Friday, August 3, 2007

It’s the turn of the ladies

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

TWO major ladies’ tournaments have just concluded this week. The first was the Women’s MonRoi International Grand Prix finale held in Montreal from July 21 to 28 and the 5th North Urals Cup, which took place in Russia from July 22 to 31.

The MonRoi Grand Prix was a closed round robin tournament for women and featured the winners of seven competitions held this year, namely the Gib Telecom in Gibraltar from Jan. 23 to Feb. 1, the Cannes Open in France in Feb. 18-25 and Zagreb Open in Croatia on March 17-25. The other legs were the ECU Individual in Dresden, Germany on April 2-15, the Liechtenstein Open last May11-19, the EU Individual in Italy on June14-25 and the World Open in USA last June 28-July4.

GM Pia Cramling of Sweden took clear first with 5/7. Final round seven standings: 1.) Cramling (2533, 5.0) 2.) Jovanka Houska (England, 2401, 4.5) 3.) Lela Javakhishvili (Georgia, 2460, 4.5) 4.) Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant (Georgia, 2418, 4.0) 5.) Iweta Rajlich (Poland, 2406, 4.0) 6.) Irina Krush (US, 2479, 3.0) 7.) Cristina Adela Foisor (Rome, 2372, 3.0) 8.) Myriam Roy (Canada, 1925, 0).

In addition to the cash prize, the winner of the Grand-Prix was awarded with a truly unique watch embellished with 16 sparkling diamonds.

According to its website, MonRoi’s mission is to create new products and services tailored for the chess community worldwide. The company designs and markets patented, innovative leading edge technology for real-time chess game broadcast.

This portable and wireless system was implemented on three continents in over 10,000 chess matches at the world championships, open and closed, as well as youth events. MonRoi also provides professional online services to tournament organizers.

The North Ural Cup was restricted to the top women players who have an Elo average of 2478. Zhu Chen, a Chinese, who now plays for Qatar after marrying Qatari GM Mohammed Al-Modiahki, won with 6/9 with a better tiebreak than another Chinese Zhao Xue. Chen was formerly the 11th World champion, who plays with a ponytail only when at the board.

In the 9th and final round, the big battle was between Xue and Katyrena Lahno. The Chinese won after a marathon 70 moves.

Chen also prevailed against ormer World champion Stefanova, who was definitely off-form, causing her to finish last.

Final Round 9 Standings: 1.) Zhu Chen (Qatar, 2522, 6.0) 2.) Zhao Xue (China, 2500, 6.0) 3.) Natalija Pogonina (Russia, 2429, 5.5), 4.) Kateryna Lahno (Ukraine, 2450, 5.0) 5.) Anna Muzychuk (Slovenia, 2456, 4.0) 6.) Anna Ushenina (Ukraine, 2502, 4.0) 7.) Hou Yifan (China, 2523, 4.0) 8.) Elisabeth Paehtz (Germany, 2457, 3.5) 9.) Alisa Galliamova (Russia, 2468, 3.5) 10.) Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria, 2481 3.5).

Meanwhile, here are two young ladies making waves in the chess world. One thing in common between them is that they are both very young and talented and anyone of them can become world champion.

Hou Yifan, who is only 13, was seeded first in the North Ural tournament. She had a disappointing performance as she scored only four points. However, that should not distract us from the fact that she is a chess phenomenon.

Between the April 2006 and July 2006 FIide rating lists, Hou gained an impressive 190 rating points from a rating of 2298 to a rating of 2488. She is currently China’s youngest ever women’s national champion and has an Elo of 2523 as of July 2007.

Koneru Humpy, 20 years old, now has an Elo rating of 2575 and experts are saying that she will reach the 2600 rating in due time. Only Judit Polgar is rated higher.

A true child prodigy, Humpy is the youngest woman player to achieve grandmaster (not just WGM) beating Judit’s record by three months. She was the 10-Under, 12-Under and 14-Under champion in the past and was the world junior champion in 2002.

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