Khanty Mansiysk: Top rated Grandmaster Koneru Humpy started off with a win with black to stake her claim in the round of 32 in the first round of world women`s chess championship that got underway here.
Up against Denise Frick of South Africa in the opener, Humpy showed her class in all departments of the game and even though the Indian was stretched she was never in any serious troubles in the first game of the first mini-match that concluded here.
The all-Indian affair of the first round between Soumya Swaminathan and D Harika ended in an easy draw which will give a moral boost to the former in the return game.
While there were no great surprises in the first game of the first round, the second game to be played on Monday is likely to bring many of the higher ranked under pressure as they drew. The list includes Harika who either has to win or force herself in to the tiebreaker the following day.
The championship is back to the knock out format wherein 64 top woman players across the globe take part fighting for a total prize pool of 450000 USD. Humpy and Harika were ousted in the semis in the last such championship.
It turned out to be a tough game for Humpy despite huge difference in ratings. The Indian started as an overwhelming favourite but Denise proved that she was not an easy nut to crack.
For the records it was a Sicilian Kann wherein Humpy had
to survive the early onslaught before she could get her counter play rolling on the queen side. As it happened, Denise fell way behind in controlling black`s play and caved in easily after losing a rook amidst complexities. The game lasted 50 moves.
In the return game now, Humpy just needs a draw to advance to the next round but the Indian is expected to push for another victory which will also help her get in shape for tougher 4 matches ahead.
For Harika it turned out to be a decent outing as well with black pieces as she had little to do against compatriot Soumya. Playing the black side of Berlin defense in the Ruy Lopez, Harika faced an early deviation that led to only minor complications in the middle game.
After the exchange of minor pieces and subsequently the queen, the players arrived at a level rook and minor piece endgame where the draw was a just result. The peace was signed in just 29 moves.
Amongst the higher ranked players, Viktorija Cmilyte of Lithuania and Marie Sebag were held to draws and they will feel the heat in the return games. Cmilyte ofcourse will be under more pressure as she will play with black pieces.