Grandmaster Koneru Humpy Becomes First Indian Woman to Win the World Rapid Chess Championship
Chess Grandmaster Koneru Humpy claimed her maiden world title on Saturday when she won the FIDE (International Chess Federation) World Rapid Chess Championships held in Moscow. Hailing from Vijaywada, Andhra Pradesh, the 32-year-old is the second Indian ever to win this title after Grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand claimed it in 2017 in the men’s category. This year, she won the title alongside Norwegian Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen.
This major victory is a stunning comeback for Koneru, who only just resumed playing chess last year, after a two-year, post-childbirth hiatus from 2016. Furthermore, she also won the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix series earlier this month and picked up 30 Elo points to rank as World No. 3 after re-entering competitive chess.
“Honestly, I was expecting at the most a top-three finish as there was no time for the preparations too for this event. Worked a bit on the Openings and I am glad to have pulled it off,” Koneru told The Hindu. Her coach worked around her new schedule as she made a comeback into playing chess professionally while juggling the added responsibilities of being a mother; he, too told The Hindu that she hardly found the time to prepare for this event in a dedicated manner, but the two interacted daily and discussed winning tips.
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Winning this world title is also significant for Humpy, who is more comfortable with her mastery in chess’ classical format. “Rapid and Blitz [formats] are not my cup of tea,” she had told The Hindu before leaving for Moscow.
The winner of the women’s rapid was determined by a final playoff that ended in Koneru beating China’s Lei Tingjie. Next up, she wants to chase her ultimate dream: to win the world championship in the classical format.
“Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for more to finish off my year,” she told The Hindu, even while reminding that she will continue to chase her ultimate dream of winning the world championship in the classical format. “It is not going to be easy for sure and this World championship is different from that. But I will continue to give my best shot to realize that goal too.”