Indian chess star Koneru Humpy's next goal: A world title!

Updated: 30 December, 2019 07:37 IST | Manisha Mohite | Mumbai

Koneru Humpy's unexpected triumph to become India's first women World Rapid champion has once again opened possibilities of winning a World Chess Championship

Koneru Humpy
Koneru Humpy

Once again, it was uncompromising chess and fighting spirit which finally netted India's Koneru Humpy her first women's World Rapid title which incidentally is also a historic first for India. For a player, who had taken a two-year sabbatical from chess after child birth, started the event as the 13th seed, in a not-so-favourite format (Rapid), the title was both unexpected and unanticipated.

India also joins the select band of countries, Russia and Ukraine who have won the Rapid titles in both the Open and Women's Category, Viswanathan Anand having won the Open title 16 times. For Humpy, 32, the final day in Moscow was quite dramatic as she was trailing in fifth place after eight rounds, half a point behind the four leaders Irina Bulmaga, Tan Zhongyi, Lei Tingjie and Mariya Muzychuk.

Lady luck however smiled benevolently on Humpy as Lei Tingjie, the sole leader in the final 12th round crashed to defeat against Atalik and Humpy spurning a draw offer, triumphed against Zhongyi. This lead to a three-way tie for a top place between Tingjie, Humpy and Ekaterina Atalik.

Tingjie just needed just a draw in the final round to win the title after Zhongyi lost but Atalik came up with the big win to deny the Chinese. This meant that three players were now tied for the top place—Tingjie, Humpy, and Atalik, all scoring 9/12.

Humpy and Tingjie had better ties and had to play two Blitz games to decide the winner. Humpy lost the first game with white pieces but roared back magnificently with the Black pieces to force a tie again.

In the Armageddon, Humpy had Black pieces and four minutes as against five minutes for her opponent. Humpy got into a winning position but settled for the draw by repetition of moves as it was sufficient for her to earn the title. Humpy has been on a roll this year having won the Skolkovo Women's Grand Prix and a second place at the Monaco Grand Prix.

It was in 2007 that Humpy overtook Susan Polgar's Elo rating of 2577 to become the second highest rated woman player in the world. She also became only the second woman in the history of chess to breach the Elo2600 barrier that year but somehow despite being a firm favourite, the tag 'World Champion' always eluded her.

Now, with fine performances this year, she has climbed the rating ladder to be ranked third in the world and once again opened possibilities of winning the Women's World Championship which has been a cherished dream!

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First Published: 30 December, 2019 07:06 IST

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