Months after claiming the title of World Rapid Chess Champion, Koneru Humpy emerged triumphant in the Cairns Cup chess tournament after a draw against compatriot Dronavalli Harika, in the final round. This is Humpy’s second title within the span of just two months.
The Saint Louis Chess Club based in Saint Louis, Missouri, was hosting the second edition of the Cairns Cup, which is an elite level tournament for the top ten female chess players from all over the world. The total prize purse for the tournament is a whopping $180,000. The tournament follows a nine-round classical format and promises to not only offer the most lucrative prize fund, but also boasts of being the strongest female chess tournament in the world. The winner takes $45,000, while the first and second runners-up receive $35,000 and $25,000 respectively.
32-year-old Humpy was crowned the world champion in the final week of December as she finished the tournament with 6 points added to her score. She has since moved to the second position on the international rankings.
"I am very happy to have won such a strong tournament. It also reminds me that winning the world rapid title was no flash in the pan," said an ecstatic Humpy.
Contenders also included world champion Wenjun Ju, who finished second with 5.5 points after her final round, pitted against Russian Alexandra Kosteniuk. Kosteniuk finished fourth in the tournament with 5 points.
Humpy confessed she found her match against Kosteniuk to be the most daunting.
"The match against Alexandra Kosteniuk, which was a long battle in the seventh round was the toughest. It helped me keep my unbeaten record against her in five games," she said.
The Indian has been the recipient of laurels such as the Arjuna Award which she won in the year 2003, and the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honour in India, which she won in the year 2007, which also happened to be the year wherein she became the second female player after Judit Polgár to surpass the 2600 Elo rating mark. A brief hiatus came in her chess career between the year 2007 until her momentous comeback in the year 2019, when she won the Skolkovo Women’s Grand Prix Tournament.
Humpy now has her eyes set on the Grand Prix in Italy, later to be held in May of 2020.
"The next big event is the Grand Prix in Italy this May and then I will be playing in the PSPB tournaments in India," added Humpy.
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