Editorial

Humpy reigns: On Koneru Humpy's world title

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In winning the rapids, Koneru Humpy is slowly rising up to her full potential in world chess

On Saturday night in Moscow, Koneru Humpy finally won a World title in senior chess. She was expected to win one long ago, given her talent, single-mindedness and the ability to work hard. Her triumph at the women’s World rapid championship is the biggest achievement by an Indian after Viswanathan Anand’s many World titles and it makes India as one among the few countries to have produced both male and female World rapid champions. Even more importantly, the World rapid title could be a big boost to her bid to win the classical World chess championship. The classical format is rightly considered the real thing in chess: it is a bit like Test cricket, while rapid and blitz segments are more like One Day Internationals and T20. The classical variant gives enough time for a player before making a move, to minimise chances of error and fortune. Humpy herself prefers it to the shorter formats, so this title is all the more commendable. In Moscow she displayed nerves of steel in the tie-break games against China’s Lei Tingjie as she emerged the champion after coming from behind.

The 32-year-old had begun the tournament as the 13th seed, but her victory shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, given the quality of her chess and her form, having done exceedingly well at the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix in Russia and Monaco. She is now leading the Grand Prix — part of the cycle for the next World championship. The World rapid title in Moscow is great, but only when she wins the classical World title would she have lived up to her true potential. Right from the time she first made headlines winning the World Under-10 championship in 1997, she has been busy proving she was India’s best bet in chess after Anand. Winning the World junior (under-20) championship at 14, an Asian boys’ Under-12 championship — women are free to compete with men — and becoming the second woman in history to cross the magical 2600 mark in Elo points are only some of her achievements in one of the truly remarkable careers in Indian sport. Somehow, winning the World (classical) chess championship has eluded her. She played the World title match once and the semifinals of the World championship three times. Her best chance came in the 2011 World title match, but she was beaten by Hou Yifan, despite being seeded above the Chinese. Humpy has every reason to believe that she can cross the final frontier, too. Now though is the time to celebrate the greatest moment of the year for Indian sport after P.V. Sindhu won the badminton World Championship four months ago.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 6:20:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/humpy-reigns-on-koneru-humpys-world-title/article30435952.ece

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