Koneru Humpy: Huge feeling to be a world champion

The 32-year-old says she played well in crunch games to clinch the World Women’s Rapid Championship title in Moscow.

Koneru Humpy: “To be a world champion in any format is definitely a dream for any chess player and I am no different.”

It is a dream come true for Koneru Humpy, finally!

For someone whom the great Viswanathan Anand tipped to be a potential world champion more than a decade ago, Humpy finally became one — and surprisingly in the World Women’s Rapid Championship in Moscow late on Saturday night, not a favourite format for her.

The 32-year-old from Vijayawada, arguably the best-ever women’s chess player from India, emerged winner in an intensely contested Championship which went down to the wire.

Reflecting on the historic triumph, Humpy also happens to be the first Indian woman player to win the World Rapid title, said she was not expecting to be the champion but at the most hoping for a top-three finish as she was only keen to improve her game in this format. “Frankly, rapid and blitz formats are not my cup of tea. But, I must say that I played some quality chess in crunch games in this Championship to clinch the title,” she said.

‘No pressure’

“There was no pressure at all but I did have a feeling that it was the best chance to have a go. I was tense definitely before the second game in the tie-breaker for there was no plus or minus here. The response as to be quick but I handled the given situation really well,” the champion explained.

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The ONGC officer is on a comeback trail after having taken a break of two years from competitive chess as she was blessed with a baby girl. “By all means, this win means a lot to me. It is a huge feeling to be a world champion. After all, I have been waiting for this to happen, though not certainly in this rapid format,” she said with a big smile.

“To be a world champion in any format is definitely a dream for any chess player and I am no different. That tag means a lot,” she added.

‘Different level’ of confidence

How significant was this win even as she still chased the classical format World Championship title? “In terms of confidence, it takes you to a different level though the format is totally different,” replied Humpy, whose previous best in this format among five appearances so far was a bronze in the 2012 edition.

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“But, again, it is a totally different challenge to chase that classical world title. For sure, I will continue to give my off my best to realise that one big goal,” said the champion performer who was an inspiration for many young girls to take up chess in India like the great Anand.

“Right now, it is time to enjoy this memorable win and I dedicate this to my parents, my husband Anvesh for all their wonderful support,” she concluded.

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