Nalchik (Russia):As Koneru Humpy progresses towards the women's world title, Indian chess is on the cusp of a unique record of having all four world champions at the same time.
She has played superbly and is coming to form as was evident with her 2-0 win over China's Shen Yang to move into semi-finals.
Humpy, who says she has grown up dreaming of becoming a World Champion is now close to realising it.
"I won four Junior World titles and managed to win several open men's tournaments and Asian Championships. Of course, my most cherished dream has always been to become a Women's World Champion," she told IANS in an interview.
If Humpy wins the Women's World Championship title here, India will have all reigning champions - the men's world champion in Viswanathan Anand, men's world junior champion in Abhijeet Gupta, who won the world Under-20 title in Gaziantep, Turkey last month, and the women's Under-20 champion in Dronavalli Harika.
Humpy holds the second highest rating ever in women's chess history and is the highest rated player here at the Women's World Championship.
Following are excerpts from interview:
Q: How difficult is it to hold leadership in women's chess?
A: It is a rather difficult task because any player who aims at reaching high level will emulate me. Besides, the level of chess playing has gone up enormously. Computer chess training programmes have been created. All in all, I'd say that the rating of the player doesn't mean much. The important thing any player should concentrate on is the way he or she plays.
Q: It is not the first time that you came to play at the tournament as a leader. Yet you have never been a Champion?
A: Actually it is my third World Championship. I managed to advance to the semifinal at the first one. I won in the tournament in Ekaterinburg (Russia). I also won four Junior World titles and managed to win several open men's tournaments and Asian Championships. Of course, my most cherished dream has always been to become a Women's World Champion.
Q: One of the Grand Prix tournaments is planned to be held in Nalchik next year. Are you going to come here again?
A: Truly speaking I don't know the details but I would like to participate.
Q: How did you begin playing chess?
A: My father taught me to play chess when I was a little girl and he is still my coach. My younger sister also used to play but she has given up now. My father always accompanies me to different tournaments.
Q: How do men take the fact that women in your country play chess?
A: Traditions are changing in India. Women didn't work and used to be illiterate. Now the situation has fundamentally changed. Women are equally represented in education, science and other domains, actively go in for different sports.
Q: How much time a day do you devote to chess?
A: I devote 6-7 hours per day. And I play in 6-8 tournaments a year. So, as you can see most part of my life is devoted to chess playing.
Q: Will it last forever?
A: I can't say for sure. I will play until I stop getting pleasure from it.
Q: What if your future husband objects to your playing chess?
A: I think it should be agreed on before the marriage. (Laughs)
Q: How and with whom do you usually spend you free time?
A: I prefer to spend my free time with my family. We go to restaurants and visit theatres. I also like to play badminton.
Q: Do chess players have their own superstitions?
A: I don't really believe in them. I get concentrated before the game, become estranged and shrink into my own shell.