Istanbul (Turkey):Grandmaster and World number two Koneru Humpy starts as the rating favourite in the IS Bankasi Attaturk Fide Women Grand Prix, starting on Saturday.
Top women players in the world will compete in the event and even though Humpy is the top seed, she is likely to face stiff challenge from the likes of Yifan Hao of China and Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria.
The event will be played on a round robin basis with 12 players clashing in 11 rounds.
At the inauguration ceremony, Humpy drew number 12 which means that she will play five white and six black in the tournament.
She is set to meet GM Pia Cramling of Sweden in the opener and will have black pieces against a tough opponent who is amongst the first few women players to get the Grandmaster title.
The Indian with 2621 rating points to her credit is the second highest rated woman in the world after Judit Polgar of Hungary, who doesn't play in women events.
The event is a part of the new world championship cycle and there will be four such events in 2009-2010. Each event carries a total prize pool of 40000 Euros with 6500 Euros reserved for the winner.
In addition, points will be given for every place and three best results of each player will be taken in to account to determine the overall winner who will play the world championship match in 2011.
The winner in each event will get 120 points. Yifan Hao will be the cynosure of all eyes. The Chinese teenager is making waves with her brilliant performance for some years now and will be a force to reckon with here.
Yifan, in fact, had knocked out Humpy in the semifinals of the last world championship at Kabardino-Balkaria region in Russia and Humpy will be looking forward to settle scores here.
Yifan is the second seed here and will take on former world champion Maia Chiburdanidze of Georgia in the first round.
Another former world champion Antoaneta Stefanova is back in form if ratings are any indication. At 2557, the Bulgarian cannot have any complaints and her nonchalant style has always been her biggest strength.
Besdies Humpy, Yifan, Antoaneta and Maia the Chinese duo of Zhao Xue and Shen Yang will also be in contention for top honours.
For the chess buffs across the world a lively contest a far cry from perfect chess resulting in many draws like in ongoing Linares super tournament is well on cards.