Sunday, May 15, 2011

While Hou Yifan Is Training for the WWCC, What's Koneru Humpy Doing?

(Setting the stage...) From The Times of India:

Koneru Humpy wins FIDE Grand Prix
TNN, Mar 6, 2011, 05.42am IST

MUMBAI: Top seed Koneru Humpy earned the right to challenge world women's champion Hou Yifan of China after winning the FIDE Women Grand Prix at Doha on Saturday.

Humpy tied with Elina Danielian of Armenia in the 11-round event on points but her better tiebreak (SB) score helped her clinch the first place.

The Indian scored two crucial wins, against Lilit Mkrtchian of Armenia in the penultimate round and then beat Zhu Chen of Qatar to edge out the Armenian, who had lost to the Indian in their meeting. Humpy and Danielian logged eight points each.
From The Times of India:

Humpy has to be tactically alert: Anand
Amit Karmarkar, TNN, Mar 7, 2011, 11.18pm IST

PUNE: K Humpy is the first Indian woman to be one step away from being the World chess champion. She will play the title match against China's Hou Yifan, an opponent she lost to twice in the knockout semifinals.

Humpy set up this match by winning the Doha chess Grand Prix by staging a remarkable rally: 5.5 points in the last six rounds. Only V Anand among Indians has reached thus far (world title match), and beyond. And the undisputed World champion in all formats of the 64-square game have been following the Doha meet keenly. He spoke to TOI from Chennai.

How would you describe the significance of Humpy's achievement?

It's a fantastic win. She has been missing out a lot of these events. She came close in knockout format twice but couldn't finish it off. I was following the GP from the beginning and the things were not going well for her initially. And once Danielian Elina ( Armenia) started doing well, it became worse for Humpy. She had to depend on her results but also on other results. But full credit to her for fighting it out, especially in the last two games.

How do you see the evolution of Humpy as a super player among women?

She has managed to keep her high rating comfortably. But that big breakthrough was not happening. Now she gets an opportunity. India-China rivalry is good for chess. Having said that, Hou is a ridiculously talented girl.

What's the way to beat Hou?

Humpy has to be tactically much more alert. The initiative has to be converted into a point. She has to find a way to improve her technique. There is no point in outplaying someone if (she) can find an escape route tactically. Hou is not a clear favourite as such. But she is dangerous.

You don't advocate the word revenge that strongly. But the match against Hou provides just that kind of opportunity for Humpy...

If revenge motivates you, go for it! But the main thing is to set your game in order. She has to train well and continue her good run in other events preceding the title match, the schedule of which is unclear.

Any comments on the problems between Humpy and AICF (Humpy had skipped Olympiad and Asian Games recently)?

I would advise Humpy to forget everything. Just concentrate on the game.

Humpy reaching the title clash also happened in proximity to the International Women's Day...

It adds a nice touch. Humpy reaching thus far is a huge thing for women's chess in India.
From The Hindu:

Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Tuesday, Mar 08, 2011
Humpy a step closer to realising dream
V.V. Subrahmanyam

HYDERABAD: World No.2 Koneru Humpy believes that she has moved one step closer to realising her dream of winning the World title, by becoming the first-ever Indian woman chess player to earn the right to challenge the reigning world champion Hou Yifan in a 10-match series later this year.

Humpy, who returned victorious from the Doha Women's Grand Prix Series edition last week, told The Hindu on Monday that she had earned her berth in the prestigious final by virtue of her performances in the Grand Prix Series in the last two years. “Picking up points from each of the Series, I turned out to be the highest ranked player and this gives me the chance to challenge the world champion,” she said.

“The new format for the World championship worked to my advantage. I had reached the semifinals twice in the last two World Championships played in a knock-out format,” Humpy said. But Humpy had lost to Hou Yifan in both the semifinals.

“It was a big disadvantage for me in 2008 as I had to start with black. Then the next time when I played her, for various reasons the confidence level was not that high,” she recalled.

The Vijayawada-based former world junior champion believes that the 10-game final format should give her a huge psychological advantage. “You can always fight back even if there are reverses in the first two rounds,” she said.

Humpy indicated that she might hire a ‘second' as part of her preparations for the World championship. “I am seriously thinking about this and will choose a second, once I plan out my schedule,” she said. “As of now, there are no confirmed plans to take part in any events before the World championship.”

Humpy (Elo 2607) also says that the World championship preparations are bound to be different this time around. “But having come so close to realising my childhood dream, I do believe that I should make every effort to make optimum use of the chance to play in the final,” she said.

Her father-cum-coach Koneru Ashok also revealed that the ‘second' would be named in a few days. “I personally believe that the 10-game format should help Humpy. This really suits her style and if everything goes according plan she is capable of pulling off the biggest win of her career,” he said.
From The Hindu:

Coaching  young talent to excel at summer camps
March 27, 2011
V.V. Subrahmanyam

During his hey days, Lanka Ravi, the first-ever International Master from Andhra Pradesh, clearly missed proper guidance and exposure to be a much better player than what he eventually ended up.

So, in an apparent bid to ensure that the best of the young talent doesn't suffer for want of support on all fronts, Ravi started the Cyber Chess Academy in Hyderabad has been unobtrusively running it with the specific intent of producing quality players.

Ravi, who is a senior officer in the ONGC looking after the sports and who was also instrumental in many chess players including World No. 2 Koneru Humpy getting a job in the organisation, has now embarked on a mission, literally – to run summer coaching camps for the young talent with a huge difference.

Come summer, it is time for everyone, irrespective whether they themselves were sportspersons in their respective fields, to announce the plans of summer camps.

Most of them end up with capitalising on the interest of the kids rather than genuinely interested in spotting talent and also suggesting how to groom it.

But in the case of Ravi, he made it clear that his summer coaching camp for boys and girls commencing from April 2 in Tarbund should usher in a new chapter in coaching itself.

Exactly with this specific objective in mind, Ravi proposes to organise summer camp between April and May with the novelty being that the students can register themselves for 15 days with three-hour daily schedule.

“I have decided to focus on those in the age group of five to 16 years. But let me make it clear that the camp doesn't end there. I will make sincere efforts to see that they compete in the Talent Search matches wherein in the Academy will identify the select players and offer free training for the entire year from June to next March,” he explains.

And, unlike many run-of-the mill academies that have come up in the city, Lanka Ravi is keen to hire the services of a team of Grand Masters and International Masters to smoothen the rough edges of the young talent.

“This should help the players to look ahead and aim big. For any interaction with a Grand Master is like a young schoolboy cricketer meeting a Test star,” says Ravi.

Interestingly, Cyber Chess Academy also offers annual coaching classes by IMs and the GMs besides organising exclusive seminars by world class players and select players.

And one of them is scheduled for March 27 from 11. 00 am.

Not long ago, Ravi saw to [it] that former World junior champion Vera Nebolsina of Russia spent a couple of days with the Academy trainees.

“We will continue to see that many more champions visit our Academy. The logic is simple. I am trying my best to see that the talented kids get the desired coaching,” Ravi signs off.
So, while Hou Yifan is furiously competing against top level male chessplayers and succeeding in ratcheting up her ELO, Koneru Humpy has a job coaching kids.
From The Times of India:

India not in fray for title fight between Humpy-Yifan
Hari Hara Nandanan, TNN, Apr 12, 2011, 03.25am IST

[Some background:  There have been ongoing disputes and open warfare in the press between the All India Chess Federation (ACIF) and GM Koneru Humpy for at least 2-3 years now, regarding the level of financial support/sponsorship ACIF has promised but not provided, and other matters.  Relations between one of the top female players in the world and her home country's chess federation, ACIF, are not good, to put it politely.  This ongoing tension between player and federation is psychological poison for a chess player who is attempting to prepare for a world championship match.  Chess politics really really SUCKS.]

CHENNAI: The dates for the Koneru Humpy versus Hou Yifan women's world chess title match have been finalized but the venue will be known only on May 31, the last day for the bidding process to close. The world chess federation (FIDE) while opening the bidding process has announced that the 10-game match between the Indian and the Chinese will be played between November 10 and December 5 but right now it is not clear where the bid is going to come from.

Interestingly, it is certain that India won't be bidding for the match, though the All India Chess Federation (AICF) has not said so. Humpy's father-cum-coach Koneru Ashok has ruled out AICF making any bid. Though he did not explain the reason, it is understood that it could be because the player and the federation had some issues last year before the Asian Games.

"I don't think India will make a bid for the match," Ashok told TOI on Monday. Naturally, the bid has to be routed through the national federation. The prize fund for the match is 3,00,000 euros (in excess of Rs 1.8 crore) and even if the federation had a good relationship with the player, it would have been difficult for AICF to raise the amount as it will probably be looking to find a sponsor for Viswanathan Anand's title match next year, so that India could host the match.

The playing conditions and schedule for the match have been finalized. There will be a rest day after every two games and the tie-breaker, if required, will be played a day after the last game. In all, the match will last 20 days, including the inauguration and prize distribution. The total expenses for the match including prize fund, FIDE fee, arbiters fee etc would be around Rs 3.5 crore.

Ashok revealed to ToI that Humpy's camp had finalized the training team and seconds, but details would not be divulged for obvious reasons.

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