Sunday, March 13, 2011

GM Koneru Humpy Looking for Additional Coaching Staff

Story from The Times of India
Hari Hara Nandanan, TNN | Mar 11, 2011, 01.40am IST

MUMBAI: A top Grandmaster competing at the World championship in chess usually takes professional help to prepare against the potential rivals. Koneru Humpy has realised that she needs good preparation and so the help of professional trainers for her World championship match against defending champion Hou Yifan of China later this year.

So far, the 24-year-old Humpy has been training with her father, Koneru Ashok, a former National B player and Dronacharya, but the time has come for her to broaden her game. The upcoming match against Yifan will be totally different from the four attempts she had made in World championship in the last seven years.

"This is the first time I will be playing a match and I fancy my chances if I prepare well," she told TOI from Vijayawada. "I need professional help for my preparation because at the top level, most of the players even in the women's competition practise with trainers, all the time or at least for specific tournaments."

In 2004 and 2006 when she played the knockout championship, Humpy had disappointing results losing to Ekaterina Kovalevskaya of Russia (semifinal tiebreak) and Marie Sebag of France (second round) respectively. And in 2008 and 2010, when she entered the field as the top seed, she ran into Yifan, both in the semifinals.

So this is by far the best result for Humpy in the World championship. Her qualification from the Grand Prix — a series of events held by FIDE, the world body — was hanging in the balance until the last round as she needed to win that game and also hope that Nana Dzagnidze of Georgia would not figure in the top two.

Humpy had played in four events and two wins (a win at Istanbul and a shared first in Doha helped her pip Dzagnidze by eight points (398 to 390) and earn the right to play the title match.

At the same time, Humpy is guarded about her plans to choose a second because it is a sensitive issue. "I have to be careful in my choice because I have seen other women GMs in the World championships coming with trainers who had been working with their rivals before," she sounded cautious.

Will she prefer an Indian to work with her? "My problem is that there is hardly any player of substance after (Dronavalli) Harika and Tania (Sachdev) in India," lamented Humpy. "Previously, I used to go for the World championship without having a definite idea about my opponents (because they were knockout tournaments)."
Hmmmm.  It is a connundrum.  Who do you ask to assist as a second?  I say - why not ask an American-based player?  Anna Zatonskih?  Irina Krush?  How about Alexandra Kosteniuk, who plays under the Russian flag but lives in the U.S.?  What about Susan Polgar?  Polgar competed in two cycles under the "old" format to get to a match for the Women's World title and defeated formidible player Xie Jun to win the title in 1996.  GM Polgar no longer competes in tournaments, so she might be an ideal candidate --

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