Blog by : Anuradha Guha
Humpy Koneru is an Indian chess grandmaster.
Koneru was born on 31st March, 1987 in Vijaywada in Andhra Pradesh. Her name originally was Hampi which meant ‘champion’. Her father later changed her name to ‘Humpy’ to more closely resemble a Russian-sounding name.
Koneru won three gold medals at World Youth Chess Championship, one in 1997 under 10 girls division, one in 1998 under 12 girls division and another in 2000 under 14 girls division. In 1999 the Asian Youth Chess Championship was held in Hyderabad. She won at it under 14s’ division, competing with boys. Koneru won the World Junior Girls’ Championship in 2001. She won the British Womens’ Championship both in 2000 and 2002. In 2001, she won the 10th Asian Womens’ Individual Championship and the Indian Women Championship.
In 2005, Koneru won the North Urals Cup a round-robin tournament which was held in Russia and featured ten of the strongest female chess players in the world. In 2004, she participated in the Women’s World Championship for the first time and she has participated in it regularly ever since. She qualified to the semi finals in 2004, 2008 and 2010.
Koneru participated in the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix 2009-2011. She came second, thus qualifying as challenger for Women’s World Chess Championship 2011. Koneru was runner-up in the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix 2013-2014, losing to Hou Yifan in the final stage of the game.
She went into Women’s World Chess Championship 2015 as no. 1 but was defeated in the quarter-finals of the game by Maria Muzychuk, who eventually won the games.
In 015 itself, she own the individual bronze at the Women’s World Team Chess Championship held in Chengdu, China. Dronavalli Harika won silver in this game and Humpy won bronze. But in spite of this, India came fourth in the competition, a point behind China. China was the winner of the bronze medal.
Humpy Koneru was the first woman grandmaster. Her career first started when she won the fourth place in the Indian under-8 championships in 1995. That was the beginning of a wonderful journey and Humpy has not looked back since.
Humpy took part in a variety of matches and despite the failures she faced in many games, she continued of with grit and a steely determination. With courage and a desire to pursue her dreams, she eventually paved her way to success.
In 1999, Koneru was crowned Asia’s Youngest Women International Mater. (WIM)
In 2000, she was lauded World’s under-14 girl champion, Oropesa del Mar, Spain.
In 2001, she was crowned India’s youngest Woman Grandmaster. (WGM)
In 2001 itself, she was awarded World Junior Girls Champion, Athens.
In 2003, she was given the ‘Arjuna Award’, one of the most prestigious sports awards in India.
In 2007, Koneru was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth highest ranking civilian award in India.
Chess is a game of the mind. But Koneru highlights the importance of physical health in having a sharp clear mind. She was quoted saying- “I spend around one hour per day on physical exercise. Exercise is a must for every chess player. As the proverb says, ‘A sound mind in a sound body.’ ”