Grandmaster Koneru Humpy highlights how Global Chess League can fill existing gaps in the sport's ecosystem

The youngest female chess player to become a Grandmaster says Dubsi league will be an inspiration for organisers all over the world

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India's Koneru Humpy is one of the many big-name women's players who will compete in the Global Chess League in Dubai. - PTI
India's Koneru Humpy is one of the many big-name women's players who will compete in the Global Chess League in Dubai. - PTI

Published: Mon 29 May 2023, 6:54 PM

Last updated: Mon 29 May 2023, 6:56 PM

Team KT

The first edition of league will be inspiration for organisers all over the world, is on the horizon with the first-ever league-styled chess tournament set to take place between June 21st, 2023 to July 2nd, 2023 in Dubai.

Among the chess stars who will be competing in the tournament is Grandmaster Koneru Humpy, who is the youngest female chess player to become a Grandmaster.

A 2003 Arjuna Awardee, winner of the Padma Shri, and the 2021 BBC Indian Sportswoman of the Year, Humpy is best known for her win at the 2019 FIDE Rapid Chess Championship and will be looking to make a mark once again by playing in the GCL.

"It's quite an interesting one to have a league with mixed teams of men, women and junior players. Apart from that, having a corporate like Tech Mahindra will definitely have a bigger impact in the chess world. This is one of the bigger reasons for us to take part in this event. This league will be inspiration for organisers all over the world,” Humpy said.

A joint venture between Tech Mahindra and FIDE, the GCL will witness six teams competing in a minimum of 10 matches each in a double round-robin format competing in the rapid chess format.

"This is the first time an Indian corporate is coming forward to organising a Chess league. Chess is changing now, and the organisers are trying to make it more spectacular to attract more audience. We also enjoy shorter time formats in a fun way, which will be more entertaining for the audience.”

Humpy, who won the World Rapid Chess Championship in 2020 started her career when she was just six years old after being introduced to the sport by her father. The 36-year-old won her first medal, becoming the national chess champion in the Under-10 category in 1997. The two time Asian Games Gold-medallist stunned the world when she earned the Grandmaster title at the age of 15 years in 2002, becoming the then youngest player to achieve the title.

With a current world ranking of 204 and Classical Elo rating of 2586, the Andhra Pradesh star is regarded as one of the top players from India.

"I started when I was six years old. As a player, I can testify that Chess is constantly being evolved in India. We have plenty of Grandmasters now from the country and we are the fastest growing country in chess at the time,” Humpy said.

Giving a brief insight into what it takes to succeed in chess, Humpy added: "Chess requires lot of practice and physical fitness. You need stamina to be at your best to perform. It takes a lot of time. It also requires a lot of material to read that we have to go through. Training for chess is a never ending story.”

Koneru Humpy is also a mother of a five-year-old and when not competing in tournaments, she spends her time with her family watching movies, and going out for dinner on weekends.

"I have a lot of things to do at home. I have a five-year-old daughter who keeps me busy. I also love watching movies. I enjoy watching comedy films and our regional movie Sitaram has been one of my recent favourites. I also like to go to restaurants with friends and family over the weekend. Usually, I don't travel apart from tournaments because my schedule is quite hectic," she said.

Humpy believes that with the current rise in women’s sports across the world, there is a lot of scope for female athletes to continue pursuing their sport even after attaining motherhood. "There are a lot of mothers who are being successful in their sporting careers now. I am proud to see that I have been able to manage both,” she said.

At the same time, Humpy wishes to see a similar rise for women players in the sport of chess. "The growth of women's chess players in India is quite low as compared to men's growth. There are a lot of youngsters in Men's circuit, but there are quite a few in Women's Chess. For the population and talent we have, the number is quite less and we can improve upon that," she signed off.

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