Dronavalli Harika is delighted at having won one of the biggest titles of her career (the Asian women's chess championship in Moshad in Iran on Tuesday) and more importantly that she has once again qualified for the next edition of the World championship.
“This is a great feeling. The competition was very tough but I enjoyed the tournament and I am happy that I came good when it mattered most,” said Harika, whose first phone call was to her coach N. V. S. Ramaraju.
“The long wait for the big title has ended and this should help me in looking ahead,” said the 20-year-old from Guntur, who was top seeded in the tournament.
“The long hours of hard work with my coach has paid off. I did experiment a bit with my Defence variations rather unsuccessfully. ” said the former World junior champion.
“My focus now shifts to the Worlds and I am sure my coach will be ready with the required training schedule before that event. My ultimate dream remains to become a World champion,” Harika said.
“The win in the final round was crucial as it helped me to get 6.5 points from nine rounds to be a clear winner. Before the last round, six players were tied with 5.5 points each and I was in a must-win situation. Fortunately while all the others finished with a draw, I could clinch the game,” Harika explained.
“It was a wonderful feeling to see my teammate Eesha Karavade win the bronze in the women's section,” she added.
This 20-year-old Business Management student still reckons the World junior title she won earlier as the biggest of all the wins. “Yes, this Asian title is definitely significant that it came after a long break, despite the strong Chinese presence,” remarked Harika, who is now looking for the third norm to become a men's Grandmaster.
An elated Ramaraju said that Harika's biggest strength is her abundance of patience and rich repertoire of openings.
“Yes, we need to focus more on end-game variations while working on deviations to force a favourable middle-game against the big guns in the major events lined up before the Worlds,” he explained.
In the case of Harikrishna, it was a perfect birthday gift for his parents, based in Hyderabad, as he turned 25 on Tuesday.
“I was desperately looking for a title of this kind for a long time. I am happy that I won the title despite being fourth-seed in the tournament and did not lose a game,” he said to his parents.
“Hari sounded immensely happy that he recorded a very important win against Zhao Jun of China with black in the final round to tie for the first place and then win the title on tie-breaker rule,” the proud parents recalled.