Making steady progress

Koneru Humpy with the Tashkent Grand Prix shield.-V. RAJU

Koneru Humpy is pleased with her recent performances which propelled her rating back to 2600 from 2589, writes J.R. Shridharan.

The loss to the current World champion, Hou Yifan, in the 2011 Women’s World Championship still rankles Indian Grandmaster Koneru Humpy but she looks more organised this time round to stake her claim for the all-important world title clash in 2015.

Her comprehensive victories in the Armenian Grand Prix in June followed by the triumph in Tashkent in September are testimony to the Vijayawada girl’s determination to attain her goal. She bagged eight points out of 11 rounds in both the tournaments.

Humpy will be taking part in two more Grand Prix events in 2014 — Georgia and Mongolia — and she has to win one more fixture to be in contention for the title clash in the Women’s World Championship.

However, it is not an easy task for Humpy as two quality rivals — Slovakia’s Anna Muzychuk and China’s teen sensation Hou Yifan — are breathing down her neck.

“I didn’t make many changes (in my openings) but tried a few variations. My rivals too added some interesting variations to catch their opponents off-guard. Most of the ties went the distance and were decided in endgames,” said Humpy. To keep herself busy till the next Grand Prix in Georgia, the Arjuna Awardee will be travelling to China to play the Chinese League in Qingdao featuring top GMs from all over the world. Then she will travel to Rhodes in Greece to be a part of the European League representing Monaco Club of France. She will also take part in the World Mind Games, the annual event, to be held in Beijing.

“These leagues are popular in Asia and Europe and they give an opportunity to the host countries to test the prowess of their local GMs against players from abroad. Unfortunately in India, we are yet to conceive a league involving foreign players. It is time the All India Chess Federation took a call,” Humpy added.

Humpy is pleased with her recent performances which propelled her rating back to 2600 from 2589.

“I will be adding five points to my present 2607 rating,” she pointed out.

Humpy is presently the World No. 3 among women. Hungarian Judith Polgar and China’s Hou Yifan occupy the first and second spots respectively.

The World Chess Federation (FIDE) has selected 18 top players who will play four mandatory tournaments out of six Grand Prix events in two years (2013 and 2014). The player who garners more points will clash with the winner of the 2014 knockout, for the world title in 2015.

Humpy has kept the proposal for roping in a ‘playing partner’ in cold storage at least until the world championships are over. “She is doing well and with two emphatic victories, she is in the right frame of mind. I do not want her to lose her rhythm,” said her father Ashok, a Dronacharya.

Humpy has so far made five unsuccessful attempts at the prestigious title since 2004. Will dame luck smile on her this time? Only time will tell.