Koneru Humpy Is Women’s World Rapid Chess Champion

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India’s chess sensation Koneru Humpy outsmarted China’s Lei Tingjie in a highly-anticipated battle to win the Women’s World Rapid Chess Championship in Moscow, Russia. The Grandmaster claimed the title after winning the Skolkovo FIDE Women’s Grand Prix this year. “When I started my first game on Day 3 I did not imagine I would be at the top. My hope was to reach top three. I didn’t expect to play the tie-break games,” said 32-year-old Humpy after making a stunning comeback. Andhra Pradesh based Humpy had taken a two-year sabbatical from 2016 to 2018 after she became a mother.

“I lost the first game on time but came back in the second game. It was a gambling game, but I won. In the final game, I had a better position and it was a comfortable win,” she added.

According to this year’s rankings released by the world body International Chess Federation, the Indian chess stalwart Koneru Humpy jumped to world number three position. Starting as the thirteenth seat, Humpy scored nine points in all. She had a good beginning to the event scoring 4.5 points in the first five rounds, and then a lost against Irina Bulmaga of Russia. This hampered her scoreboard slightly but at the end the Arjuna Awardee won the last two rounds.

After Vishwanathan Anand who won this title in the open section in 2017, Humpy is only the second Indian to win the rapid gold in the current format.

Key Takeaways:

  • Indian Grandmaster Koneru Humpy claimed the World Women’s Rapid Chess Championship title in Moscow, Russia. She won the dramatic game against Lei Tingjie of China
  • The 32-year-old made a stunning comeback after taking a two-year sabbatical from 2016 to 2018 after she became a mother
  • Starting as the thirteenth seat, Humpy scored nine points in all to match Tingjie and Ekaterina Atalik of Turkey

Humpy — Asia’s youngest International Woman Master, 1999 — is the highest-rated and strongest Indian contender. Humpy’s last memorable performance was at last year’s World Chess Olympiad. In 2002, at the age of 15, she became the youngest woman ever to achieve the title of a Grandmaster.

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Humpy achieved the feat of becoming the youngest woman ever to achieve the title of grandmaster (not solely a Woman Grandmaster) at the age of 15 years, one month, 27 days, beating Judit Polgár’s previous mark by three months.

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A former chess player, Koneru Ashok’s daughter Humpy was initially named Hampi, derived from the word “champion.” Inspired by her father, chess became an easy target for the five-year-old. He used to tell her about the Polgar sisters Susan, Judith, and Sophie as these are some of the top chess players in the world. And she came close to their record.

In 1998, Humpy won gold in the world under-10 competition and the next year at the Asian Youth Chess Championship, held in Ahmedabad, she won the under-12 section. She was competing with the boys there. In 2000, she again picked a gold in the WYCC under-12 category. Humpy won the World Junior Girls Championship in 2001 and became the youngest woman to obtain an International Grandmaster norm and held the record for four years. In the year 2014 she got married to Dasari Anvesh. She is also the recipient of Arjuna Award and Padma Shri award as well.

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