“Women, by their nature, are not exceptional chess players.”–Gary Kasparov, former world chess champion
” We want more women players to take up chess.”–Viswanathan Anand, more recent former world chess champion
“I get more upset when I lose at Monopoly.”–Magnus Carlsen, current world chess champion.
Whoo boy. With a name like Humpy, who cares what she does? Well, maybe her countryman, Viswanathan Anand, cares. And maybe her naysayer, Gary Kasparov, is embarrassed.
You see, Humpy Koneru is currently the second highest rated female chess player in the world, and held the record–for a time– as the youngest woman ever to attain grandmaster designation. Here at TBOFN, we just love awesome competitors with even more awesome names. I’ll get to the origin of that name in a bit, but just a little more of her chess accomplishments first.
Born in India in 1987, she achieved grandmaster status in 2002 at the age of 15 years, one month, 27 days, surpassing the record of the legendary Judit Polgar by some three months. To give you an idea how impressive Polgar’s record was when she set it in 1991, at the time it was the record for the youngest ever by any person, male or female, beating the previous mark set by one Bobby Fischer in the 1960’s. Maybe you’ve hard of him? (The current male record holder, by the way, Sergey Karjakin, attained the title at age 12 years and 7 months. I think he started playing in utero.)
Anyway, Humpy’s female grandmaster record has since been surpassed, but she is still rated on the edge of the top 100 players in the world, and she still has the best name in the game. Interstingly enough, her name was originally Hampi, but her father changed it to Humpy, apparently because he thought that sounded Russian. How that sounds Russian and why he desired that for her is anybody’s guess. Anyway, by any name, I would not care to run into her across a chess board.
I leave you, though, with my favorite chess quote of all time. It’s from another former world champion, Boris Spassky.
He was asked, “which do you prefer, sex or chess?’
He replied: “it depends on the position.”