WWC2011-7: Humpy falls again… down 3

International Arbiter Carol Jarecki starts the clock for Hou Yifan in Game #7. Photo by Anastasiya Karlovich for FIDE.

International Arbiter Carol Jarecki starts the clock for Hou Yifan in Game #7 against Koneru Humpy.

In a must-win situation, Koneru Humpy of India was certainly looking to steal a game with a surprise in the opening. Eschewing the Sicilian once again, Humpy tried a peculiar line (9…Qd7) against the Ruy Lopez, but was not able to gain favorable complications.

Hou Yifan in a jubilant mood
after opening up a commanding match lead.

China’s Hou Yifan played precisely as Humpy was looking for an opening in the white camp. In fact it was white that had the slight advantage and in the course, won a pawn. Humpy had chances to save the game, but if she had to fight for a draw then her opening experience would certainly be deemed a failure. However, after fighting for a drawing position, Humpy started to make several errors in a row, lost another pawn and her position became hopeless.

With today’s win, Hou has virtually assured a successful defense of her crown. At age 17, she will certainly have a long career. Perhaps more talks of Judit Polgar facing Hou Yifan will surface. Hou may be another year away from being able to challenge the “Queen of Chess”. In addition, Humpy is still very young and there are many other contenders.

End of the line for Humpy?

For Humpy, one may get the impression that the window is closing on her championship aspirations. Just as the Chicago Bulls’ Michael Jordan prevented a number of Hall-of-Fame players from winning NBA championships, Hou seems to be the barrier for Humpy. Chess history is replete with stories of players who had trouble beating an opponent. Mikhail Tal used to lose consistently to Viktor Korchnoi and Garry Kasparov’s score over Alexei Shirov is one of legend.

At age 24, she is approaching the time where she has to think seriously about her future. If she is unable to salvage a credible result in last three games of the match, what will the future hold? Will she continue in her quest? Will she take studies? Will she get married? The next three games are crucial.

Perhaps the Indian star can win the next game and salvage some respectability. While her chances in this match are grim, Humpy has been a class act the entire match and she will come out fighting.

Photos by Anastasiya Karlovich for FIDE.

2011 Women’s World Chess Championship
November 14th-27th, 2011 (Triana, Albania)

Drum Coverage
Official Site


  1. Daaim,

    Do you see the possibility of a woman becoming the World (Men’s) Chess Champion? Playing in women’s only tournaments will not improve their chess. Judit has played the men at the highest levels but is too old for the chance of the title. What is next for Hou, more open tournaments to prepare for Judit?

    1. Jeffrey,

      Million-dollar question. It has been asked and debated ad infinitum. I honestly believe that women will not break into the upper-echelon of chess with the self-imposed apartheid. The level of competition does not allow them to sharpen their skills and the women’s titles should be eliminated… it marginalizes them to an inferior status to men. We are chess players and unlike many competitive sports, there are not physical requirements in chess.

      You do have some women playing in open tournaments, but very infrequently. Some argue that the women’s circuit provides a chance for women to make an income which otherwise would not be available. A women’s Olympiad is OK since all but a few women (GMs Judit Polgar and Pia Cramling) would not make the top five players in their nations. However, for open tournaments, women should compete with men and the improvement will be rapid.

      Judit (and her older sisters Zsuzsa and Zsophia) started out playing men and never developed the psychological block that women have today in playing men. In fact the advantage was Judit’s. At age 11 and 12, she would come to the board with her teddy bear and then proceed to crush strong players mercilessly with mating attacks. They would go away demoralized. She has gone on to become a top ten player with a peak of 2735.

  2. I must agree that women sort of shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to equality by having these Girl only championships. But please keep in mind Hou Yifan is still just a kid…and any boy her age would be quite proud of his accomplishments. The Polgars are a great example of what Girls can accomplish as well. (I think its quite clear to the world at large what I think of the Polgars.) Girls have nothing to be afraid of. They’re great. Great match. Congrats Hou…you were the better player this time around. Very enjoyable to watch…and I hope Humpy bounces back. I doubt she’s finished yet.

    1. Yes… we know what you think of the Polgars. 🙂 Your art fits in nicely and adds quite a bit. Keep up the good work!

      From what I have read, Hou works very hard at chess and has an appetite. I’m not sure about Humpy… she’s so hard to read. I like Humpy, but there is something missing. That’s three matches she has lost to Hou. With Hou being only 17, it may be tough for Humpy to break through.

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