Principal Correspondent

HYDERABAD: World No.2 Koneru Humpy believes the two title-triumphs in the HSG Open in the Netherlands and the Kaupthing International in Luxembourg can prove a big morale-booster in the preparations for the next year’s World Championship.

Speaking to The Hindu on her return to her hometown, Humpy said that two titles were significant as they had come in the Swiss format unlike her earlier triumphs which had come in the round-robin format.

“I think I have improved my repertoire with the black pieces as was evident by the Ruy Lopez which I used successfully,” she pointed out. “Moreover, I won these two tournaments without losing a game. This is a far cry from the last year’s performances when there looked to be a stagnation of sorts,” she explained.

The ONGC officer, however, confessed that she has to go a long way in improving her opening repertoire.

“It is obvious that I will have to work a lot in this area and I am confident with my father-cum-coach Ashok continuing to be my trainer, we will produce the desired results,” she remarked.

For his part, Ashok points out that besides improving opening variations, Humpy has to work on speed in the games. “It is imperative for you to put the opponent under time pressure as often as possible at this level,” he explains.

Immediate focus

For Humpy, the immediate focus now is the Abu Dhabi International Open from August 11 to 20. “Obviously, the best aspect of the last two titles is that I improved my ELO rating by 25 points,” she said. “Realistically, I have set a target of crossing the 2600-mark this year-end. Now having come closer to that (she should be around 2597 by this month-end), it is equally important for me to maintain it,” she remarked.

Humpy is not too concerned about the challenges ahead. “I think the knock-out format was a big problem last time. You need some luck in such a format. It is said that it will be changed next year. Either way, I am working on rapid-games to face it,” she pointed out. “I will also be playing for the French team Monaco in the European Club championship in Turkey this October and that should be a big experience for me,” she said.

With Humpy regaining her winning touch in the European circuit, her father-cum-coach Ashok is keeping his fingers crossed on whether he will get the prestigious Dronacharya Award or not (State Government had forwarded his application to the AICF) . “I think he deserves it and if he gets it, that will be a big boost to our preparations,” concluded Humpy.

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