Interview with World Junior Chess Champion Harika Dronavalli

Source :SIFY
Author :SIFY
Last Updated: Tue, Aug 26th, 2008, 21:46:20hrs
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Interview with World Junior Chess Champion Harika Dronavalli

No one can deny that there is that extra bit of pressure playing as the top seed, but for Harika Dronavalli, who recently won the World Junior Girls Chess championship, it is familiar territory. The 17-year-old has been used to starting her campaign as the number one in age-level categories for quite a while now.

There were no hiccups, no last-minute dashes, just a display of sheer strength from the Andhra Pradesh girl during a tournament in which she bulldozed her way past the opposition with effortless ease, in the process maintaining a clean slate.

It also marked the fulfilment of a goal that a clutch of gold medals at Age Categories had proved was well within her reach.

Viswanathan Anand was the first Indian to win the World Junior in 1987, followed by Koneru Humpy, who won the Girls section in 2001, and then Pentala Harikrishna who won the Boys in 2004.

The World junior is a prestigious title and records do show that many most of the World Champions have been former World junior champs.

Excerpts from Harika’s exclusive interview with Manisha Mohite:

Looking back at the World Junior, how do you rate it?

Harika: This was undoubtedly my dream tournament. Just through the halfway stage of the event, I got to know that I was awarded the Arjuna award and winning the event after that was like a yummy double treat.

Interview with World Junior Boys Chess Champion Abhijit Gupta

Is there more pressure while playing as a top seed?
To be very honest, I just went with one goal in my mind and that was to win the championship. I was totally focused and hardly thought about anything else. So, I did not experience any pressure

Were you happy with the quality of your games here?
I think all my victories were without me getting into inferior positions, but the best was my sixth game, against Dauletova Gulmira from Kazakhistan.

Did the last rounds bring back troubled memories from the previous edition?
Yes, the memories from the last edition did come to haunt me, but only briefly. It was one of the most horrible experiences of my career as I was leading the event and all set for the title but lost in each of the last three rounds. That was the first time that I had lost three consecutive games like this and it affected me badly.

After losing the 11th game, I got a double Black in the 12th round which depressed me and I lost. However, this time, I used that experience to think positively and was very cool from the start till the end.

How did you get interested in chess?
My father is interested in sports and we used to play lot of indoor games as children. Actually, my parents introduced my sister to chess, but it was I who got interested and hooked on to it. When I played my first National championship, I was placed 15th. However, the grandness of the prize-distribution ceremony and the attention showered on the winner impressed me and I made a decision that I should win the title next year. I did win the next year and that’s how my chess journey started.

Has the participation at age-level categories in India and World contributed to your style and attitude?
Yes, age-group tournaments are been really important for my chess career. If I turn back and see, I have many and many titles and medals in age groups, which itself is an inspiration.

Harikrishna and Humpy are from your state. Have their performances inspired you?

When I started my chess career, they had won World titles. I think if you count all our World medals, Andhra Pradesh will have more medals than the total in rest of India. It is very nice to say that we have three World junior titles from Andhra Pradesh out of the five that we have bagged.

What is your training routine?
I do aerobics daily and on do warm-up routine exercises while on tours. I also meditate especially during important events. Apart from that, I spend seven to eight hours on chess daily which sometimes even stretches to ten hours.

Also read:  Vishy Anand's memories of Chennai

Tell us about your coach?
My coach is Mr NVS Rama Raju, from the time I was a nine-year-old. He has been with me right from National U-9 championship to my recent world junior championship. He is very good in opening preparation.

Who are your idols?
Judith Polgar from Hungary and of course, Anand who has reintroduced Chess for us in India.

How is the preparation for the World Chess Championship? How do you look at your chances there?
I didn't getting any time to prepare for World Championship as I trained extensively for World Juniors before and now there is hardly any time. I don’t want to make any predictions, but I will try to do my best.

What are your hobbies?
Reading books(comics), watching movies and television.

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