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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Star Interview - Humpy Koneru

Humpy Koneru - Mysterious Chess Grandmaster from India

Humpy Koneru from India has been rated number 2 in the world since January 2006. Now she is rated 2603. Humpy crossed the magic 2600 mark in October 2007. This October, I played with Humpy in the same team - Cercle d'échecs de Monte Carlo in the Eurocup in Ohrid. Koneru took 5 out of 6 on the first board and had a perfomance of 2714. That helped our team to take the silver medals. Just before the closing ceremony Humpy agreed to give a short interview for my chess blog. After this interview Humpy Koneru for me is like never before a mysterious girl from India that works very hard for achieving her goals and we can be sure that we will hear her name many times in the future.

AK - Congratulation on your result! Are you happy about that?

HK - Yes, I’m happy about the way I have played. Ok, in the game with Elina Danielian, in the 6th round it was a bit shaky, but I managed to make a draw. Overall, I think I played better chess here.

AK - What is your best game in this tournament?

HK - My game against Muzychuk was the best in the tournament with very complicated middle game. She had a chance to sacrifice a piece on my king, but later on I got the exchange but still it’s not clear. Finally I won the game in a tactical manner.

[Event "14th ECC w"]
[Site "Ohrid MKD"]
[Date "2009.10.6"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Koneru,H"]
[Black "Muzychuk,A"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Eco "E32"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 O-O 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.Qxc3 b6 7.Nf3
Bb7 8.e3 d6 9.Be2 Nbd7 10.O-O Ne4 11.Qc2 f5 12.b4 Rf6 13.d5 c5
14.Bb2 Rg6 15.Rad1 Qe7 16.g3 Rf8 17.Ne1 exd5 18.cxd5 Ne5 19.Ng2
Rh6 20.f3 Nf6 21.bxc5 bxc5 22.Nf4 Bc8 23.Bc1 Ne8 24.Ne6 Bxe6
25.dxe6 Rxe6 26.f4 Ng4 27.Bc4 Ngf6 28.Qxf5 d5 29.Rxd5 Kh8 30.Re5
Rxe5 31.Qxe5 Qd7 32.Be2 Nc7 33.Rd1 Ncd5 34.Bf3 Qa4 35.Qd6 Rc8
36.g4 Qc2 37.Bd2 h6 38.g5 hxg5 39.fxg5 Qg6 40.e4 Nb6 41.Kh1 Nc4
42.Qa6 Re8 43.Qxc4 Nxe4 44.Re1 1-0

AK - Ok, now let’s us move a little bit back, when were you born?

HK - I was born on March 31, 1987 in Gurivara, it’s the Southern Part of India, I belong to the State Andhra Pradesh.

AK - How did you start playing chess?

HK - I started playing at the age of 6, I learned chess from my dad. He is a national master level player and he has won several southern championships, he was my only coach so far and we work together 6-7 hours a day.

AK - And you are still working with you father only?

HK - Yes, only with my father.

AK - Do you have any brothers or sisters?

HK - I have one younger sister and she also played chess for some years. She reached the level of 2300 and then she thought that it would be much better for her to take studies as her career. She finished her degree recently and she is looking for a job right now :)

AK - What about yourself? Do you consider chess your profession?

HK - Yes, it’s my profession, also because being a chess player I joined the oil-company – ONGC (oil national gas corporation), they pay me a monthly salary and they also reimburse me travel expenses.

AK - How did you understand that you have a talent in chess?

HK - It was only my dad who thought I’d be having a good career in chess on international level. He sacrificed his job and he started training me. He took me in every tournament in India. When I was 14 I was already pretty serious that I want to devote myself completely to the game.

AK - What are your main achievements so far in chess?

HK - I think winning the recent Grand-Prix (in March in Istanbul), also two gold medals in the Asian Games, apart from that crossing the rating of 2600, it’s a very tough thing for me because it took almost 5 years for me after becoming a GM to reach this rating. In the past two years I maintain myself on the 2600 mark but just recently I dropped it down but again I’m going back.

AK - What are your goals in chess?

HK - Of course to win the women’s world chess championship and also I want to improve my rating to 2650.

AK - Are you trying to catch up with Judith Polgar? Do you think it’s possible?

HK - I hope so, but I know it’s really very tough, when you are playing on high-level tournaments, the competition will be much more tougher but I would like to do that.

AK - What are your hobbies beside chess?

HK- Well, most of the time I play chess. But ok I do like to spend time with my family, we go out to movies. I do go to gym everyday for one hour.

AK - Why do you think men are playing stronger than women?

HK - Well, I think because they work hard and also because they have more resources. Like for women you don’t think only about playing in a tournament . You have to think about family. You don’t even get support from the family at the right moment, but for men, they are independent, they always feel they can do whatever they think. And physically, they are stronger.

AK - Do you think it’s possible that one day a woman will become the overall chess champion?

HK - Hope is always there, but practically I think it’s not going to happen because we can see that the ratio of women chess players is less and we play fewer tournaments and apart from that the results that we get from the men’s tournaments when we are seen somewhere last in the table, so we can only expect to move somewhere in the middle in the coming years but not to be on the top.

AK - What are your next tournaments?

HK - I’ll be playing in the Asian Indoor Games (unfortunately shortly after this interview Humpy had to withdraw her participation from this Games dues to some problems with her Federation, you can read about it here) and from November 27 onwards I will be playing in the match against Veterans in Prague, in January I will be playing in the Gibraltar-open tournament for the first time.

AK - What do you think we should do in order to make chess and particulary women chess more popular?

HK - I think first of all there should be no draws. And we should pay more attention to blitz and rapid tournaments as they are more interesting for the spectators and I also think the format that we play the women’s world chess championship – the knock-out format, we should have more tournaments with this system.

AK - Thank you very much and good luck on your next tournaments!

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women's World Chess Champion



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