Friday, December 17, 2010

2010 Women's World Chess Championship - Koneru Humpy Knocked Out of Running

Koneru v. Hou, R5 G2.  From official website.
GM Koneru Humpy could manage only a draw against GM Hou Yifan today in their second game of R5, and Koneru is out of the tournament, falling to Hou Yifan 0.5 to 1.5.  The other two Chinese players who - slap me for saying so - just aren't very important - drew their second game and go into tie-breaks tomorrow.  So what?  The finale of this event will only be news if Hou Yifan somehow manages not to win it.  Do I think that's possible?  I just made a most unladylike snorting sound, similar to the sound I made last Sunday when the Packers managed to lose against the Detroit Lions. 

Here is a summary from the official website:

The first finalist was determined today after the second game in semifinal matches. Hou Yifan, playing black, drew the second game against Humpy Koneru and promoted to the final. A Chinese player sacrificed 2 pawns but received a good compensation. In order to protect her king Humpy Koneru had to give the extra material back. The Indian player had already lost her match to Chinese prodigy two years ago during the World Championship in Nalchik. At that time she also lost the first game of the semifinal match but succeeded to equalize the score and, unlike today, the match was decided only on tie-break. Zhao Xue and Ruan Lufei drew the second game today and decided to try their luck in tie-breaks tomorrow.

The official site has an interview with IM Harika Dronavalli, who was eliminated in the last round by one of the Chinese players.  As always, she was very gracious.
Round 5
Round 5 Match 01
Ruan, LufeiCHNWGM2480½½1
Zhao, XueCHNGM2474½½1
Round 5 Match 02
Koneru, HumpyINDGM26000½½
Hou, YifanCHNGM25911½

I feel absolutely awful for Koneru Humpy.  She is, I believe, the better chess player.  But, let's face it, India doesn't exactly drown their star chessplayers in funds for training and seconds.  It's well known that the All India Chess Federation (which is being challenged by an "upstart" chess federation with some success, evidently) wants to direct Koneru's chess career, while Koneru wants to direct her own chess career.  This has led to clashes and a loss of crucial support as "punishment" for Koneru being an uppity woman.

On the bright side, perhaps now Hou Yifan will be able to afford to go to a decent hairdresser and get something - anything - done with that awful hairstyle she's been wearing since she game out of the womb.  Some new clothes would not be amiss either, with some much-needed advice from a stylist as to age-appropriate cool fashions for a 16 year old who is Women's World Chess Championship.  I will pray to the Goddess for this to happen, please!.  Perhaps Yifan could consult with the stylish Skripchenko and Cmilyte, or the more avant-garde Paetz.  But perhaps "Mother Hou" has a reason for wanting to keep Yifan looking like an overgrown 7-year old.  Aww shucks, now I'm being mean.

Koneru and Hou will perhaps face off against each other again at the 2011 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival, scheduled for January 24 - February 3, 2011.  They are both on the accepted list of the top female players in the world.  BOTH Kosintseva sisters will be playing in Gibraltar, too.  In fact, the female line-up for that event is the most impressive - ever!  Wow.  That's going to be some event.  It merits its own post. 

Early coverage after Koneru's exit from the WWCC from around the net:

Susan Polgar - Despite Koneru's "valiant effort" there will be a new Chinese "Chess Queen"

And on yesterday's Koneru loss:

The Hindu:  Humpy Loses First Game
The Times of India: Humpy Slips with Black


Anonymous said...

Humpy is the better player????? You believe it based on what? Maybe her improvement is as steady as Hou's? Maybe her position in the overall age group rank is higher? Maybe she has a better score against her? Oh my, none of this is true.

OK, you don't like Hou's hairstyle and clothes. I guess it's clothes and hairstyle which make a better player.

Since they're chessplayers and not fashion models, I think Päthz and Skripchenko could better ask Hou for chess advice.

Jan said...

Yes, I think that Koneru Humpy is the better player. This is based on watching her career for the past 10 years over which she has grow into a very good chessplayer. She has a greater depth of experience, a wider, more varied playing repertoire and has played against a greater variety of stronger players than Hou. Part of this is due to the 7 year difference in their ages, but part of it is also due to Humpy being a well-rounded, seasoned player on the circuit who did not shrink from the challenges necessary to earn her GM title. Hou does not have this depth of experience and unless she gets out of China, never may have as someone - her mother, herself, and/or the Chinese chess establishment seems intent on keeping her a little girl who plays primarily in women's events. Oh, isn't she cute - when she was 12 with those clips in her hair and the dorky glasses. It's gotten a little old.

Koneru's individual record in her games with Hou is not any kind of measure of her overall playing level - nor of Hou's. Anyone who implies otherwise and bases Hou's claim to a legitimate woman's chess champion title on these limited meetings cannot be taken seriously.

I express my opinions and beliefs with my name attached for all to see. I do not hide behind an anonymous tag or attempt to disguise myself in any way, shape or form. You are welcome to disagree with me, of course, and lots of people do. It's easy to be smarmy behind "Anonymous." When I'm a smart-ass, everyone knows "Jan Newton is being a smart-ass today."

Hou's choice of dress is curious. She is not a child, she will be 17 in a few months. As the other Chinese women dress age appropriately and fashionably, and as there is no lack of fashion in China, why look like a nerd when you don't have to? I thought chessplayers were trying to get away from that tagline in promoting chess as a "sport." While her appearance has nothing to do with her chessplaying skills, I'm not going to ignore it either. In a few more games she will most likely be crowned the new Women's World Chess Champion. I do not think it is too much to expect that she update her style in an age-appropriate manner in fulfilling her role as women's champion with some grace and dignity. It remains to be seen whether she is up to that particular challenge.

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