India’s Koneru Humpy won the 2019 World rapid chess championship which ended on Saturday evening in Moscow. The winner of the women’s rapid was determined in a playoff that ended with Humpy beating Lei Tingjie in the Armageddon.

Humpy had stopped playing chess for nearly two years from 2016 to 2018 because she became a mother. But within a year of returning to the game, she has won a prestigious title.

“I really didn’t expect to play the tie-break games,” said Humpy after her triumph. “I managed to win my rapid games in the last two rounds and got a chance to win the title. It was a comfortable win in the end.”

After two days and eight rounds of play, there were four players sharing the first place, with 6.5/8: Irina Bulmaga, Tan Zhongyi, Lei Tingjie, and Mariya Muzychuk. The second tier, with 6/8 was made up of Humpy Koneru, Olga Girya, Kateryna Lagno, Harika Dronavalli, Ekaterina Atalik, and Anna Muzychuk.

The final round of the women’s rapid started with Lei Tingjie alone at the top with 9/11, followed by Tan Zhongyi on 8.5 and no fewer than five players, including Humpy, on eight points.

On board two in the final round, with both players having a couple of seconds on their clock, Zhongyi offered a draw to Humpy Koneru who immediately refused. A few seconds later, under time pressure, Zhongyi blundered and lost.

Tingjie needed just a draw in the final round to win the title after Zhongyi lost but Atalik came up with the big win to deny the Chinese. This meant that three players were now tied for the top place: Tingjie, Humpy, and Atalik.

And Humpy came through in fine style to seal a magnificent triumph.

“When I won my first game in the morning, I didn’t have any expectations to finish first,” said Humpy. “I thought finishing in the top three would be a great result. But when I reached the tie-break, I thought it was a great chance to win my first world title.

“I lost the first game on time, but came back in the second game. It was a gambling game, but I won. In the final game, a better position and it was a comfortable win. I am very happy and excited about this victory. People were expecting me to win the classical world championship for many years but I lost in the knockouts each time. Surely, no one expected me to win the rapids because I was seeded 13th and I was never too good in this format. So this is an unexpected victory for me.”