Playing chess was not very fashionable among the youngsters some decades back. I still remember how some uncles of used to be hooked on to the chessboard intently looking at the chess pieces for hours and hours together thinking up some brilliant chess strategies outsmarting their opponents. When they checkmated them, the result was one would burst out in boyish joy and the loser would always wear a glum face. Their attempts to make me learn to play chess did not fructify. At a later when I was eventually exposed to the beauty of the game, the endless variations of chess openings and end-games, I understood why these old people remained absorbed in it for hours together.

 

In India the chess scenario was very different from what it is now. Some two decades we did not have any chess Grandmaster. Today we have them in good numbers being led by no other than the reigning World Champion Vishwanathan Anand whose chequered chess career speaks for itself and not the topic for this article. I am going to bring into discussion chess exploits of a wonder girl from Hyderabad- Koneru Humpy. This young shy girl exhibited her genius when she was a kid. She was born in Gudivada, Andhra Pradesh in !987. It was her father Koneru Ashok who deserves all the credit for spotting the talent in her daughter. He made supreme sacrifices by chucking his lecturer's job to provide her right coaching and guidance. It should be noted she did not have the facility of computer chess or chess software to benefit from. Today chess download has become a very common facility. But nothing could prevent her talent from blossoming. Her love for the chessboard, chess set finally enabled her from going strength to strength.

 

Today she is grandmaster holding the number two position with Elo rating of 2610 positioning herself just behind Judith Polgar another chess prodigy. Once she held the world record of becoming the youngest grandmaster which was subsequently broken by Hou Yifan. With her glorious achiements, honors and accolades came thick and fast. In 2003, She was conferred the prestigious Arjuna Award. She also won the most prestigious civilian award Padma Shri in 2007. When we come across the scenario of thousands of young boys and girls joining chess clubs and chess training centers to make India a powerhouse of chess, the entire credit should go to chess personalities like Anand and Koneru Humpy.

 


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