Born on January 12, 1991, in the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, Harika Dronavalli is an Indian Chess Women Grandmaster.
Full name: Harika Dronavalli
Title: Women Grandmaster
Born: January 12, 1991
Place of birth: Gorantla, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India
World Ranking: 576
Classical (Std): 2517
Born on January 12, 1991, in the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, Harika Dronavalli is a product of a string of skilled Indian Grandmasters. Harika is a well-known Indian chess player who possesses the Grandmaster (GM) Fide Title, known for her success at such an early age. Harika followed the legacy of Humpy Koneru, becoming the second Indian woman ever to covet the grandmaster title for men. She is also notable for winning three bronze medals in 2012, 2015, and 2017 respectively, in the Women’s World Chess Championship. Because of her consecutive achievements in the sport, she was awarded by the Indian government the Arjuna Award for years 2007 to 2008.
Dronavalli also coveted the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix in 2016, allowing her to rise from 11th place to the 5th rank in FIDE’s overall ranking for women. Harika obtained the silver medal in the 2000 World Youth Girl’s U10 Championships, following this up with one more silver medal in the following year. While she was mainly admired for her extensive regional junior achievements, one of the attention-catching was when she won a gold medal during the 2002 Asian Girl’s U18 games at 11 years old. In fact, Harika has won an incredible amount of 16 medals at the national level throughout her entire career.
Apart from this, she also regularly participates in the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix Series, winning the Chengdu event in 2016. Since then, Dronavalli has continually represented India in various Olympiads and tournaments, bringing back-to-back recognition and success to her country. She was recognized for her valuable contribution to the sports field in 2019 and was awarded the Padma Shri – the fourth-highest award for civilians in the Republic of India. Her excellence also gained her a consecutive feature as the Chess Player of the Year in the magazine Times of India and was also included in the Verve magazine for being one of the top 40 famous sportspersons. Dronavalli also listed Viswanathan Anand, Vladimir Kramnik, and Judit Polgar as her role models and inspirations in playing chess.
Harika is the child of Mrs. Swarna and Mr. Ramesh Dronavalli and attended Dri Venkateswara Bala Kuteer in Guntur, a private school in the state of Andhra Presha. Her father used to work at the Panchayat Raj subdivision in Mangalagiri as a deputy executive engineer.
Harika’s interest in chess began at an early age. She was eight when her father taught her how to play the game, which eventually progressed smoothly since then. As a kid, Harika doesn’t seem to be fazed by new challenges and seems more ready than ever to take them on. When she represented her country in the Olympiad at 13 years old, she impressively drew all the entire nine games. After four Olympiads in the 2012 Istanbul, she never lost a game; instead, she won four and was considered one of the leading performances. In 20120, she made it to the quarterfinals, going even better in 2012 though she lost to Antonaneta Stefanova in the game. She also proved that she was competent enough to play among men, finishing the tournament in third place at the Hogeschool Zeeland Open with an unbeatable score of 7/9.
At the early age of 13, Harika Dronavalli already made her first achievement by obtaining the championship for the World Youth Chess. Her achievements only reached all-time highs as she won the U18 category at 15 years old and the World Junior Title under the U20 category when she was 17. She also reached the incredible feat of being part of the World Top 10 at 19 years old.
After winning numerous tournaments and proving her skills repeatedly, Harika finally achieved her Grandmaster title in 2011.
She also gained a couple of national-level achievements, having won the gold medal in 2009 during the National Women Chess Championship and won 16 awards in various national tournaments, including the Women B and A championship and Sub-junior and National Junior Girls Titles. Her knockout event at the Women’s World Chess Championship in 2017 was especially memorable since she only came within a minimal breadth of defeating Tan Zhongyi. Throughout the game, she was neck to neck with the Chinese grandmaster, though she eventually lost in a tense match of Armageddon. She also gained the 5th rank in the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix and was awarded a gold medal during the same event.
If you liked learning about Harika, you may also be interested in reading about other top players like Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura.