Born: 12 January 1991, Guntur, India
FIDE Title: GM
FIDE ID: 5015197
Rating: 2503 (Jun 2014)
Peak rating: 2525 (Nov 2010)
World rank (women): 16
From the Promised Land of chess, where our game is almost as “cool” as cricket and where facing an unrated player will certainly not guarantee you a point, yet another famous player was bound to rise: Harika Dronavalli. Although introduced to chess a bit later than most GMs, Harika refused to allow this little detail turn into a handicap. While watching her elder sister play, she got attracted by the 32 pieces, started to move them herself and soon the inevitable happened; the steady and smooth progress which the stubborn girl displayed paid its due: Harika became the proud owner of three gold medals in the World Youth Championships U14, U18 and U20 categories, reaching the Worl Top 10 at the age of 19.
Perhaps, what attracted even more the Indian and the worldwide media alike, was the early on breakthrough, when Harika entered the strong national team and represented her country in the 2004 Olympiad as early as the age of 13. She drew all her 9 games and eight years later we could see her ascending to the top board in the 2012 Istanbul Olympiad, where she gave a good account of herself remaining unbeatable.
Harika Dronavalli had great results not only in women events but also when faced male opposition, on her quest to become just like her model – Judit Polgar. In the footsteps of the Hungarian superwoman, Harika had yet another unbreakable performance in the 2012 Hogeschool Zeeland Open from Holland, where the Indian GM tied for the 3rd place with an undefeated 7/9.
Even more recently, in this year Reykjavik Open, Harika could have made the word “invincible” her trademark but she did lose one game from the 10 she played; it was only against the tournament winner, Li Chao, which didn't disturb too much her overall excellent result: 7.5/10, plus 20 elo points and a 2623 performance.
If many players and chess connoisseurs would be happy to master the “solid or positional play”, Harika wants to “complicate matters” by choosing a more aggressive over the board attitude. Yet, when the moment comes, she will be the last one to hesitate executing her opponent in a very straight forward way.
The versatile player proved she was always within the margins of the World women title, but her climbing to the coveted crown was abruptly interrupted in 2010 (when she reached the quarterfinals) and 2012 (when she lost, in semifinals this time, to Stefanova).
Yet, with the dedication, concentration and stamina behind the board, one can feel that Harika's chess approach is well-directed: all the goals she set so far became reality; what she has set in her mind for the future, we will surely find out.
A small example of Harika's strength (Siranush Andriasian – Harika Dronavalli, Wch U20, 2006):
Black to move
The game continuation is the best and the only way for Black to avoid being worse; but that implied very accurate calculation:
15...d5! 16.exd5 Qxd5 17.Be4 and...what now?!
17...Rxg2+! the point of Black's 15th move; 18.Kh1 didn't help much for the outcome of the game since Harika had more bullets in stock:
18...Rxf2! and after 19.Bxd5 Bxd5+ 20.Kg1 Rg2+ the well-known windmill mechanism brought Black the point (21.Kh1 Rd2+ 22.Kg1 Rxd1 23.Raxd1 Bxc4).