.Kf3 Kf6 46.Kg4 Nc5 ½-½.


Hou survived the deadly attack of this Armenian lady!


After a lean period a hard-fought win: Martha Fierro vs Shen Yang


Another defeat, but at the hands of a chess legend: Betül Yildiz vs...


Maia Chiburdanidze. After a stellar 2715 performance in Dresden just 50% in Istanbul


Biographies

Marie Sebag (France)
Birth Year: 1986
Rating: 2529
Title: Grandmaster (GM)
FIDE Rating List Rank (Women): 9

Marie Sebag (born October 15, 1986 in Paris, France) is a French chess player who won the French Chess Championship for women in 2000 and 2002. In 1998 Sebag won the European Youth Chess Championship (girls under-12), a feat she repeated the next year (girls U14) and in 2002 (girls U16). In 2004 she shared first place in the World Youth Chess Championship in the category girls U18 with Jolanta Zawadzka, who defeated her in the tie-break. In 2006 she reached the quarter-finals during the Women's World Chess Championship, in which she lost to Svetlana Matveeva.

Sebag was already an IM and a WGM when she scored her second GM norm during the Hogeschool Zeeland tournament in Vlissingen in August 2007, where she won a game against former FIDE World Champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov. By securing a third norm during the European Individual Chess Championship she qualified for the title of Grandmaster in May 2008.


Humpy Koneru (India)
Birth Year: 1987
Rating: 2621
Title: Grandmaster (GM)
World ranking (Women): 2

Koneru Humpy is the world number two in female rankings. Her rating is only below that of Judit Polgar, who has been leading the list for more than a decade and is widely accepted as being the strongest female player in the history of the game. Humpy is the second women player ever to pass the 2600 mark. She was the holder of the record of youngest women ever to become a grandmaster when she obtained the title at 15 years, 1 month, 27 days (breaking Judit Polgar’s record) in 2002. Humpy's record was recently broken by Hou Yifan

Humpy won the World Junior Girls Chess Championhip in 2001 and the first edition of the North Urals Cup, a women’s super tournament held in Krasnoturinsk. In 2006 she participated in the Women's World Chess Championship, but her effort ended in the second round. In the Women's World Chess Championship 2008 she made it to the semi-finals, but was knocked out of the tournament by Hou Yifan. She played on the first board of the Monte Carlo Chess Club, the winner of the last two editions of the European Club Cup.

Remaining schedule

Thursday March 19 11:00h Round 11 (final)
    17:00 Prize ceremony
Friday March 20   Departure

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