India’s three strongest woman players are all set to make their best moves as yet another high profile online chess tournament kicks off on Saturday.
Koneru Humpy, Dronavalli Harika and R. Vaishali could face some of the biggest names in the game at the Women’s Speed Chess championship, organised by FIDE and chess.com.
The second edition of the tournament features 16 players, including World No. 1 Hou Yifan of China, the Russian trio of Kateryna Lagno, Alexandra Kosteniuk and Valentina Gunina, Ukraine’s Anna Muzychuk and Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria.
The knockout event will have games of varying time controls, from one to five minutes. Humpy, the reigning women’s World champion in rapid chess, said the format made the tournament unpredictable. “Anything can happen in a knockout tournament,” she told The Hindu.
“Last year’s event was held over four legs, so you could play right through the event till the two finalists were decided,” she said.
Humpy had finished runner-up in the fourth leg and seventh overall. “I had played with no expectations and I wasn’t too keen on playing online chess then,” she said. “This time, I have been preparing for the tournament by playing against the computer.”
Though she is one of the eight players seeded directly for the tournament — Harika and Vaishali made it after winning qualifying events — she is taking nothing for granted.
“It is a very strong tournament with so many fine players,” she said.
“I am glad that three Indians are in the fray.”
Humpy will take on Bibisara Assaubayeva of Kazakhstan in the opening round on Saturday. Harika will face a stronger challenge on June 16, against Kosteniuk, a former World champion. Vaishali too has a tough opponent in China’s Lei Tingjie.
The final will be played on July 3. All games will be streamed live on YouTube.