Hou Yifan and Humpy Koneru to test strength of women’s brave new world
Leonard Barden
Friday 11 March 2011 12.55 GMT

The world championship for men is beset by controversy, yet top women are enjoying a financial bonanza. Though female players have competed for meagre rewards in the past, each of the six just finished Grand Prix tournaments had €40,000 (£24,981) prize money.

The venues were in Armenia, China, Mongolia, Qatar, Russia and Turkey, the Eastern heartland for the International Chess Federation (Fide). Hou Yifan,16 and already world champion, won the series but the really important result was last weekend’s final event at Doha, Qatar, where India’s Humpy Koneru qualified for a 10-game world title match against the Chinese teenager.

This outcome looked unlikely half-way through the tournament, as Elena Danielian made a flying start with five straight wins. The Armenian slowed in the second half while Koneru finished strongly and caught her in the final round.

Apart from Hungary’s all-time No1 Judit Polgar, who stopped competing in female tournaments at age 12, Hou Yifan and Koneru are the best on the planet and natural rivals. They met over just two games in the semi-final of the 2010 world title knock-out, so the longer match will be a true test of strength between representatives of ambitious nations.

India’s Vishy Anand holds the world men’s championship, so Koneru will aim both to emulate her compatriot and to prove a point to her chess federation’s officials whose backing for her has been lukewarm.

More here.

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