Humpy expects stiff competition in Chess Olympiad

This is the strongest-ever Indian women’s team for the Olympiad featuring 150 countries and to be held in Georgia from September 23, and there is a definite chance to put up an improved performance, says GM Koneru Humpy.

Indian women's chess team preparing for the Olympiad later this month with head coach Jacob Aagaard in Hyderabad on Saturday.   -  V.V. Subrahmanyam

This is the strongest-ever Indian women’s team for the Olympiad featuring 150 countries and to be held in Georgia from September 23, and there is a definite chance to put up an improved performance, says GM Koneru Humpy.

Humpy, who is attending the national camp organised by the All India Chess Federation of India, here, along with GMs Dronavalli Harika, Eesha Karvade, Padmini Rout and Tania Sachdev, informed ‘Sportstar’ that this is a very important camp to have the right kind of team spirit ahead of such a major event and understand each other better and work for the common goal of India winning a medal which is, however, not going to be easy.

“In fact, this is the third such camp ever for an Olympiad for women and it is great to have Danish GM Jacob Aagaard as the coach. We have a very good seeding and that itself shows the kind of expectation the critics can have from us,” says the lead player, who will be playing in her third Olympiad after a gap of 12 years.

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Humpy feels that the biggest challenge should come from Russia, Georgia, Ukraine and China, which is interestingly fielding a mix of young and experienced players.

“In terms of expectations, we do hope to do well. Yes, personally, I am back in the competitive circuit after a long gap and, even, Harika is coming off after a break from her marriage. We will see how things shape up,” she said.

For her part, Harika, who will be playing in her eighth Olympiad having made debut at the age of 13, says that the preparations are different as we will not be aware of the opponents though we know which teams we will be facing. “So, the focus in the camp will be on improving your own game in all aspects during the six-hour sessions daily,” she said.

"Yes, the first target will be to improve upon the fifth position in the last edition and, also, the best-ever fourth place in 2012. The mood is positive and if everything goes well we should come back with a medal, which is one thing we all will surely cherish,” the three-time world championship bronze medallist concluded.