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Chess

Chess: Two-time Asiad gold medallist Koneru Humpy unsure of going to China due to Covid-19

Humpy was a teenager when she won the women’s individual and mixed team gold at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha.

Koneru Humpy chess
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Koneru Humpy (Source: Twitter)

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PTI

Updated: 5 April 2023 5:14 PM GMT

Double Asian Games gold medallist Grandmaster Koneru Humpy is unsure about her participation in the continental event later this year as it is being held in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, saying she’ll make up her mind closer to the showpiece event.

Humpy was a teenager when she won the women’s individual and mixed team gold at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha. Being one of the top India woman chess exponents – the other being D. Harika – Humpy should be the automatic choice to make the India team for the Hangzhou Games scheduled to commence on September 23.

But Humpy, told PTI on the sidelines of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix, which concluded here on Wednesday, that she was “unhappy" that the Asian Games were happening in China.

Asked about her expectations at the Asian Games, where chess is set to return after 13 years, Humpy said, “Well I’m not sure about my participation in the Asian Games because it’s being held in China. "Because of China, I’m not sure I’ll participate. Probably I’ll be deciding in June or July. (It’s) because of COVID, what else could be the reason to go to China,” she added.

“I really wanted to play the Asian Games. But I’m a bit unhappy that it's being held in China. So, let me think and decide upon that," the winner of the Women’s World Rapid Chess in 2019 added. The Asian Games was postponed last year due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in China, this year again the country has witnessed an increase in infections.

Federation's inactive role in promoting women in Chess

Humpy, who was part of the women’s team that won the historic Chess Olympiad bronze at Mahabalipuram last year, added that the All India Chess Federation (AICF) should do more for women’s chess. She categorically said there wasn’t enough encouragement for women to take up chess in the country.

"There isn't enough encouragement for the girls (in India) -- encouragement in the sense that we don’t have any special women's events or any kind of training. We are not able to motivate them. "I think, that’s one of the reasons (for women not taking up the sport). What I believe is, our success is completely an individual effort,” she added.

She also pointed out that demographic issues were a big impediment in the growth of women’s chess. "For boys, it's easy to form groups and work together, but for girls that is tough as we are placed at different locations. So, unless someone like the federation (AICF) takes that initiative to gather some girls and train them (it would be difficult for girls).

"I think that’s what the Chinese do; gather the talented players and training them. That’s how their supply line never dries up,” opined Humpy. Humpy also called on the AICF to organise more tournaments and send players abroad to train so that they can hone their skills.

"The federation can host tournaments, or they can send players abroad. They should sort out their (players’) financial issues and organise some training camps so that they can improve their skills,” added Humpy, who now only plays for the love of the game rather than to win laurels.

"Nowadays, I don’t target anything. I simply want to enjoy my game. I just love to play rather than aim for laurels. That’s more important for me,” said Humpy, adding that a sport like chess should also be a part of the Olympic curriculum."

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