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Koneru Humpy wins Istanbul GP chess

Last updated on: March 20, 2009 11:40 IST

Luck and form combined as Indian Grandmaster Koneru Humpy won her final round match and the other title aspirants dropped down to facilitate her triumph in the first edition of I S Bank Ataturk women's Grand Prix chess tournament in Istanbul.

Humpy and the Chinese duo of Zhao Xue and Yifan Hao shared the lead going into the all-important final round. Of  the trio, only Humpy could win her match, against Marie Sebag of France, while Zhao lost to Elina Danielian of Armenia and Hao was held to a draw by compatriot Shen Yang.

Humpy finished the tournament with a commendable 8.5 points out of a possible 11.

The victory gives Humpy a head-start in the newly-constructed Grand Prix series, which is also a part of the next World Championship cycle.

Apart from the title, the Indian will return home richer by Euros 6400.

Elina finished second on a better tie-break than Yifan, with eight points, while Zhao, who enjoyed a full point lead coming in to last two rounds, had to be content with fourth place on 7.5 points.

Humpy knew that only a victory could keep her title hopes alive and the task was not easy with black pieces against Sebag, who looked in great form in the last few games.

It was a closed Ruy Lopez and Humpy went for routine play on the queen side only to find her pawn structure a bit weak.

Working her counter-play on the king side, Humpy exchanged white's defenders and the game seemed excitingly poised when disaster struck Sebag and she lost track of her position.

As a result, Humpy entered the seventh rank with her queen and that decisive as Sebag's position fell apart. Humpy won a rook for knight first and then rolled her central pawn to force matters.

The game lasted 47 moves.

Zhao Xue's aspirations suffered a setback as she was gradually outplayed by Elina, who played white. The queen pawn opening gave Elina only a minimal advantage but she nurtured it well to launch an attack on the king side.

Zhao missed a simple tactical trick that cost her two pawns and the resulting endgame gave her no chances. It was all over in just 38 moves.

The biggest surprise of the day was Yifan's draw with Shen Yang, who finished on a mere 2.5 points.

Playing black, Yifan went for a well-analysed variation in the Nimzo Indian defence and found Shen Yang adequately prepared.

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