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Humpy Koneru Wins with Black Against Cramling, Hou Yifan and Maia Chiburdanidze Drew
Saturday, 07 March 2009
The first round was played with many interesting game. Hou Yifan hold against Maia Chiburdanidze and avoided a second consecutive loss after Dresden. Humpy Koneru scored a crucial victory with black pieces against Pia Cramling. Local hero Betül Cemre Yıldız was close to producing the upset of the day but Antoaneta Stefanova escaped and managed to win. Martha Fierro was another player who ran through fear tunnel but win in the end against Zeinab Mamedyarova. Xue Zhao started well by converting the development advantage against her compatrot Shen Yang swiftly. Detailed report below.
Ladies were not intending to make a quiet start and only one game ended as a draw, as last year since none of the games ended as a draw back in 2008.

Koneru Humpy scored a crucial win against Pia Cramling with black pieces in the Queen's Gambit Ragozin but which transposed from the Nimzo-Indian. Black established a firm control on e4 and when white tried to make the breakthrough it looked it did not work. After all black pieces got activated white had nothing to do but give the exchange away and then black went on to win.

img_1388.jpgThe game between the living legend and the future legend, namely Maia Chiburdanidze and Hou Yifan ended as a draw but not without blood. Black managed to find a breakthough with h4 after loss of a few tempi on white's part. It looked dangerous for white but Chinese prodigy was able to save the draw and avoided a second consecutive loss against her experienced opponent. Maia Chiburdanidze praised her opponent's defensive skills: "The game was very interesting and I had some chances to win. I think my young opponent defended this difficult endgame very well".

img_1385.jpgThe game between Betül Cemre Yıldız and Antoaneta Stefanova nearly produced the sensation of the first round. The Turkish youngster played very accurately at a point and was close to win but then started lapsing against the ex-world champion. Until giving back the exchange on e3 white seemed to be winning. The position was drawish then but white mishandled the endgame and lost unfortunately. The two players already faced each other in Calvia 2004 and Yıldız drew with Stefanova then world champion. Stefanova was remembering the game perfectly and recalled"She really played very well. I can say that she had improved a lot. It was really a tough game for me".

img_1373.jpgBlack had the better chances in Martha Fierro-Zeinab Mamedyarova game. However, black erred later on. After f3 black was already in a difficult position and white trapped the black queen on h4 in the end. 

The clash of the Chinese players Zhao Xue and Shen Yang ended as 29-move victory for Zhao Xue thanks to the lack of development for black. Both players agreed in the post-game press conference that the knight moves for black was unnecessary and after Nb5 everything was over.



Elina Danielian started with a a victory to the İstanbul Grand Prix against Marie Sebag where she sacrificed an exchange for mobilizing the queen's side pawns. It was already practically difficult for white to defend after the exchange of the queens and black managed to win more pawns on king's side and went on to win.

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