Double the joy

She’s getting married this week (August 19) but right now, Dronavalli Harika is basking in the glow of victory. The Chess grandmaster successfully lead the Indian women’s contingent to win Gold (Blitz event), Silver (Rapid) and Bronze (Classical section) at the recently concluded Asian Team Championship in Iran.

Reflecting on her win, Harika says, “The victory means a lot to us because winning against a tough opponent is difficult, but we beat them. It has given us great confidence for our forthcoming matches,” she says.

Because the 27-year-old was in two minds about participating in the event, the victory is sweeter. “Initially, I did not want to participate in the tourney because I did not practise; I was busy with my wedding preparations. So I was out of touch and was even scared whether I would be able to do justice. But my father and my fiancé (Karteek Chandra) encouraged me,” she says. 

Harika recounts that shopping till the last minute, before departing to Iran, and playing games back to back (despite suffering from diarrhoea) for long hours have been very exhausting.

But she’s excited about getting married in high spirits. “The win is very important to me, personally as well, because I wanted to enter into wedlock in a good mood,” she reveals, adding, “Karteek had been in touch with me all throughout and he was encouraging me by saying I would win gold.”

Her next tournament, the 43rd Chess Olympiad, is scheduled for September. So how difficult is it to stay focused? “Right now, the focus is on my wedding because it is a special moment,” she reveals, adding, “But chess will always remain my first love. So I am trying my best to balance both.” She says, “Both of us have been travelling a lot in the last six months! We went to Bangkok last month to attend a pre-wedding bash. And we got to know each other very well.”

Harika shares they would be honeymooning at Maldives. “I don’t want to travel much, so we are planning to go to Maldives for just a week’s time. After I return, I shall start prepping for my next tournament.”

The best thing about Karteek (a Hyderabad-based businessman), Harika feels, is that he’s extremely positive and proud of what she does. “And he’s very simple too! For our engagement, he gifted me something that he made.” 

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