V. V. Subrahmanyam

HYDERABAD: Dronavalli Harika scaled another peak in her pursuit to be a world champion in women’s category. This 18-year-old, Andhra chess prodigy picked the World under-20 championship title in Turkey on Friday even as India is celebrating Independence. An apt gift to the country from a champion player who by all means is the most unobtrusive player in Indian chess despite her string of achievements. Rarely seen desperate to hog the media limelight. Preferring to be a silent and giant killer on the chess board. This ‘Queen of 64-squares’ from Guntur has a unique record of winning all the age group titles at the world level from under-10 to under-20. A tribute to her amazing consistency. WGM Harika (ELO 2461), thanks to the sponsorship of Airports Authority of India, is looking only one way - ahead. “We (players) consider the World under-20 championship as one step behind the world championship for women. That is exactly the reason why I feel elated and confident of doing in the seniors event starting in Russia this month-end,” Harika informed The Hindu from Turkey. “Apparently, the confidence level is high even as I am aware of the huge challenge of the World championship for women,” she pointed out.

Significantly, Harika led from the first round to ensure a grand finish with eight wins and five draws to be undefeated right through in Turkey. For someone who idolises Hungary’s Judith Polgar, this Andhra girl reveals that the presence of her grandmother Sudheshna in Turkey is a big plus in her preparations. With the ‘Grammy’ taking care of everything else, the young star had the liberty to stay focussed on the game. “I dedicate this win to her, to my parents – Dasari Ramesh and Swarna and my special thanks to coach N.V.S. Raju.”

Interestingly, the newly-crowned world champion steered clear of a peculiar dilemma – to be present personally to take the Arjuna Award on August 29 in Delhi or take part in the World championship starting from August 28 by opting for the latter. “I think playing is more important even as I cherish the Arjuna Award which I came to know half-way through in Turkey. That also was a huge inspiration,” she explained. There is no doubt that Harika started making right moves at the right time to be in line for bigger glory!