For D. Harika, the three-time World championship bronze medallist, the FIDE Grand Swiss tournament in Douglas (Isle of Man), said to be one of the the strongest ever, turned out to be memorable as she got the coveted ‘best women’s player’ prize.

In a tournament which featured some of the best of men’s players, current World champion Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand, Harika held her own to tie for the top place along with Saduakassova Dinara of Kazakhstan. But the Indian got the winner’s trophy by virtue of better tie-break score.

“This is a very significant achievement as I look ahead to fulfilling my ultimate dream of being a World champion,” said Harika in a chat with Sportstar on Tuesday.

The 28-year-old, who got the Padma Shri this year, said scoring 23 ELO points to break into the top 10 in the world gave her more satisfaction than the special prize.

“To sustain some sort of consistency right through this very demanding tournament is something I am really pleased about as I had to play higher-rated opponents who had an ELO rating of 150-plus more than me,” said Harika, the only Indian woman besides Sowmya Swaminathan to participate in the tournament.

“I had a very disappointing 2018 and my ranking slipped in December when I lost 30 points (2470). That also meant going down to No. 18 in world rankings. To improve my ELO to 2518 and attain the World No. 9 ranking with this performance, I feel it is very creditable,” Harika said.

“All the hard work has been paying off and I am happy with the way I have been playing. This is the best world-ranking after my personal best of five in 2016.” and I am determined to keep improving,” said Harika, adding that marriage had not affected her game. “In fact, now two families are eager for better results on the 64 squares.”

“I didn’t do well in the last September Grand Prix but hope to do well in the Grands Prix in December and March next,” said a confident 2016 FIDE Grand Prix winner.