India has so far failed to produce a worthy male successor to World Champion Viswanathan Anand, but Humpy Koneru has come very close to giving the country a monopoly on world chess titles. Her father was a chess player himself and decided to give up his university job to coach his 8-year-old daughter. Success soon followed, with Humpy going on to win the World Girls Under 10, 12, 14 and 20 Championships. By the age of 14 in January 2002 she was ranked no. 3 among women at 2539, and later that year she broke Judit Polgar’s record for the youngest woman ever to become a grandmaster.
Humpy also followed in Polgar’s footsteps as a 20-year-old, when she became only the second female player to cross 2600 on the rating list. Her peak rating since then has been 2623. The one disappointment of Humpy’s career so far is that she’s failed to claim the Women’s World Championship. She came closest in 2008 when she lost a semifinal to Hou Yifan, and in 2011 when she lost a 10-game final match to the same opponent. She hasn’t let that discourage her, however, and is on course for another chance after scoring two victories out of two tournaments in the 2013/14 Grand Prix series.
Photo: FIDE Grand Prix Tashkent 2013
Koneru Humpy, Indian’s chess Grandmaster and the second highest ranked female chess player in the world.
Born in 1987 in Andhra Pradesh, Humpy was smitten by chess as a toddler and under the guidance of her father, went on to win the Under 8 National Chess Championship in 1995. The rest is history and there was no looking back. She continued winning accolades in the Under 10, Under 12 and Under 14 age groups. At 15, she became the youngest woman to ever become a grandmaster.
Humpy was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2003 and the Padma Shri in 2007.
Why we find her inspiring:
– For being the perfect combination of beauty and brains
– For carving a niche for herself in a sport which has few prominent Indian women champions
– For making her country proud by her numerous awards and recognitions
– For her dedication to her passion from an early age
*Photo credit: GoddessChess