Koneru Humpy wins Cairns Cup, reclaims world No. 2 rank

Reflecting on her game, Koneru Humpy is happy with the way things are going and is looking forward to the Grand Prix in Italy.

Koneru Humpy won the Cairns Cup title with 6 points from nine rounds. [File photo]   -  Special Arrangement

Playing for the first time in the second edition of the Cairns Cup, said to be one of the toughest women’s events, World rapid chess champion Koneru Humpy re-asserted her supremacy in style by winning the title with 6 points from nine rounds and bag the $45,000 winner’s purse in St. Louis on Monday.

“This is a really strong field with an average rating of ELO 2500+. There is no way you could have taken anyone lightly like in any other international event as the field comprised two Americans and the rest top eight players including reigning world champion Ju Wenjun featuring in the round-robin format,” 32-year-old Humpy told Sportstar from the US.

“Well, winning Cairns Cup is also a special feeling for it does remind that the World Championship title was no flash in the pan. The toughest match was against Alexandra Kousteniuk which was a long battle in the seventh round and I could manage to keep my unbeaten record against her in five games.”

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“It was a close race for the top spot as till eighth round when Wenjun lost her game and I managed to draw my game giving me a slender half-a-point lead which eventually proved decisive.”

Interestingly, in the final round, Humpy drew with GM Dronavalli Harika, who finished sixth with 4.5 points.

“The best part of this victory is that I will be gaining crucial five ELO points and moving back to world No. 2 ranking. So, slowly I am unchanging towards my goal of being No.1 one day,” she said.

Happy and looking ahead

Reflecting on her game, Humpy says she is happy with the way things are going with constant guidance from her father-cum-coach Koneru Ashok.

“The next big event is the Grand Prix in Italy this May and then I will be playing in the PSPB tournaments as part of my commitment to my employers,” says the Chief Manager (HR) in ONGC.

What are the targets? “Since I am leading the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix Series right now, I want to finish it off on a high and then aim to qualify for the Candidates scheduled later this year,” says Humpy even while expressing the new challenges she is facing off the 64-squares by way of leaving her growing baby back at home and travelling around for the chess competitions.

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