Humpy, Harika to spearhead India’s challenge in Asian Games; chess league in country planned in December


India will send a strong 10-member chess contingent, including double gold medallist Koneru Humpy and bronze medallist Dronavalli Harika, for the Asian Games scheduled to commence in Hangzhou on September 23. Vidit Gujrathi and young Arjun Erigaisi in men’s and Humpy and Harika in women’s section will compete in the individual categories.

The men’s team comprises Grandmasters D Gukesh, Gujrathi, Erigaisi, P Harikrishna and R Praggnanandhaa.

In the women’s section, Humpy, Harika, R Vaishali, Vantika Aggarwal and Savitha Shri will participate in the team event.

All the players are coming off a gruelling Global Chess League (GCL), where they faced top-notch competition from some of the greatest chess players in the world, including Norway’s five-time world champion Magnus Carlsen.

The team announcement was made on Sunday during the General Body meeting of the All India Chess Federation (AICF) in Kanpur, which was chaired by its president Sanjay Kapoor.

The 36-year-old Humpy, who had said earlier this year that she might skip the Asian Games in Hangzhou due to COVID, will be the senior-most Indian chess player at the quadrennial games. She had won the women’s individual and mixed team gold at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha. The other Asian Games medallist in the side is Harika, who won an individual bronze at the 2010 edition in Guangzhou, after which chess was not a part of the continental games’ curriculum in the 2014 Incheon and 2018 Jakarta editions. Chess is returning to the Asian Games fold after 13 years.

AICF president Sanjay Kapoor said he was confident Indian players will be on the podium in all the events they compete in at the Asian Games.

“Nobody believed me when I said India will win medals at the Chess Olympiad in Mamallapuram. But we ended up winning two medals last year,” said Kapoor on Sunday.

The India ‘B’ team comprising Gukesh, Nihal Sarin, Praggnanandhaa and Raunak Sadhwani clinched bronze in the 44th Chess Olympiad held near Chennai, while the women’s team, comprising Humpy, Vaishali, Tania Sachdev and Bhakti Kulkarni, blew up a great chance against the US, to finish third on the podium.

The team:

Men: D Gukesh, Vidit Gujrathi, Arjun Erigaisi, P Harikrishna and R Praggnanandhaa.

Women: Koneru Humpy, D. Harika, R Vaishali, Vantika Aggarwal and Savitha Shri.

Indian Chess League


The AICF will start the tendering process of the Indian Chess League, it plans to launch in December this year, in the next 15 days.

The franchise-based league, which will be modelled on the lines of the Indian Premier League (IPL), will have 6-8 teams.

“We have to change the face of Indian chess. It will be like the IPL,” said Kapoor.

Kapoor said that every state chess association will receive Rs seven lakh each year and hoped that with the blueprint he has set during the meeting in Kanpur, the state bodies could expect to get around Rs 25 lakh as ex-gratia in the next three-four years.

“The AICF is also going to buy 6,000-7,000 chess boards to distribute to state associations.”

He also said the AICF will form a management board to run the sport professionally in the country.

“We have to change our mindset to grow. We’ve got to think about our lacunas, our shortcomings and we have to work on that all the time. In three years’ time we will not need any government funding,” he said.

On whether he had envisage a role for the likes of Indian chess legends like Viswanathan Anand and Humpy, Kapoor said, “They are with us. Anand is a deputy president of (international chess federation) FIDE. He is always there with the federation (AICF). Anand is an icon and is face is very important for Indian chess,” said Kapoor.

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