A wise move

World No. 3 woman player Koneru Humpy (rating of 2597) has decided to go for a ‘playing partner’ who would work along with her father-cum-coach Koneru Ashok, a Dronacharya awardee, towards achieving her ultimate goal of becoming the No. 1 woman player in the world.

Both critics and well-wishers, who have been monitoring the GM’s progress, have welcomed her decision, as she had failed to clinch the coveted women’s world title in five attempts. Humpy lost thrice — 2008, 2010 and 2011 — to China’s teenage sensation Hou Yifan. This year the women’s World Championship will be held between challenger Hou Yifan and world champion Anna Ushenina of Ukraine from September 10 to 28.

Humpy said her partner would be a tactical player either from India or abroad. “I have a few names in mind. Soon I will decide on one,” she said on her return from Bangkok after emerging victorious in the women’s section of the Thailand Open. She garnered 6.5 points out of nine rounds.

Humpy felt one should be careful while deciding on a ‘playing partner’ as it was a sensitive issue. “There is a possibility of your strategies and game plans getting leaked to the rival camps. As most of the rivals in the women’s World Championships are from either Russia or China, we (Indians) should be doubly careful,” said Humpy, who, from the beginning, is being trained by her father, a National ‘B’ player.

While Humpy is finding it difficult to tie-up with male GMs both in India and abroad, the women’s section in India (barring World No. 18 Dronavalli Harika and Tania Sachdev) doesn’t offer much to train or work with. “In fact, they (Harika and Tania) are my rivals and working with them is ruled out,” said Humpy.

She will next be playing in a FIDE Women’s Grand Prix tournament in Armenia in June. “I will be playing three more Grand Prix tournaments after the Armenia meet. As I am playing the same GMs in Grands Prix, I am planning to play seven to eight Open tournaments, where, I will be playing against new players with new ideas.”

Grandmaster and seven-time National champion Pravin Mahadeo Thipsay, who was in Vijayawada on a coaching assignment, said that Humpy, 26, needed to train under a coach who had a contrasting style to excel in the all-important World Championship. “The playing partner should ensure that she (Humpy) seldom loses her innate quality, yet confuse her rivals.”

Thipsay felt that Humpy, despite being a favourite to win the women’s world title, has been faltering frequently at crucial junctures and the most-coveted title was eluding her. “Hou Yifan of China has emerged as Humpy’s nemesis.”

Thipsay also advocated a session of sports therapy (counselling) to help Humpy boost her sagging morale and also to quell inhibitions, if any.

“Hypnotism is a part of the treatment and that helps restore your self-confidence. When you are losing repeatedly you would begin to doubt yourself. These therapies will be of some use.”

Thipsay felt just like how modern cricket provided space for batting, bowling and fielding coaches to help players perform well, modern chess, too, should encourage specialised coaches to achieve the desired results.

J. R. Shridharan