Grandmaster Koneru Humpy was outplayed by Yifan Hao of China in the first game of the semi-finals of World women’s chess championship in Hatay, Turkey on Friday.
Losing her first game so far in the championship, the memories of 2008 have come back to haunt the Indian star as Yifan had ousted her in the previous edition of the championship also in the semis.
Humpy is now under tremendous pressure to win the return game which will give her a chance to force the tiebreak games of shorter duration in this $450000 prize money championship.
The other game of the semifinals was an all Chinese affair, ending in a draw between Zhao Xue and Ruan Lufei who had ousted Indian D Harika in the previous round.
It turned out to be a very tough day for Humpy who went for the in vogue Berlin defense as black to handle Yifan’s King pawn opening.
Humpy’s plans to equalise with the Berlin did not quite materialise as it turned out she was not quite familiar with the intricacies of the endgame that is typical of the system.
Yifan, to her credit, exchanged pieces to exert pressure and it all boiled down to a Bishops and pawns endgame wherein Humpy’s dented pawn structure on the queen side had enormous impact.
Yifan, still in her teens, showed the way to Humpy with immaculate technique and even though the latter put up a valiant defense it was never enough.
Winning a pawn first, Yifan timely gave it back to march two of her pawns to the seventh rank to force resignation. The game lasted 78 moves.
Ruan Lufei played white and employed the Scotch opening against Zhao Xue. The queens got traded in the early stages of the opening itself and Ruan could boast of a little advantage with her intact pawn structure and better placed pieces in the center.
However, as the game progressed Zhao showcased her best counter attacking abilities and forcefully exchanged a handful of pawns on the queen side. The game was drawn in just 25 moves.
The World Championship started with 64 players on a knock out format. There were five Indians in the fray at the start but three Â– Soumya Swaminathan, Kruttika Nadig and S Meenakshi Â– went out in the first round itself.
Harika had meticulously marched her way to the quarter-finals before she met her nemesis in Ruan Lufei.