Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chess Femme News

GM Hou Yifan
I'm glad to see she ditched the
hair-clips and her soft, slightly
shy smile hits the perfect note!
Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times wrote an opinion piece a few days ago about the so-called rise of China and it's superpower status, using the analogy of newly-crowned women's world chess champion GM Hou Yifan, the youngest champion yet at age 16.  While Mr. Kristoff may know how to play chess, it was obvious from what he wrote that he does not know anything about the microcosm of the "world of chess" and particularly now the State Organ of China uses chess as an instrment to tout it's "superiority" on the international stage.  I found the article rather silly, but below is the link to the opinion piece and the comments that followed separately, for anyone who may be interested.  My comment regarding the chess aspect is thus:  "western chess" in China is promoted the same way the Soviets promoted chess during the days of the old USSR - as a national tool to prove the "superiority" of its repressive, monolithic political system.  The same can be said for sports that have international audiences, particularly Olympic sports, such as gymnastics, where the Chinese routinely cheat just as the Soviets did, and figure skating - ditto. Well, we know what happened to the USSR, don't we.  My comment regarding some of the ridiculous misrepresentations in the article:  (1) There is no such thing as a decent education in China without paying for it - at all levels; the pressure to "do well" in school is such that students pay to have others take their exams for them and pay others to do their papers; plagerism is rampant and accepted as a practical way to get ahead.  (2) As a consequence of its defective educational system, very little original research and practically no true innovation is coming out of China -- it is all copycat from what has been produced in other countries.  (3) Female infanticide and abortion of female fetuses is still rampant throughout China, particularly in the rural areas, despite what Mr. Kristoff wrote.  Try doing a google search under the subject - but be warned - it is not for the weak of stomach or the faint of heart.  The consequence in practical terms is that in approximately 10 years, perhaps even less, China is going to run smack into a gigantic demographic shortage of women of child-bearing age because of the practice of killing female infants and fetuses.  I wonder how a government that emphasizes "social harmony" over the rights of individuals will deal with that one?
Op-Ed Columnist
China Rises, and Checkmates
Published: January 8, 2011

January 8, 2011, 7:43 pm
Your Comments on China and Chess

10th Berkeley International
January 2- 8, 2010
Berkeley, California

WFM Tatev Abrahamyan finished in 15th place overall, tied with several players with 6.5/10, earned $250 for her efforts and a WGM norm.  She doesn't care about "female" norms, though. She was shooting for an IM norm and didn't make it.  Too bad.  Abrahamyan was one of two women playing in this event of 58 players, specially designed to provide players with norm opportunities.  The other chess femme playing was WIM Lorena Zepada, who finished in 43rd place overall with 4.0/10.  My apologies if I missed any other chess femmes playing in this event.  On a separate note, it was good to see "I'm never going to play chess again" Sam Shankland in action - and he earned his final GM norm for his efforts, too.  Perhaps young Sam has learned that it is best not to make dramatic pronouncements while in the throes of intense emotions, because one may often find that one has to eat those words later on...

Chess Queens Plot Their Plans...
From the Deccan Chronicle Online
January 6, 2011 - I found this by visiting our friends at - thanks!

Chess queens Dronavalli Harika and Koneru Humpy may not have had a great year in 2010 as they failed to bag gold in the tournaments but the new year is enough motivation to start afresh. Harika had to settle for bronze in the Asian Games at Guangzhou. World No.2 Humpy too crashed out of the World Women’s chess championship in the semifinal stage. Her ELO rating too took a dip as Humpy, rated 2614 in January last, ended the year on 2607. Humpy is keen to turn her ratings around in 2011.

“Frankly speaking, the last year had not been a good one for me. I started off well finishing second in Gibraltar and fourth in the Fide Grand Prix in Doha. Thereafter, I participated in the Nalchik Women’s Grand Prix where I was fifth, followed by the Women’s World Blitz Chess Championship in Moscow in September,” said Humpy.

“I would have loved to represent my country in the Asian Games, but the on-going differences with the All-India Chess Association prevented me from doing so,” she said, adding, “Reaching the semifinals of the World Women’s Championship and then not making it to the final was quite disheartening.”
“I am just praying for a better year ahead where I can win more titles and perform better,” said the Grandmaster.

“I am planning to take it one tournament at a time. But my main focus is the Women’s Fide Grand Prix Series which has its first Championship in Doha in January,” she added. World junior champion in 2008, Harika, is content with her show last year despite the shortcomings in events such as the Women’s World Championship.

“Winning bronze in the Asian Games individual event was great but I am disappointed about having missed a medal in the team event,” said the 19-year-old, adding, “In the Women’s World Championship too, I missed the semifinal berth after losing in the tie-breaker round.” The International Master also gained two norms after a stupendous show at International open tournaments in Reykjavik (Iceland) and Greece.

“I will work towards getting my third norm which will make me a Grandmaster,” said Harika, who is rated 2520.

I will cheer for Dronavalli to earn that final GM norm and join the growing ranks of female chessplayers who hold the GM title - over 20 now.  When I started following chess in 2001, there were fewer than 10.

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