Istanbul: the tide turns, Zhao beats Hou

3/17/2009 – The meteoric path of 15-year-old Hou Yifan has been stopped – by her compatriot Zhao Xue, who defeated her after the younger girl blundered on her last move before the time control. Zhao now leads with 7.0/8 points and a 2790 performance. Behind the Chinese girls and always good for a big finish: India's GM Koneru Humpy, the second strongest female player in history. Big pictorial report.

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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 eight

After seven rounds fifteen-year-old Hou Yifan had gathered 6½ points, and the cross table showed an incredible 2905 performance. Her Chinese colleague Zhao Xue was not doing too bad either. She had six points and a 2746 performance. In round eight the two met, with the younger girl getting the white pieces and going for some intergalactic record.

Hou Yifan (2571) - Zhao Xue (2508) [C92]
FIDE Women's Grand Prix Instanbul TUR (8), 15.03.2009
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Bb7 10.d4 Re8 11.Nbd2 Bf8 12.a4 Na5 13.Bc2 b4 14.cxb4 Nc6 15.Nb3 Nxb4 16.Na5 Qb8 17.dxe5 dxe5 18.Bg5 Nd7 19.Bb3 Nc5 20.Bd2 Nxb3 21.Qxb3 c5 22.Ng5 Re7 23.Bxb4 cxb4 24.Rad1 Qe8 25.Qxb4 Rb8 26.Qc4 Rc8 27.Qb3 Ba8 28.Nc4 Rec7 29.Nb6 Rb8 30.a5 Rc5 31.Qg3 Bc6 32.b4 Rb5 33.Nd5 Bxd5 34.exd5 Bxb4 35.Rxe5 Qd8 36.Ne4 Qxa5 37.Rg5 Bf8 38.d6 Rxg5 39.Nxg5 Qf5

It happens all the time: the time control looms fiercely, the player makes – well simply a move. 40.Kh2? The tide turns, this move loses a pawn: 40...h6 41.Nf3 and now the knight can no longer be used to defend the all-important d-pawn, which was supposed to get yet another point for the young chess phenomenon. 41...Rd8 42.Kg1 Qe6 43.Ra1 Rxd6. "A pawn down, draw – if Anand was playing," said one spectator. But Hou has just turned fifteen and is not yet in the same league as Anand (that probably comes in October). 44.Qf4 Qb3 45.Qc1 a5 46.Nd2 Qb5 47.Ne4 Re6 48.Nc3 Qe5 49.Na4 Bd6 50.g3 Qf5 51.Qf1 Bb4 52.Rc1 Rd6 53.Nb2 Bc5 54.Qe2 Qxf2+. A second pawn goes, and now nobody can hold the position for white. 55.Qxf2 Bxf2+ 56.Kxf2 Rd2+ 57.Kf3 Rxb2 58.Rc8+ Kh7 59.Ra8 Rb3+ 60.Kg2 Rb5 61.Ra6 h5 62.h4 Rf5 63.Kh3 g6 64.Ra7 Kg7 65.Ra6 Kf8 66.Ra7 Ke8 67.Kg2 Rc5 68.Kf3 Kd8 69.Kg2 Rf5 70.g4 hxg4 71.Kg3 Kc8 72.Kxg4 Kb8 73.Re7 a4 74.h5 Rxh5 75.Rxf7 a3 76.Rf8+ Kb7 77.Rf7+ Kb6 78.Rf6+ Kb5 79.Rxg6 Rh1 0-1.

After this game Zhao has taken the lead and is now on a 2790 performance. Half a point behind is Hou, whose performance has dropped to 2720. And in waiting for her chance half a point behind is India's GM Koneru Humpy, who crushed Zeineb Mamedyarova and who is good for a big, event-deciding finish (Humpy plays Zhao, Sebag and Stefanova).

Current standings

In our previous report we showed you a "forced win" that Martha Fierro had missed against Koneru Humpy:

Fierro Baquero,M (2403) - Koneru,H (2621) [C90]
FIDE Women's Grand Prix Instanbul TUR (5), 12.03.2009
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.d3 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.Re1 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.Nbd2 Nd7 12.Nf1 Nb6 13.Ng3 Nc6 14.h3 Be6 15.d4 exd4 16.cxd4 cxd4 17.Ne2 Nb4 18.Bb1 d3 19.Nf4 Bf6 20.Nxe6 fxe6 21.a3 Nc2 22.Bxc2 dxc2 23.Qxc2 Rc8 24.Qe2 Nc4 25.Rb1 Qa5 26.Rd1 Rfe8 27.Bg5 Qd8 28.Bxf6 Qxf6 29.Rd4 d5 30.exd5 exd5 31.Qd3 h6 32.h4 Rc6 33.h5 Rce6 34.Rg4 Ne5 35.Nxe5 Rxe5 36.Qg6 Rc8??

"Did Humpy really play that?" we asked, "and did Martha really overlook the forced win?" According to the bulletin she played 37.Qd3? instead of 37.Qxf6 Rg5 38.Rxg5 hxg5 39.Qe6+ Kh7 40.Qxc8 and mate to follow. Our colleagues in Istanbul investigated and, and examination of the scoresheet revealed that Humpy had not, of course, played the catastrophic 36...Rc8?? but 36...Re1+, picking off a pawn and ultimately taking the game. Here is the correct notation:

Fierro Baquero,M (2403) - Koneru,H (2621) [C90]
FIDE Women's Grand Prix Instanbul TUR (5), 12.03.2009
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.d3 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.Re1 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.Nbd2 Nd7 12.Nf1 Nb6 13.Ng3 Nc6 14.h3 Be6 15.d4 exd4 16.cxd4 cxd4 17.Ne2 Nb4 18.Bb1 d3 19.Nf4 Bf6 20.Nxe6 fxe6 21.a3 Nc2 22.Bxc2 dxc2 23.Qxc2 Rc8 24.Qe2 Nc4 25.Rb1 Qa5 26.Rd1 Rfe8 27.Bg5 Qd8 28.Bxf6 Qxf6 29.Rd4 d5 30.exd5 exd5 31.Qd3 h6 32.h4 Rc6 33.h5 Rce6 34.Rg4 Ne5 35.Nxe5 Rxe5 36.Qg6 Re1+ 37.Rxe1 Rxe1+ 38.Kh2 Qxb2 39.Qxh6 Qa1 40.Qg6 Rh1+ 41.Kg3 Qe5+ 42.Rf4 Rxh5 43.Kf3 Rh6 44.Qc2 Qh5+ 45.g4 Qh1+ 46.Ke3 Re6+ 47.Kd4 Qe1 48.Kd3 Re8 49.Qd2 Qb1+ 50.Qc2 Qf1+ 51.Kd4 Qa1+ 52.Qc3 Qd1+ 53.Qd3 Qa4+ 0-1.


Pictorial report from Istanbul

By Özgür Akman


At the Olympiad in Dresden Martha Fierro won silver for second-best performance
on Board 1 (first was Maia Chiburdanidze, third Hou Yifan)


Pia Cramling vs Shen Yang in round eight (Cramling won)


The analysis session after the game is conducted with humour and enjoyment


Koneru Humpy made short work out in her match against Zeineb Mamedyarova


With fur vest and silver pot with raisin tea: Hou Yifan takes a loss in round eight


Former World Champions: Antoaneta Stefanova and Maia Chiburdanidze


Kibitzing: Zhao Xue finds time to look around at the other games


The legend: Maia Chiburdanidze, women's world champion from 1978-1991


Zeineb Mamedyarova, sister of super-GM Shakhriyar


Franco Matamoros, the only grandmaster from Ecuador, helping
the strongest female player of his country, Martha Fierro, in Istanbul


A golden cow, created by graphics designer Cem Kiziltug, was bought by the bank
during a major charity drive. The proceeds were donated to various social NGOs.


Biographies

Zhao Xue (China)
Birth Year: 1985
Rating: 2508
Title: Grandmaster (GM)
FIDE Rating List Rank (Women): 11

Being one of the top Chinese female players, Xue Zhao has been one of the stars of her national team since 2002 when she led her country to the gold medal with a dominating 11/12 score and a performance rating of 2723 on the reserve board. In Calvia 2004 she also scored 10/12 and helped her country to win another gold while in the last two Olympiads in Turin and Dresden, she helped her team to win bronze medals. She was the leading player of the Chinese team which won the 2007 Women’s Team Championship.

She took the first place with 5.5/9 in Is Bank Atatürk Women Masters 2008.


Pia Cramling (Sweden)
Birth Year: 1963
Rating: 2548
Title: Grandmaster (GM)
FIDE Rating List Rank (Women): 5

Since the early 1980s, Pia Cramling has been one of the strongest female players in the world. She regularly plays on the Swedish (Men's) team in the World Chess Olympiads, one of only three women to regularly play on the "men's" teams. In 1992, she was awarded the title of grandmaster by the International Chess Federation (FIDE). Cramling, married to the Spanish grandmaster Juan Bellon, lived in Spain for a number of years. She won the 2003 women's European Individual Chess Championship.

She was member of the Monte Carlo Chess Club which won the European Club Cup twice in 2007 and 2008. She won the Mon Roi Grand Prix in 2007 and also took the second place with 6 points in Is Bank Atatürk International Women Masters tournament last year. She advanced to the semi final last year in FIDE World Women Chess Championship in Nalchik but eliminated by the eventual champion Alexandra Kosteniuk.


Elina Danielian (Armenia)
Birth Year: 1978
Rating: 2496
Title: International Master
FIDE Rating List Rank (Women): 16

Elina Danielian is the leading Armenian female player. In the earlier years of her career she won two world championship titles in cadets back in 1992 and 1993. She won the
First European Women Rapid Champion in 2001. She was the first board of Armenia and led her team to the victory in European Team Championship in 2001, while she won the gold medal on the first board.

She was the member of the victorious club in European Club Cup 2006, namely MIKA Yerevan. Next year she helped her country to win the bronze medal in European Team Championship 2007. She is a sports hero in her own country and has the National Olympic Committee Medal for Merit.

Remaining schedule

Tuesday March 17 15:00h Round 9
Wednesday March 18 15:00h Round 10
Thursday March 19 11:00h Round 11
    17:00 Prize ceremony
Friday March 20   Departure

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