India’s best women chess player and World No. 2 Koneru Humpy has decided to skip the World women’s team championship to be held in Ningbo (China) from September 1 to 12.
The newly-appointed coach of Indian team for the above event, Lanka Ravi said the team will feel the absence of Humpy.
The women’s team, scheduled to have a preparatory camp scheduled in Delhi from this week-end, created history of sorts by qualifying for the above event.
For his part, Lanka Ravi says it is a huge challenge to guide the fortunes of what he believes is a very talented team comprising WGMs Dronavalli Harika, Tania Sachdev, Mary Ann Gomes, Esha Karvade and Kruttika Nadig.
“No doubt, it is the toughest event with such formidable teams like China which will field players like Hou Yifan, who had beaten Koneru Humpy recently, and Jhao Xue, Shen Yang, who also knocked out Humpy in the fourth round of the world chess championship last year.
Georgia’s challenge will be led by 48-year-old, former world champion Maia Chiburdanidze,” Ravi told The Hindu.
However, Russia will be without its big guns including world champion Alexandra Kosteniuk but the focus will be on Kosintseva sisters.
For someone who taking up the assignment for the first time, Ravi asserts he is ready for the challenge.
“The reason is this Indian team is capable of bringing a medal. Each member is aware of the task on hand and has the wherewithal to do well at this level,” he insists.
“The new rules should also favour us. The zero-tolerant rule wherein a player will be declared a loser even if she is late by one minute at the table, the new scoring system - like a team scoring 2.5 in the four vs four matches - should be of great advantage to us. Effectively, two wins and a draw would be enough to score the big wins,” he explained.
“The focus in the camp will be on critical ability to spot tactics, creating a new level of confidence in the team as a whole and improving the positional play which also happens to be the strong-point of our Indian players,” Ravi said.
“The Swiss format where in all the 10 teams (China is fielding two being the host) is another major plus for it always gives the team to fight back even if there is a setback at any stage,” he said.
Meanwhile, Koneru Ashok, father-cum-coach of Humpy said his daughter is concentrating on the women’s World championship title and hence is selective in taking part in women’s events.
“Since she is a Grandmaster in men’s section too, Humpy’s strategy is to maintain that standard by taking part only in those women events where she has medal chances like the Asian Games and the Asian Indoor Games,” he said.
“The focus for her right now is the World Grand Prix series. Having won one early this year, she is preparing for the other one scheduled this year-end. Two more are scheduled next year,” he said.