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The greatest female player of India turns 32 years old

by Sagar Shah - 31/03/2019

Indian chess is blessed to have players who have sacrificed just about everything in their life to achieve something special on the chess board. Five-time World Champion Vishy Anand created a chess revolution with his phenomenal achievements. In women's chess it's Koneru Humpy who has achievements that are unparalleled in the world of chess. Humpy became a full-fledged GM at the age of 15 years and 1 month. She was only the second woman player in the world after Judit Polgar to have crossed 2600 Elo ranking. She is an Arjuna Awardee and also a Padma Shri recepient. If there is something missing in her trophy cabinet, then it is the title of the Women's World Champion. Today, this legendary chess player has turned 32 years old.

Have a look at these five images below:

If you look at the five images above, the one common thing you will find in all of them is the utter seriousness, concentration and will power to fight and win just about each and every game of chess that she plays. That's India number one Koneru Humpy for you. Her competitors would say that Humpy would never get nervous during her games. This complete control over her nerves and the ability to stay focused is what makes her special. Today, 31st of March 2019, is her 32nd birthday!

And, yes, she will greet you with a nice smile...

...if you meet her before the game

...or after the game!

But during the game it is business as usual!

Humpy was born on 31st of March 1987 in Vijaywada, Andhra Pradesh to Koneru Ashok and Latha Ashok. She was originally named "Hampi" by her parents who derived the name from the word "champion". Her father later changed the spelling to Humpy, to more closely resemble a Russian-sounding name.

Pictures from the Koneru Humpy album: as a child top left with her father, on a plane to the Under 10 world championship, at the boys' Under 14, with the World Junior Trophy in 2001, after winning the World U14 in Dortmund (bottom centre and right).

Koneru Humpy won three World Youth Championships - under 10 (1997), under-12 (1998) and under-14 (2000). It was clear that she was the best girl talent in the world. However, Humpy never wanted to limit herself by playing in the women's section. Hence, in 1999, she took part in the under-12 Asian open section competing with the boys and won the event. In 2001, when she was just 14 years old Humpy played in the World Junior Girls' Championship (under-20) and won the title. Koneru competed with the boys in the 2004 World Junior Championship, which was won by Pentala Harikrishna and tied for fifth place, finishing tenth on tiebreak with a score of 8.5/13 points.

Standings of World Juniors 2004

1GMHarikrishna P (IND)2612IND1030111
2GMPetrosian Tigran L. (ARM)2539ARM30001
3-Zhao Jun (CHN)2511CHN29709
4IMWojtaszek Radoslaw (POL)2536POL929462
5GMAlekseev Evgeny V. (RUS)2604RUS29925
6GMBerkes Ferenc (HUN)2630HUN29569
7IMJianu Vlad-Cristian (ROM)2444ROM29477
8GMDrozdovsky Yuri (UKR)2510UKR29455
9-Deep Sengupta (IND)2359IND29423
10GMKoneru Humpy (IND)2503IND29399

Humpy became the youngest WIM in Asia and the youngest WGM in India. She also broke Judit Polgar's record of youngest female to become a full fledged GM at the age of 15 years and 1 month (Judit achieved the title at the age of 15 years and 4 months)

Koneru won the British Women's Championship in 2000 and in 2002. In 2003, she won the 10th Asian Women's Individual Championship and the Indian Women's Championship. In 2005, she won the North Urals Cup, a round-robin tournament held in Krasnoturyinsk, Russia featuring ten of the strongest female players in the world at the time.

Finishing ahead of all the legendary women players at the age of just 18

She participated in the Women's World Chess Championship for the first time in 2004 and since then, she has competed in every edition of the event held with the knockout format. Koneru reached the semifinals in 2004, 2008 and 2010 and also qualified as the challenger in 2011. That was the closest she has been to becoming women's World Champion as she lost the match to Hou Yifan. She became only the second woman to have exceeded the 2600 Elo rating mark after Judit Polgar and had a peak rating of 2623 in 2009.

Winning the Arjuna Award in the year 2003

Receiving the Padma Shri at the hands of President APJ Abdul Kalam

Humpy with her father Ashok, who has been her only trainer since childhood. This picture was taken after Humpy was given honorary membership of Goregaon Sports Club in Mumbai. She had finished joint first in the 2009 edition of the Mumbai Mayors' Cup

Humpy with her mother Latha Ashok

Because of all her achievements Humpy an entire chapter dedicated to her in the Telangana state school English text book!

Humpy got married on 13th of August 2014 in a star studded wedding in Vijayawada

Humpy is now not only a wife but also a mother. Her daughter's name is Ahana

It is commendable that after becoming a mother and taking nearly two years of break from chess Humpy is back and will be fighting for her dream to become the Women's World Champion

Humpy is currently ranked number 5 in the world

Train your chess with Humpy

Pia Cramling vs Humpy, 2009

White has just taken the pawn on g2. What did Humpy play?

Humpy vs Stefanova, 1999

Stefanova has moved her queen to b4. How did Humpy finish her off?

Marie Sebag vs Humpy, variation to the game, 2009

White has taken the pawn on f7. What had Humpy prepared?


In a world filled with people looking for quick fame and recognition, Humpy chose the hard path. She wanted to compete on an equal footing with boys and men. With her unflinching dedication and determination she has carved a special place for Indian women's chess on the world map. We wish her the best in her aim to become the Women's World Champion!

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