Humpy, Harika, Vaishali set for Speed Chess Championship

The second edition of the tournament features 16 players, including World No. 1 Hou Yifan of China and the Russian trio of Kateryna Lagno, Alexandra Kosteniuk and Valentina Gunina.

Koneru Humpy (in picture), Dronavalli Harika and R. Vaishali could face some of the biggest names in chess.   -  Special Arrangement

India’s three strongest female players are all set to make their best moves as yet another high profile online chess tournament kicks off on Saturday.

Koneru Humpy, Dronavalli Harika and R. Vaishali could face some of the biggest names in the game at the Women’s Speed Chess championship, organised by FIDE and chess.com.

The second edition of the tournament features 16 players, including World No. 1 Hou Yifan of China, the Russian trio of Kateryna Lagno, Alexandra Kosteniuk and Valentina Gunina, Ukraine’s Anna Muzychuk and Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria. The knock-out event will have games of varying time controls, from one to five minutes.

READ| Anand to match wits with Aamir, Chahal

Humpy, the reigning women’s World champion in rapid chess, said the format made the tournament unpredictable. “Anything can happen in a knock-out tournament,” she told Sportstar. “Last year’s event was held over four legs, so you could play right through the event till the two finalists were decided.”

Humpy had finished runner-up in the fourth leg and seventh overall. “I had played with no expectations and I wasn’t too keen about playing online chess then,” she said. “This time, I have been preparing for the tournament by playing against the computer.”

READ| National U-18 chess: Bhavesh stuns Prithu

Though she is one of the eight players seeded directly for the tournament – Harika and Vaishali came through winning qualifying events – she is taking nothing for granted. “It is a very strong tournament with so many fine players,” she said. “I am glad that three Indians are in the fray.”

Humpy will take on Bibisara Assaubayeva of Kazakhstan in the opening round on Saturday. Harika will face a stronger challenge on June 16, against Kosteniuk, a former World champion. Vaishali too has a tough opponent, in the form of China’s Lei Tingjie.

The final will be played on July 3. All the games will be streamed live on YouTube.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :