Star India chess player Dronavalli Harika is raring to go all out and give her best shot to win a medal at the 44th Chess Olympiad, kickstarting on Thursday in Mamallapuram, Chennai. The 31-year-old has been the backbone of the Indian women’s team at the Olympiad for the last 18 years. Playing her eighth Olympiad in a row, Harika is in the process of setting the national record of continuous successive Olympiad appearances since she made her debut in 2004.
“I am optimistic about our chances but don’t want to put any pressure on ourselves. Of course, we are the top seeds on paper but at the end of the day, it matters on how we perform collectively,” Harika said in a statement. Pregnant in the advanced stages, Harika said she is still in the best possible shape mentally and is determined to give her best.
“Off-board, I have tried to keep myself in the best shape possible and chess-wise have kept up my practice and played in some online chess events till last week to stay in touch. I am very happy with the team composition and I am sure that we will be aspiring to perform above our capacity,” said Harika. The combination of Koneru Humpy on the top board and Harika on the second board offers an almost insurmountable barrier for their opponents and eases the pressure on the lower boards.