WIM (1998); WGM (2001); GM (2002 aged 15 years 1 month and 27 days).
Humpy Koneru was born in Gudivada, near Vijayawada, in Andhra Pradesh and was introduced to chess when she was 5 years old by her father Koneru Ashok, a strong player in his own right. (1) In May 2002, she achieved her 3rd GM Norm in the Elekes Memorial Grandmaster tournament in Budapest to become the youngest woman to become an international grandmaster. In 2007 she surpassed the rating of 2577 set by Zsuzsa Polgar to become the second-highest ranked female player in history. In October of 2007, she became the first female player after Judit Polgar to cross the 2600-Elo mark on the FIDE World Rating List. She has won many district, Indian, Asian and World Youth Championships, but has yet to achieve her dream of winning the Women’s World Championship.
<Age> Koneru started her career by winning a presumably age-based District Chess Championship at the age of six in 1993. There followed wins at the Indian National U8 championship in 1995, and the Indian U10, U12 and U15 championships in 1996. She has won four World Championships, including the World Girls U10 Championship in 1997, the World Girls U12 Championship in 1998, the World Girls U14 Championship in 2000 (after coming 2nd in the World U14 Girls Championship in 1999), and the World Girls Junior (U20) championship in 2001. She also won the open U14 national Championship in 1999, the open U12 Asian Championship later in 1999 and the Asian Junior Girls Championship of 2000. She came =1st at the 2002 World Girls Junior Championship in 2002, but was runner up on tiebreak to Zhao Xue. In 2003, she came =6th in the open World U16 Championship and in 2004, she came =5th with 8.5/13 at the World Junior behind Pentala Harikrishna, Zhao Jun, Tigran L Petrosian and Radoslaw Wojtaszek.
<British> In 2000, she won the Women's title in the 2000 British Chess Championships to break a 61-year record held by the late Elaine Saunders Pritchard to become the youngest winner of the British Ladies title. She placed =9th with 7/11 at the 2002 British Championship, again taking the Ladies title.
<Indian> Koneru won the 2003 Indian Women’s Championship and later in the year won a National Women’s A tournament, a 17 round RR event, with a stunning 16/17. Also in 2003, she finished =4th at the 2003 National Championship behind Surya Shekhar Ganguly, Sandipan Chanda and Harikrishna. A year later in 2004, she finished =6th in the same event, and in 2006, she was =4th with 13.5/20, a half point behind the three co-leaders Ganguly, Sandipan, and Diwakar Prasad Singh at the 20 round RR category VIII 43rd Indian Championship (2006).
<Continental> Koneru was 1st at the 2003 Asian Women’s Championship and scored 5.5/9 at the Asian Chess Championship (2005).
<World> Koneru was the rating favourite in the Women's World Championship Knockout Tournament (2004) held in Elista, and progressed as far as the semi-final, defeating Cecile Henriette van der Merwe, Zhaoqin Peng, Tatiana Kosintseva, and Yuhua Xu in the preliminary rounds before losing to Ekaterina Kovalevskaya in the tiebreaker of the semi-final. She was also the rating favourite for the Women's World Championship Knockout Tournament (2006) held in Ekaterinburg, but on this occasional she only advanced to the second round where she was beaten by Marie Sebag after winning against Tuduetso Sabure in round 1. Still the rating favourite, in the Women's World Championship Knockout Tournament (2008) in Nalchik she again made it to the fifth round after defeating Yosra Alaa El Din, Hoang Thanh Trang, and Shen Yang in the early rounds, in addition to winning in a walkover in round 2 due to the Georgian players boycotting the event. In the semi-final, she lost to eventual finalist and winner, Yifan Hou.
Koneru competed in the 2009-2011 Women’s Grand Prix - the winner of which would have the right to challenge for the World Women’s title - qualifying because of her top 4 result in the 2008 World Championship tournament. She won the Is Bankasi Ataturk FIDE Women's Grand Prix (2009) in Istanbul, and the 6th FIDE Women Grand Prix (2011) in Doha, which when combined with her results in the FIDE Women's Grand Prix (2011) in Nalchik and in the Ulan Bator GP, enabled her to place 2nd after Hou Yifan. As Hou was already World Champion, that meant Koneru had won the right to challenge Hou in a match for the title. The Hou - Koneru Women's World Championship Match (2011) match resulted in a win for Hou by 5.5-2.5.
Koneru qualified for the 2011-12 Women’s Grand Prix because of her results in 2010. She won the FIDE Women's Grand Prix Kazan (2012) on tiebreak and also won the Grand Prix in Ankara, which when combined with her results in the Grand Prix in Rostov-on Don and in the Jermuk Grand Prix, placed her 2nd in the 2011-12 Women's Grand Prix series, again behind Hou Yifan. Should Hou have retained her title at the Women's World Championship Knockout Tournament (2012), her second place in the Grand Prix would have again entitled her to challenge for the title, this time in 2013. However, she suffered an unexpected loss to Natalia Zhukova in the second round of the FIDE Knock-Out Women's World Championship (2012), bowing out of the title contest. She also lost her chance to challenge for the 2013 World Women's title when Yifan Hou also lost in the second round; Koneru's challenge could only have occurred had Hou retained her title, as the latter exercised her right as the winner of the Grand Prix series to challenge the new Women's World Champion, GM Anna Ushenina, for the title in late 2013.
Koneru started her 2013-14 Women's Grand Prix campaign with outright wins at the FIDE Women's Grand Prix Dilijan (2013) and the FIDE Women's Grand Prix Tashkent (2013), earning the maximum 320 GP points for the first two legs of the series. However, she stumbled at the FIDE Women's Grand Prix Lopota (2014), scoring only 5.5/11 and adding only 50 GP points to her tally, one third of the points pool for the combined 7th-9th positions. She was overtaken in the overall standings at the FIDE Women's Grand Prix Sharjah (2014) when Hou Yifan took out =1st to Koneru's 7th, thereby becoming runner-up to Hou in the Women's Grand Prix for the third time in succession. Had Hou retained her world crown at the Women's World Championship Knockout Tournament (2015), Koneru would have challenged Hou for the crown later in 2015. However, as Hou did not participate in the world championship tournament, she will, as the winner of the Women's Grand Prix series, replace Koneru as the challenger for the women's world crown.
When she was 13, Koneru was already competing in powerful events like the Goodricke International Open in Kolkata in February 2001 and in the category VII Oakham Masters International GM tournament in England where she came in third behind Nicholas Pert and Irina Krush. She gained her third WGM norm and her first GM norm at the Hotel Lipa International Category VII tournament in Szentgotthárd, Hungary in June 2001 at the age of 14 years and 84 days. Her second GM norm came at at the age of 14 years and 213 days at the 3rd Saturday GM Tournament held at Belgrade, Yugoslavia in October 2001. She won the category VIII Elekes Memorial Grandmaster tournament held in Budapest in May 2002 and in the process also earned her third GM norm. (2). Later in 2002, she made it to the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup in Hyderabad, where she lost to the defending World Cup champion and finalist Yuhua Xu.
She competed at Corus for the first time in 2003, aged fifteen, and scored 6/13, placing =7th in the category XI B Group. Come 2005, she participated in the International Neckar Open in Germany, placing =4th, a half point behind the three co-leaders Mikhail Gurevich, Robert Kempinski and Christoph Renner. Later in the year she was equal 1st in the 1st MCV-Vizag in India alongside Saha Suvrajit and Rajaram R Laxman, and went on to win the 18th North Urals Cup ahead of Alexandra Kosteniuk and Yuhua Xu. She was invited to Corus Group B (2006) scoring 6/13, a result that was better than expected for her rating at the time.
Koneru was invited to the Lausanne Young Masters (2006) and placed 6th. In June 2007, she won the HSG Open Group A outright with 7.5/9 ahead of Mikhael Mchedlishvili and a few weeks later in July she placed =1st alongside Hannes Hlifar Stefansson with 7/9 at the Kaupthing Open A in Luxembourg. There followed:
- =2nd at the 17th Abu Dhabi Masters in August 2007 half a point behind Bassem Amin
- 5/13 at the category XV Corus Group B (2008)
- =4th at the 3rd Kolkata Open Grand Master Chess Tournament 2008 behind Viktor Laznicka, Krishnan Sasikiran and Shukhrat Safin
- =3rd at the Ruy Lopez Chess Festival (2008) behind Michael Adams and Zhang Pengxiang
- =1st with 9/11 in May in the Mumbai "Mayor's Cup" International Open Chess Tournament 2008;
- In 2009 she tied for 1st with Alexander Areshchenko, Magesh Chandran Panchanathan and Evgenij Miroshnichenko in the Mumbai Mayor Cup; and
- 7/10 at the Gibraltar (2010), half a point behind the 9 co-leaders.
<Olympiads> Koneru played board one for her country at the 2004 Women’s Olympiad and at the Turin Olympiad (Women) (2006). In 2009, Humpy accused the All India Chess Federation of preventing her from participating in the Turin Olympiad (Women) (2006) in Turin, asserting that her father and manager Koneru Ashok who was coaching her was not allowed to travel with her for tournaments. The controversy has not died down. (4). She did not participate in the Khanty-Mansiysk Olympiad (Women) (2010) and two years later she pulled out of the Istanbul Olympiad (Women) (2012), apparently because of the continuing dispute with the AICF. Her father and manager commented that "Humpy would not like to talk anything about the Olympiad." (3)
<Snowdrops vs Old Hands> In the Snowdrops vs Old Hands Match held in the closing weeks of in 2009 in the Czech Republic, she helped the Snowdrops beat the Old Hands16.5-15.5, defeating Jan Timman and Vlastimil Hort, and drawing with Viktor Korchnoi and Robert Huebner. The Snowdrops defeated the Old Hands in the same event a year later in 2010, with Koneru scoring 6/8, including wins over Wolfgang Uhlmann, Lajos Portisch, Dragoljub Velimirovic, dropping a single game to Hort.
<National> She played on the top board for India 2 at the 13th Asian Team Championships held in 2003, scoring 4/7, placing 5th on board 1 and helping her team to 6th position. She also played top board for India at the FIDE Women's World Team Championship (2011) played in Mardin, Turkey, securing individual gold with a personal result of 6/8 and helping her team to 4th place. She also played for India at the Asian Indoor Games in Macau in October 2007, winning team silver. In 2013, she played for the Tianjin team in the Chinese League helping her team to win gold.
<European Club Cup> Koneru’s forte in team play has undoubtedly been in the European Women’s Club Cup where she played top board for her Monte Carlo club, apart from 2012 when she played 2nd board. She participated in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013, winning 5 team and 5 individual gold medals during this period, scoring the double on 4 occasions. She also won individual bronze in 2008 and team silver in 2009. (5)
She won the Vizag Challenger Trophy in 2007 when she beat Deepan Chakkravarthy J by 5.5-2.5.
Koneru has been one of the top women players in the world since the 1990s. Her highest ranking was #2 behind Polgár on a number of occasions, although she has taken third place to Yifan Hou since 2013. Her highest rating to date is 2623 in July 2009 when she was ranked the #2 woman in the world. She was the top rated Junior female in the world from the late 1990s until the end of 2007, after which she exited the ranks of Junior players.
She is the elder sister of Chandra Hawsa Koneru.
Sources and references:
- Wikipedia article: Koneru Humpy;
- Live rating: http://www.2700chess.com/women;
- (1) http://ratings.fide.com/card.phtml?...; (2) http://www.guwahatichessassociation...; (3): http://susanpolgar.blogspot.com.au/...; (4) http://en.chessbase.com/Home/TabId/... and Sundar’s reply: http://en.chessbase.com/Home/TabId/... ; Koneru’s response: http://en.chessbase.com/Home/TabId/... CPAI: http://en.chessbase.com/home/TabId/...; (5) http://www.olimpbase.org/playersb/b....