Hyderabad: Dronavalli Harika has joined the extraordinary league of sportspersons who have come forward in the cause to help needy people in this Covid-19 pandemic crisis. The chess Grandmaster is the ‘Cause Ambassador’ for ‘Find A Bed’ initiative.
According to Harika, this platform was created by a group of young people in finding beds in the Covid-19 pandemic. “I’m happy to be part of the cause and whatever the initiative that has been taken, I am involved to spread the word for it. They will search beds for the patients,” said Harika.
Harika was also part of the simultaneous online exhibition matches along with four other Grandmasters including Viswanathan Anand and Koneru Humpy that raised funds for Covid-19 relief work in the country. “You feel good when you are part of a cause which can help people. We did it last year too and raised funds. It is sad the pandemic is continuing and we are struggling. We collected around $50,000 and there were many donors who came forward with a big heart. Hopefully, it will change the lives of at least a few people. This is the least we can do in this hour of crisis. It is our responsibility, though,” she added.
The Grandmaster said the pandemic has affected sport and the people in general also. “It is not comfortable to listen to people dying and suffering in this pandemic. It has negative impact but at the same we have to be positive and move on with life.”
Game wise, Harika was not able to play in tournaments because of the second wave of Covid-19. “It is a bit disappointing to be at home and not play tournaments. Of course, there are bigger things in life. People are struggling for their lives and we have try to help people in some way or the other.”
With no tournaments around, her lifestyle has changed. “We are so used to travelling around and we had an active lifestyle. It is different now. It is not easy to be at home. It is challenging to sit at home but we are also quick learners. We try to make use of the time by learning and improving our game. At this hour of crisis, we need to stay motivated and get ready whenever the competition gets started.”
She said many of the tournaments were cancelled last year because of Covid-19 and now some of the tournaments are opening gradually and some closed-door tournaments are also happening. “Looking at the present situation, we don’t know when the tournaments will resume. I hope the Fide-World Cup happens in July in Russia. If everything goes well, I will be playing in that tournament. Last year we didn’t have a choice and we had to play online tournaments. But this year the Fide is looking forward to open up things and resume on-board tournaments.”
On her preparations for the World Cup, she said it is important to understand the situation. “We need to get back to our groove, forgetting the results. Obviously we have to work hard and then play. It is a big challenge to play in any on-board tournament after an 18 months break. It is not clear when the tournaments will start and so we have to remain focused.”
The last tournament that Harika played in was March last year. “Otherwise, I played in all the major online international events. But there is a lot of difference between Online and board tournaments. On-board tournaments, you can see your opponent, see the body language. But when you are online you can’t see your opponent. It is tricky and different. Playing board tournaments are much better than online tournaments. It is not comfortable to be on the screen for so long also.”
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