Koneru Humpy 'relieved' after qualifying for Candidates tournament

She finished runner-up in the FIDE Women's Grand Prix despite pulling out from final leg in Gibraltar.

Koneru Humpy finished with 293 points despite competing in only two legs of the Women's Grand Prix series.

In her long, successful career, Koneru Humpy has done remarkable things.

Still, what she did on Wednesday night merits attention.

She finished second in the overall standings of the FIDE Women's Grand Prix and qualified for the Candidates tournament. What makes the feat special is that she did it without playing in one of the three legs. Each player could choose to play in three of the four legs in the series.

Humpy’s pick as the third leg was the Gibraltar event, which concluded on Wednesday. But she chose to skip it because of her concerns about travelling in the time of a pandemic.
When she played in the first two legs of the tournament, at Skolkovo (Russia) and Monaco, the coronavirus hadn’t raised its ugly head yet. She had won the first leg and was the runner-up in the second.

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She had 293 points from those two legs. If she could finish inside the top three in the third, she could have won the Grand Prix, but she had, of course, chosen not to play.

She, however, finished runner-up in the Grand Prix series to Russia’s Alexandra Goryachkina, who scored 398 points. The Russian had chosen Lausanne as the third leg, which had taken place in March last year, shortly before the world was locked down.

Humpy has no regret that she did not go to Gibraltar. And she is relieved that she has qualified for the Candidates, which is scheduled to be held next year.

“I was closely following the Gibraltar tournament and am relieved and happy that the results went my way,” she told Sportstar over phone.

“It feels great that I have qualified for the Candidates with my Grand Prix performance alone.”

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Even if she didn’t, there still would have been chances to qualify by doing well at the World Cup or Grand Swiss or by the virtue of her Elo rating. “But I could not have taken anything for granted and I could have missed out too,” she pointed out. “Yes, I was taking a risk by not going to Gibraltar. But I had to take that decision. Life is not just about playing chess, you know.”

The winner of the Candidates tournament will earn the right to challenge the World chess champion.

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