Harika: ‘I like playing in the open category’

World No.9 woman chess player from India is eyeing an improve in the rankings through Abu Dhabi International Open Chess Tournament starting next week.

Dronavalli Harika, who won three consecutive bronze in the World Chess Championships in 2012, 2015 and 2017 respectively, is keen to improve her rankings on the 64 squares   -  Special Arrangement

Dronavalli Harika — who won three consecutive bronze in the World Chess Championships in 2012, 2015 and 2017 respectively — is keen to improve her rankings on the 64 squares, ahead of the Abu Dhabi International Open Chess Tournament starting next week. The 26-year-old silent assassin from Hyderabad, also the highest-rated woman chess player from India (World No. 9), will be looking to break into the top five.

“Most of the major events are scheduled next year. The highly competitive Tata Steel Open, followed by Women’s Grand Prix and the World Championship is also likely to be held around the same time,” Harika says in an exclusive chat with Sportstar.

“I like playing in the open category (both men and women) tournaments as it features some of the strongest brains. It will help me improve my game. Like in any sport, there is no end to learning and especially chess, with so much of database available about players and their games. One has to constantly evolve,” says the former world junior champion.

Some of the major events lined up for Harika later this year include the Isle Of Man champonship in Great Britain (September) and the European Club Cup in October .

Being rated as the best woman player in the Reykjavik Open in April this year, Harika is confidence personified when the talk veers around the World Championship. “I repeat I was closest to winning it this year, when I had to eventually settle for bronze. But again, you tend to learn new things from such defeats and prepare for fresh challenges ahead,” she smiles.

“I feel I have had a decent year so far. I am happy with the overall improvement in my game. I feel stronger as a player,” says Harika, who is now used to travelling alone, but she still takes her grandmother, Koganti Sudeshna, along when participating in major events. Her grandmother accompanied her in several tournaments towards the beginning of her career.