Harika - Going for glory with guts and gumption

Harika started in the 122nd place and finished 83rd after scoring 5.5 points from 11 rounds. Her display was worth the women’s top prize of $10,000.

Harika Dronavalli after winning the women's top prize at Fide Chess.com Grand Swiss tournament.   -  Twitter/ Harika

Rarely does a female chess player get to play 11 Grandmasters in as many rounds of a competition. And to do well against such quality opposition is considered highly improbable.

Remarkably, Grandmaster D. Harika made the most of this rare opportunity with her strongest-ever performance in the just concluded FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss at Douglas, Isle of Man.

The invitational field attracted some of the strongest players, including the World champion Magnus Carlsen and second ranked Fabiano Caruana. The depth of the field can be gauged from the fact that, out of 154 players in the fray, 131 were GMs, two Woman GMs and 16 International Masters.

Harika, highest rated among 18 ladies, started in the 122nd place and finished 83rd after scoring 5.5 points from 11 rounds. Her display was worth the women’s top prize of $10,000.

Rated 2495, Harika performed at a never-before high level of 2651 and gained 23 points that should take her back into the World’s top-10 list.

Known for her stubborn defence and ability to draw far more games than win decisively against quality opposition, Harika showed the stuff she is made of this past fortnight.

Facing far stronger rivals, rated between 2629 and 2691, Harika won twice, lost twice and drew seven times. Her victims included Mircea-Emilian Parligras (Romania, 2629) and Alex Bachmann (Paraguay, 2629). She lost to compatriot K. Sasikiran (2675) and Alexander Moiseenko (Ukraine, 2635). Her strongest performance in the drawn games came against Nils Grandelius (Sweden, 2691).

"It’s been an incredible couple of weeks playing the FIDE Grand Swiss tournament. Feels good to be back in the World’s top-10 and looking forward to working even harder and carrying this form in future," was how Harika expressed her thoughts on twitter.

Harika has the grit and the gumption to perform at the highest level. After all, three World championship bronze medals stand testimony to her capabilities. A close look at Harika’s latest display surely reinforces the belief that her best clearly lies ahead.