'Chess kept me away from Class X exams'

Chess kept me away from Class X exams

Says Grandmaster Koneru Humpy about how chess consumed her student days and she almost quit school in Class VI to focus on her favourite game Chess...

Says Grandmaster Koneru Humpy about how chess consumed her student days and she almost quit school in Class VI to focus on her favourite game

Chess is all that I know of, all these years. Right from the age of four, I have been engrossed in the world of chess. At home, nobody speaks about anything except chess. My father was a chess champion even before I was born. So it was natural for me to fall in love with chess before I knew what it was all about. I did have childhood, but with different connotations; I did have student life, but with atypical undertones.


Up to Class IV, I attended school regularly. In Classes V and VI, I attended school only for half days. I used to practice chess the rest of the day. Later, I joined Chalapati Residential School at Lam, Guntur to study Class VII. But I never attended classes as chess practice consumed a chunk of my time. My mother used to keep the notes ready for the final exams. I would just read the notes and write the examination. The same pattern continued for two more years for the examinations of Class VIII and IX.

I could not attend my Class X final exams due to continuous chess tournaments. When I was 15 years, I became the Grandmaster - not a mere woman Grandmaster. I was the youngest woman to achieve the Grandmaster at that time. So that is where my student days ended in terms of academics.

However, I've always been a student on the move. Traveling became my new teacher. At the age of ten, I undertook my first trip abroad. I participated in the chess tournament at Cannes, France. So far, I have travelled to 50 countries. In this new leap of learning, I keep on meeting new people and try to understand their way of living and the different cultures.

So, I did not lose the pleasure of being a regular student. I enjoy playing chess. I enjoyed my childhood by playing my favourite game chess. I feel excited and even thrilled when I beat men in the game. In 2007, in Netherlands and Luxembourg where men players also played, I won the championship which was not a mean achievement.

Of course, there were disappointments, when I lost the game in the second round of women's world championship in 2006. Again in 2008, I have reached the semi finals but lost to Chinese player Hou Yifan. I think that only people with the 'killer instinct' become good chess players.

I felt elated when I won the gold medal for the country during Asian Games at Doha in 2006. In fact, I won two gold medals one individual and the second for the team. I received Padma Shri award for that achievements in 2007. I am looking forward to participate in the Grand Prix on June 15 at Armenia.

(As told toM V Syam Sundar)

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