World rapid champion Koneru Humpy emerged triumphant at the Cairns Cup chess tournament following a draw against compatriot Dronavalli Harika in the ninth and final round in St. Louis, Missouri on Monday.
With this win, the 32-year old claimed her second title in the last two months.
Humpy, who was crowned world champion in the last week of December 2019, finished the tournament with 6 points. She would now be gaining five ELO rating points (the basis for international rankings), and is expected to move to no. 2 in the world rankings.
"I am very happy to have won such a strong tournament. It also reminds me that winning the world rapid title was no flash in the pan," said Humpy. after her win.
Humpy needed a draw in the last round to tie for the first place and be in contention for the top prize. She secured the draw late on Sunday after playing a solid line of Four knights opening against Harika.
Humpy received USD 45,000 for winning the title, in a tournament known to have one of the strongest fields.
World champion Wenjun Ju finished second with 5.5 points after winning her final round game against Russia's Alexandra Kosteniuk (5 points). Kosteniuk ended fourth in the tournament. Harika finished tied fifth with 4.5 points.
Humpy said her toughest match in the event was against former world champion Alexandra Kosteniuk in the seventh round. "It helped me keep my unbeaten record against her in five games," she said.
Her focus now will be to continue doing well in her upcoming events. "The next big event is the Grand Prix in Italy this May and then I will be playing in the PSPB tournaments in India," she added.
Humpy, who is leading the FIDE Women's Grand Prix Series right now, aims to qualify for the Candidates scheduled later this year.
In the tournament, she initially started with a win over 16-year old American Carissa Yip, but suffered a defeat in the second round to Mariya Muzychuk before bouncing back strongly. She then played a solid game to hold world champion Wenjun Ju and got the better of players like Nana Dzagnidze and Kosteniuk. A victory over Valentina Gunina then helped her pull ahead of the field.
Ninth round: Koneru Humpy drew with Dronavalli Harika; Valentina Gunina drew with Katernya Lagno; Alexandra Kosteniuk lost to Wenjun Ju; Irina Krush beat Nana Dzagnidze; Carissa Yip drew with Mariya Muzychuk.
1. Koneru Humpy - 6 points, 2. Wenjun Ju - 5.5 points, 3. Mariya Muzychuk - 5 points, 4. Alexandra Kosteniuk - 5 points, 5. D Harika - 4.5 points, 6. Katernya Lagno - 4.5 points, 7. Irina Krush - 4 points, 8. Carissa Yip - 4 points, 9. Nana Dzagnidze - 4 points, 10. Valentina Gunina - 2.5 points.