Harika happy to grab bronze at Worlds

GM Dronavalli Harika, fresh from her third consecutive World Championship bronze medal victory, says that it takes some time to sink the semifinal defeat against China’s Tan Zhongyi in the Armageddon tie-break in Tehran last week-end.

Dronavalli Harika with the World championship bronze medal at her residence in Hyderabad on Monday.   -  V.V. Subrahmanyam

GM Dronavalli Harika, fresh from her third consecutive World Championship bronze medal victory, says that it takes some time to sink the semifinal defeat against China’s Tan Zhongyi in the Armageddon tie-break in Tehran last week-end.

“But, I have no regrets. It is harsh, definitely. Honestly, I thought this was the closest I thought I was to realising to the dream of being a world champion for the way I was playing so confidently and fighting back consistently. The way I was fought back in key moments right through the event was immensely satisfying,” Harika explained in an exclusive chat with Sportstar at her residence here on Monday.

The 26-year-old Harika quipped as if the Worlds bronze was destined to be hers forever, given “her consistency in winning it three times in-a-row”.

“I thought there would be some interesting stories to tell after this Worlds, if only I were to win the title. But it eluded once more. But again, there are no regrets. I am happy to be back with another medal rather than return empty-handed which would have been dubbed as a disaster,” a smiling World No. 7 remarked.

“May be, I have to be stronger. There is always scope to improve at any level and I am no exception. I am sure one day the World championship will be mine,” she said.

“I can vouch no player in the World chess championship has this kind of history of three consecutive bronze medals. I am proud of this record,” she pointed out.

Is there anything which you still feel lacking to clinch the World title? “I would put it this way. I don’t enter any World championship saying that I have to win in this edition. There are so many factors involved. You need a stroke of luck too. If you remember in the tie-break, the toss to choose the colour (Tai preferred black pieces with which only a draw was enough for her to enter the final) was a huge factor at the decisive moment. Even if I were to be given the option, I would have opted for the same colour for the obvious reason,” Harika explained.

“I was very confident of a win in the semifinal. I never thought of the defeat. Yes, it was a contest which was taking a heavy toll in terms of pressure. Everything happened quickly, even before I could realise in the tie-break,” she recalled.

“Yes, in terms of experience in a World championship, I feel I have handled the pressure factor pretty well. There was no panic at any stage. I simply enjoyed the challenges as they unfolded on the board and was always fighting back in the key moments,” the champion performer said.

“In fact, in every bronze medal effort there was something new to learn. I think this is what makes one a different player as fresh targets are set,” Harika observed.

Reflecting on her game, the Grandmaster says that she would work hard to be a much better player in the men’s section, especially in closed events and win some big titles.

What pleased you the most after the third Worlds bronze? “The kind of recognition from the people… I am really glad that so many followed my games and there were so many tweets. In a way, I think it is recognition for the kind of hard work (of five hours each before and after each game) I had put in, which apparently they were not aware. It is a great feeling when someone walks across to pat you on your achievement,” she explained.

“I dedicate this bronze to my grandmother Koganti Sudeshna who has been such an inspiration to me since my childhood. Remember it is never easy to win three back-to-back bronze medals and even she acknowledges this,” remarked the champion.