Chess: No clear favourites at Kochi

Indian Express
November 18, 2004

NO CLEAR FAVOURITES AT KOCHI

Remis means draw in French and the word is used by most of the
European chess players to signify the result. And it is ‘remis’
(equality) as the 43rd World Junior and 21st World Junior Girls Chess
Championship action begins at Hotel Casino on Friday offering a level
playing field in both sections. Though in FIDE rating points, some of
the top seeds are more equal than others, there is no clear favourite
for the Kochi edition of the event in either section. You may not
find a Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan), Sergey Karjakin (Ukraine), Bu
Xiangzhi (China), Hika Nakamura (USA) or Luke McShane (England) in
this World junior. These are names that have hit the headlines in the
last few years by antiquating records and are at the top of the
rating list for juniors. So the top seed in the open section Ferenc
Berkes of Hungary at 2630 may be ahead of someone like Tigran L
Petrosian of Armenia, who at 2539, is seeded fourth, but both of
them, who are room mates at Casino here, insist that not too much
should be read into the rating aspect. Humpy, who has come for this
event with her sister Chandra Hawsa, who is playing in the World
junior girls, her father cum coach Koneru Ashok and mother, missed
the opening ceremony but looked relaxed as she is free from the load
of expectations by playing in the open section. “I am playing with an
open mind,” says the strongest-ever Indian woman player. “I don’t
look at results here. It is just another tournament for me,” adds
Humpy. In the girls section too, there is hardly anything to choose
between the top three players at least. Ekaterina Korburt (Russia,
rating 2400), Elisabeth Paehtz (Germany, 2398) and Dronavalli Harika
(India, 2391) are all Woman Grandmasters and may consider themselves
as front-runners. However, Paehtz feels some of the competitors have
a definite advantage and they are certainly not Europeans, according
to her. Apart from Harika, the one Asian who could emerge from the
pack, is Zhang Jilin of China, seededs seventh here and for whom this
is her third visit to India. Jilin is the junior champion of China
and is eager to assert her country’s supremacy in women’s chess. “I
would like to repeat the success of Zie Jun and Zhu Chen (World women
champions),” says the Chinese girl.

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