Great to see sporting world returning to normalcy: Harika

After finishing runner-up in online Women’s Speed Chess, World No. 9 Harika is travelling to Russia for the World Cup.

Dronavalli Harika moved into the semifinals of the Women’s Speed Chess Championship.

After finishing runner-up in online Women’s Speed Chess, World No. 9 Harika is travelling to Russia for the World Cup.   -  Special Arrangement

It proved a profitable month of working-from-home for Dronavalli Harika. By finishing runner-up at the Women’s Speed Chess Championship on Saturday, she became richer by Rs. 9.28 lakh.

Her superb performance would also be a huge morale-booster ahead of the World Cup, starting in Sochi, Russia, on July 10. “I am glad that I could do well in a strong tournament like Speed Chess, in which most of the best players took part,” Harika told Sportstar on Monday. “It is disappointing that I lost in the final to Hou Yifan, but it felt nice that I could put up a strong fight.”

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She fought well against her Chinese opponent, who is the world’s second-strongest female player of all time. She had gone into the lead early on and staged a splendid fightback when she was considerably behind towards the end.

Harika was troubled by technical issues during the final. “I lost the Internet connectivity for a while because of power failure and that cost me a game, but in online tournaments one should always be prepared for such problems,” said the World No. 9. “It was an excellent tournament for me really, as I was able to defeat some strong players like World blitz champion Kateryan Lagno and former World champion Alexandra Kosteniuk.”

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Looking ahead to the World Cup, she said she was just happy that she would be able to get back into a tournament hall once again. “It is great to see chess and the rest of the sporting world is returning to normalcy,” she said.

“My last tournament was in Switzerland in March last year. I got home just before the entire world went under lockdown following the coronavirus outbreak. The last one year has not been easy, as I realised that chess need not always be the priority in life.”

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