Tirana (Albania): Grand Master Koneru Humpy was held to a draw by defending champion Yifan Hou of China in the opening game of the Women`s World Chess championship that got underway on Tuesday.
Playing white, Humpy tried very hard but Yifan was quite up to the task in fighting the right defense and the hard fought game was eventually drawn after 80 moves.
With nine games still to come in the 10-game match, Humpy will now play black in the second game ahead of the first rest in the 200000 Euros championship.
Catalan opening was the preferred choice of Humpy in the first game but Yifan showcased her deep preparation too. The middle game was complicated and when Humpy decided to liquidate the position she retained a small but lasting advantage.
Yifan had to go through a long grind but in the end she managed to steer the game to a quiet rook and pawns endgame with a pawn less. The Chinese had no difficulty in demonstrating the right technique to hold the game together even though she suffered a long time.
"It was very interesting in the middle game. The position was not clear, there were some possibilities of the endgames where White could have an edge, but the way Black handled the position, I did not get much of an advantage," Humpy said after the game.
Asked whether she thought it was advantageous to play white in the first game of a match, Humpy replied candidly: "Anyway, we will play the equal amount of games with both colors, so it doesn`t matter that much."
The players are playing the match in a translucent glass chamber and it is the first time that both Humpy and Yifan are playing under such conditions.
"Usually at the tournaments the players can see the spectators, but here it was completely blank and seemed to me like there are only two of us in the playing hall, although there were people watching our game on the other side of the glass," Humpy noted.
Opening her first card vis-a-vis preparation for the match, Humpy revealed that she is here with Grand Master Sandipan Chanda as her second.
"Apart from him there are other players from abroad to help me, but right now I don`t want to reveal it," she said.