Koneru Humpy prepares for the Cairns Cup challenge

CHENNAI: The year 2019 was memorable for Koneru Humpy . Not only did she achieve the rapid world crown in Moscow in December, but the 32-year-old artist obtained consistent performances that placed her at the top of the women's Grand Prix ranking after the conclusion of 2 rounds. Humpy needs a top 2 in the tournament, which has two more editions left, to enter the Women's Candidates.

Humpy's consistent form was acclaimed for nothing less than the current women's world champion Ju Wenjun . He certainly has a good chance of winning the Candidates. He is good at positional games and has also played women Chess Championship game in the past, Wenjun had told TOI after retaining the women's world title last month. Humpy, on the other hand, is not surprised by what Wenjun said. It is good that Wenjun said this. In fact, many Chinese players and even coaches have told me that they consider me a strong contender for them. If we look at the world rankings, I am next to her and everyone expects (that goes well against her), the world number 3 told TOI on Monday.

She may be close to sealing a place in the Candidates, but Humpy is not reflecting much on that. I am currently not thinking about Candidates since I have a tournament in the next few days. The Cairn glass is a very strong event with the top-10 women players taking part in it. I have one more edition of Grand Prix to go -in May. I will think about the Candidates once I finish that event," said Humpy. The Cairn glass - to be held from February 6 to 17 in St Louis - will see Humpy taking on the likes of Wenjun, D Harika , Katheryna Lagno, Dzagnidze Nana among others.

In his attempt to be in the best possible way, Humpy, in recent weeks, has been working on his middle and final game. As a player, there are always areas where you feel you can improve. I've been working on my intermediate and final game. I also feel the need to expand my openings a bit too, Humpy said.