Meet Harika, Junior World Champion (girls' section)

by ChessBase
8/24/2008 – She is seventeen, hails from Andhra Pradesh, India, and has just won the Under 20 Junior World Championship, ahead of the international – especially Eastern European – competition by a point and a half. Harika Dronavalli is is one of the nicest and brightest young ladies in the junior chess scene. Her goal: to be like Judit Polgar. Indepth interview by Özgür Akman.

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The World Junior Championship was held in Gaziantep between 2-16 August, the sixth largest city and one of the major economic centers in Turkey. Abhijeet Gupta and Harika Dronavalli, both from India, won the World Junior titles, after dramatic turnarounds, which are frequent in World Junior Championships.

Interview with Harika Dronavalli

By Özgür Akman for ChessBase

The superficial impression was that you won the title comfortably but it is never that easy, right?

Yes, right, it is never easy. I wanted to win it so badly before I came. It is so special to win the Gold Medal here. I am very happy that I won my first world junior girl title in Turkey. There is also a third reason that after missing the title last year in Armenia, I thought I should win the title this year. All of the games lasted very long and they were fighting, but I knew the conditions provided here were going to be great from my experience back in March, so I had no excuse but to win the title.

So, we find out that you have good impressions from the Atatürk International Women Masters.

World Junior Champion Girls 2008: Harika Dronavalli from India

I have been to three tournaments in Turkey. I played in 2005 World Junior in Istanbul. Actually I have been here before in the 2005 edition for World Junior Championship. Until now, I can see the development even in the way everything is organized.

And your impressions about Turkish chess?

It is really a great achievement that someone from Turkey should win a medal in the World Junior. Chess is becoming more and more well-known. I hope Turkey will have more successes in the future.

It must been a boost for India, one of the fastest-developing chess countries in the world, that it won two titles this time – a historic feat that has no match, isn’t it?

It is great that we won both titles. I think it is very rare for a country to win both the junior and junior girls title at the same time. I am very happy that my country achieved this. We have our great world champion Anand, and are winning more and more medals in youth and junior championships.

The winners of the World Junior Championship in Gaziantep: WFM Nazi Paikdze (Georgia), WGM Nariya Muzychuk (Ukraine), IM Harika Dronavalli (India), WFM Kübra Öztürk (Turkey), WIM Mary Ann Gomes (India).

So India is a chess country with the world champion, both world junior champions and many more talents on the way…

It is growing rapidly. We have many young talented players. I simply hope that we will get more and more…We haven’t got any medals in the Olympiad, I hope that will change this year, also.

What about your short and long run goals in your chess career?

First of all, I want to win the grandmaster title. I have no norms yet, but I want to finish my norms and become grandmaster. Then, winning the world championship after that.

And you are going to play in the World Women’s Championship, right? Any specific aim in your mind?

I don’t know. I don’t have any specific aim, but I just want to go there, play and see what happens.

Where are you going to play after the World Women’s Championship?

I will take part in World Mind Games in Beijing, China. After that, European Club Cup and Olympiad.

Which club are you going to play in European Club Cup?

I will play in Economist Saratov, the club I played for during Russian Teams Championship also.

Do you play in any other chess league around the world?

This year I also played in the Chinese league.

Would you ever consider playing in the Turkish league?

I have not received any offer. I already read an article about the league on ChessBase, but I have no other knowledge about the league apart from that.

Which game you played here was your best here in Gaziantep?

Actually, I liked each and every game I played here since all of them lasted very long. I played my first game at ten o’clock and finished my game at three o’clock. I came back to the hotel, I took the 4:20 p.m. shuttle [The round was starting at 5 p.m.]. I was playing with my compatriot. That game finished at nine o’clock. I played most of the games until the very end.

Two rounds per day is a quite heavy schedule, right?

When you play one long game and then a short game , it might be understandable. However, every game I won lasted five or six hours. I was just saying to myself “Oh, no!” after that game.

Who is your idol in chess?

Judit Polgar.

Not Anand?

We all grew up with games of Anand and every Indian player respects him very much. However, I want to be like Judit Polgar.

What do you think about separate categories for women?

Now seperate tournaments are growing a lot: Atatürk Masters, North Urals and also a tournament in Azerbaijan... A lot of players are very happy to play to have an opportunity to play in more tournaments.

Is there any inherent difference in the way man and women play chess?

Harika a few years ago...

Of course there is difference between man and women not because of weakness. Maybe one female plays chess among seventy male players. For example, take Hou Yifan. She is playing at a very top level. Maybe holding the junior championships and mixing boys and girls might be an adequate solution. Mentally girls can be better prepared to play against boys starting from an early age.

Hobbies? Do you read a lot?

Normally, I do not read many books. However, “Breaking Through” really motivated me. My coach sometimes tells me books to read.

Who are you training with?

N.V.S. Raju is my personal coach. He is not a top level player but he is helping in every aspect of my life for the tournaments.

Girls' section – final standings after 13 rounds

SNo. Title Name Rtg FED
1 IM HARIKA Dronavalli 2461 IND
2 WGM MUZYCHUK Mariya 2413 UKR
31 WFM OZTURK Kubra 2188 TUR
7 WIM GOMES Mary Ann 2316 IND
18 WIM MIKADZE Miranda 2258 GEO
4 WGM NEMCOVA Katerina 2372 CZE
38 KAZIMOVA Narmin 2148 AZE
3 WFM BODNARUK Anastasia 2394 RUS
10 WIM SOUMYA Swaminathan 2293 IND
25 WIM NADIG Kruttika 2241 IND

Fact File

  • Full name: Dronavalli Harika
  • Date of birth: January 12, 1991
  • Birth place: Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India.
  • Family members: father Ramesh, mother Swarna, older sister Anusha
  • Coach: N.V.S. Raju
  • School: tenth standard student at Shri Venkatehware Bal Kuter, Guntur.
  • Elo ratings: 2461 (July 2008)
  • Titles: WIM, WGM, IM

Early highlights of Harika's Career

  1. Winner; Asian U-10 (Girls) at Bikaner (Rajasthan) in 2002. Also won the U-18 title in Asian Open Chess Championship in 2002 at Bikaner.
  2. Bronze medal, World Youth Chess Festival (U-12, Girls) at Greece in 2002
  3. In the World Cup Chess at Hyderabad in 2002 she defeated former women world champion Maya Chidurdanidze.
  4. Became youngest women International Master in Asia at 12 yrs.
    (i) First WIM Norma from Asian Youth Championship at Tehran 2002
    (ii) Second WIM Norm Women National ‘A’ (India’s premier national championship) in 2002.
    (iii) Third WIM norm from world Junior Championship in 2002 held at Goa (India)
  5. Won the board prize (Gold medal) on fourth board in Asian Team championship at Jodhpur (Rajasthan) in 2003.
  6. Won Silver medal in women category at commonwealth chess championship in Mumbai (India) 2003. Here she got her maiden WGM & IM norms.
  7. Silver medal, Asian Women Championship at Calcutta (India) in 2003. Harika finished her second WGM & IM norms.
  8. Winner of Bronze medal in U-12 category of world youth chess festival at Greece in 2002.
  9. Became youngest WGM in Asia by winning the Commonwealth U-18 title at Mumbai (India) in 2004. In addition, she collected her third and final WGM norm.
  10. She got her third and final IM norm to become International Master at Chennai in International Open Tournament.
  11. At Mallorca in 36th chess Olympiad, she represented the Indian women team on third board and had the distinction of not losing any game in her maiden appearance. She collected 4½ points from 9 games, drawing all. Indian women team secured 9th position.
  12. She became world U-14 Girls Champion at Elista last year (2004).
  13. Won Silver medal in Asian Junior Girls championship at Bikaner, in December, 2004.

    ChessBase portrait of Harika from February 2005


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