Chess in India: Humpy and Harika on bridging the hole between men and women

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Anish AnandJul 29, 2023, 11:20 AM5 Minute Learn

Koneru HumpyThe India Right this moment Group through Getty Photographs

Chess in India is at a very good place: There are younger gamers rising up shortly, like Gukesh D and R Praggnanandhaa; India hosted the Chess Olympiad final 12 months and secured two medals; and it performed an enormous position in staging the latest World Chess League (GCL).

But that is solely half the image: girls’s chess in India lags fairly behind the lads’s sport. Koneru Humpy and Harika Dronavalli, two Indian chess greats, agree there’s a drawback and take a look at attainable options. Humpy feels that systemic help, particularly efficient in China, is lacking right here and Harika feels there is a lack of the form of competitors amongst girls gamers that has helped Indian males’s chess develop.

“I have been taking part in chess for the previous 30 years,” says Humpy, talking to ESPN just a few days after the conclusion of the GCL marketing campaign. “Now, while you examine the lads, the subsequent technology of gamers are tremendous gifted. There are plenty of gamers developing. Relating to girls, it is exhausting to say. Although we have now gamers like Vaishali, Divya Deshmukh and Savitha Shri, the proportion may be very much less and if we take a look at the age issue and the rankings, we’re nonetheless not competing with Russians and Chinese language. I really feel we’re not specializing in girls’s tournaments and coaching lady gamers. I believe if we are able to determine the proper expertise and practice them, in all probability we’ll get extra gamers. That is my opinion.” She and Harika have been a part of the Mumba Masters in GCL the place their staff made it to the ultimate and narrowly misplaced a thriller.

“Whoever discovered success until now,” Humpy says, “was kind of as a result of their particular person effort. If you happen to see China, they’ve an entire sporting system. If one participant turns into a world champion, they know that that participant can be dropping out sooner or later. So, they shortly put together the subsequent batch of gamers. One among them will shine. We do not have that system right here. If a participant takes particular person effort and finds success, then nice. I believe that has to alter. The federation or the federal government…they need to maintain a concentrate on girls’s chess.”

Harika, medallist on the World Chess Championship and Asian Video games, is uncertain why there is a hole between males’s and ladies’s chess in India. She believes robust competitors between the lads is certainly serving to their sport, one thing the ladies’s sport is sorely missing.

“I actually do not know the rationale,” Harika says. “In fact, there is a void and that is clear. Like Humpy mentioned, generally, infrastructure is completely different for us. Fortunately [for the men], there is a heavy competitors, which helps them develop. Even for me and Humpy, robust competitors between us at all times continued, so it received higher and higher, however I believe on the girls’s stage, that competitors remains to be much less. I do not assume it is associated to gender bias [development of chess in India]. I see the lads and they’re additionally [working] individually, however in fact, higher infrastructure can be good for each women and men.”

Indian Grandmaster Dronavalli Harika on the Grand Swiss match in LatviaFIDE

“Now, when you’re seeing the lads, you may perceive that in girls’s [competitiveness] is much less. Now you may see and begin specializing in these items after which attempt to perceive the best way to make it higher.”

Like with any sport, international publicity and taking part in as many high quality tournaments as attainable makes an enormous distinction. Logistical and monetary points may turn out to be elements within the development and growth of girls gamers.

Humpy, who as soon as turned the youngest girl Grandmaster at 16, says, “If you happen to take a 16-year-old boy, he’ll play tournaments constantly. Dad and mom often can ship the boy alone overseas and make him play the matches. Whereas, on the subject of a woman, they could really feel restricted. Sure limitations can be there. Monetary expenditure could possibly be extra when you journey with a woman. And clearly, if a thousand boys play, we are able to anticipate a better variety of successes. Participation share is much less in girls’s discipline in comparison with males. So, it is comprehensible that the success fee may also be much less.”

Each agree that extra girls’s chess tournaments, particularly in India, will present a lift. Just like the Tata Metal Chess India match, one of many prestigious annual tournaments within the nation, which launched the ladies’s occasion final 12 months. India’s R Vaishali gained the blitz occasion within the girls’s part.

“Now they’ve began this Tata Metal girls’s match. All these gamers are getting the prospect to play with the highest gamers. Earlier, once we needed to play, we needed to get chosen first, discover methods to go there. Now while you get it in India, it is at all times snug. Enjoying the Olympiad in India, it is at all times snug for the upcoming technology,” says Harika.

What’s subsequent?

Humpy (world no. 5) are Harika (world no. 12) are gearing as much as play the Ladies’s Chess World Cup, which begins on July 30 in Baku, Azerbaijan. As prime gamers, which additionally consists of Vaishali, they acquired first spherical byes. A great displaying right here will assist in their preparations for the Asian Video games, the place chess is making a comeback after 13 years. Humpy and Harika are former medallists on the Video games — Humpy gained two gold medals within the 2006 version and Harika bronze in 2010.

“We play plenty of tournaments, however the primary attraction can be on the Olympics, Asian and Commonwealth Video games. That is the place the federal government will take a look at more often than not. That manner it makes the occasion extra particular,” Humpy says.

“I am glad that I can play,” says Harika. ‘It was imagined to occur final 12 months and possibly I would not have gotten an opportunity to play as a result of it was my supply time. I used to be actually planning the best way to make it work. I am glad that I am getting an opportunity to play after the postponement. I simply need to give my finest. And for children, it is going to be a superb alternative. Now the staff members are actually younger and new to the staff occasions. Asian Video games and all are a lot completely different to regular staff occasions, circumstances can be completely different.”


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