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10 masterpieces from top women players of India

by Sagar Shah - 08/03/2020

Today 8th of March 2020 is celebrated as International Women's Day. Indian chess is blessed with some amazing women chess players who made an indelible mark in the world chess. In order to pay our tribute to all of these champion fighters, we asked some of the best women players of our country to share with us one of their favourite games ever! As the day passed by we received ten amazing games! From world no.2 Koneru Humpy to 14-year-old phenom Divya Deshmukh, we have some fantastic games brought together and annotated by IM Sagar Shah. Seeing them you begin to believe that if people can play to the best of their abilities they can create masterpieces which will be remembered for years to come. 

Indian chess has been blessed with the presence of some of the strongest women players on the planet. With Humpy at the top as world no.2, Harika closely following her, and a nice balance of youth and experience in top 20 players of the country, Indian women's chess is currently looking better than ever! We have seven players in top 20 who are born after the year 2000!

Top 20 female players in India

On this women's day (8th of March 2020), we decided to ask the best women players of India about their favourite game they have played till date! It was very interesting to see their choices. Some players chose a game because of the competitive element like breaking through the 2600 barrier, or beating the first GM etc. While some players chose games which were filled with beautiful sacrifices! The choice of the games also tells you a lot about the mindset of these champions! Without revealing anything further, let's enjoy these assorted gems!

Koneru Humpy (2586, India no.1)

Koneru Humpy, world no.2 and has a list of unending achievements. Just to jot down a couple - she has fought for the highest title against Hou Yifan and in 2019 won the World Rapid Championships. She recently also won the strongest tournament in the history of women's chess - the Cairns Cup 2020. | Photo; Amruta Mokal

"One of my most memorable wins was against Evgeny Miroshnichenko. This game played in Abu Dhabi in 2007 helped me to breach the 2600 Elo mark for the first time in my chess career.


Koneru Humpy vs Evgeny Miroshnichenko, Abu Dhabi 2007

The board is wide open. How did Humpy make a move that showed exactly what was wrong with Black's position.

R. Vaishali (2393, India no.3)

One of the biggest hopes of Indian chess. R. Vaishali , just 18 years old and already has a rating of 2393, WGM title, two IM norms and one GM norm! She is also two time World Youth Champion in under-12 and under-14! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

"I like my game against Jelinek Michal World U-16 Olympiad 2016 because I sacrificed my Queen and Rook for 3 pawns and mated with 2 Knights and a Bishop! It was a beautiful game! I have seen many games like this but never got it in my game! It was a very nice feeling."


Jelinek vs Vaishali, World Youth Olympiad 2016

It's time for a bolt from the blue! Black to move.

Bhakti Kulkarni (2391, India no.5)

Bhakti Kulkarni hails from Goa, the smallest state in India. She is now 27 years old, but it seems that as time goes by, she keeps getting better at chess. With a rating of 2391, she has been a former Asian Women's Champion and is the reigning national champion since two years now. 

"The game that you are about to see is very special for me as it was my 1st win over a Grandmaster. This win gave me tremendous confidence that I became WGM within the next few months!"


Ibragim Khamrakulov vs Bhakti Kulkarni, Porto Carras 2010

Bhakti is a pawn down and White seems to be doing really well here. What was it that Black had prepared? Black to move.

Nandidhaa P.V. (2365, India no.7)

WGM Nandhidhaa PV not only is a WGM, but has scored all her three IM norms as well. With a rating of 2365, she is well on her way to becoming one of the strongest players in Indian women's chess | Photo: John Saunders

"My favourite game is against Praggnanandhaa at the Gibraltar open 2020. I like that game as it was my first win against a 2600+ opponent."


Nandhidhaa vs Praggnanandhaa, Gibraltar Masters 2020

It was impressive to see how Nandhidhaa tried to attack Pragg's king without a worry in the world! She pushed the pawns and was rewarded with a full point!

Soumya Swaminathan (2351, India no.9)

IM Soumya Swaminathan won the Indian Junior Girls Championships thrice. Later she went on to win the World Junior girls title as well. She has been the national champion and Commonwealth Champion and one of the most prolific female players in the country | Photo: Amruta Mokal

"My favourite game is perhaps my game against Zahar Efimenko from last year's FIDE Grand Swiss. I like it because I found some good ideas over the board. And because it gave me a lot of confidence."


Soumya Swaminathan vs Zahar Efimenko, Grand Swiss 2019

White has tremendously active pieces. It is time to finish off the opponent! White to play

Eesha Karavade (2345, India no.10)

IM Eesha Karavade has been one of the top Indian players for years now. Her tremendous opening knowledge combined with her deep sense of positional play has not only made her the Commonwealth Champion in the past, but has helped her represent India in four Chess Olympiads. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

"My favourite game is from the World Open 2012. Against Amanov Mesgen. I was white. Normally my games are long positional wins. This was a double exchange sacrifice. Plus somehow I had managed to attack even after starting with 1.Nf3."


Eesha Karavade vs Mesgen Amanov, World Open 2012

The position is quite imbalanced here. White knights are aiming at the d5 square, Black stead is ready to jump into d4. What did Eesha (White) do here?

Vijayalakshmi Subbaraman (2332, India no.11)

S. Vijayalakshmi is an Indian legend. She broke all the barriers and became India's first WGM. It's a pity that she couldn't become a full-fledged GM as her rating was close to 2495 at one point and she already has scored all her norms! But by no means has she given up and the fact that she is still fight

"My game against Mikhail Kobalija in 1998 was probably my best game ever. It was in Linares, 1998, January. That game was so unique in the sense, I played an opening according to the book and my opponent being a strong GM and very high rated at that point of time, thought otherwise. All I had on board was my faith and Intuition. The game turned out to be a very beautiful one and on winning I got my second WGM norm as well."


Mikhail Kobalia vs S. Vijayalakshmi

...Rd8 is a possible move here, but Black has something even stronger. Can you find it? 

Divya Deshmukh (2305, India no.13)

Divya Deshmukh is just 14 years old. Her highest rating one year was 2431, making her India no.3 at the age of just 13 years. In the last year or so, she has shed over a 100 Elo points but with the experience gained, we can be sure of a big leap coming soon! | Photo: Puneet Jaiswal

"One of my games that I like is against Zakhartsov from the Aeroflot Open 2019. I quite like the piece sacrifice that I made. Although it was not 100% correct, it was complex enough for my GM opponent to go wrong!"


Divya Deshmukh vs Vladimir Zakhartsov, Aeroflot 2019

You are in Divya's (White's) shoes. Time for a not 100% sound sacrifice!

Vantika Agrawal (2286, India no.14)

Recently Vantika won the silver medal at the World Youth Championships under-18. She is one of the brightest juniors of our country and is well on track to becoming a WGM soon | Photo: Amruta Mokal 

"I like my game against GM Lugovsky because 2 of my pawns reached the 7th rank, then I got 2 queens on the board and was going to promote a third one!"


Vantika Agrawal vs Maxim Lugovsky, Mayor's Cup 2019

White has two queens on the board and about to get the third one. Before Vantika could go finding for the third queen, her opponent, GM Lugovsky resigned!

Nisha Mohota (2195, India no.35)

In 1995 when Nisha Mohota became a WIM, she was the first one to achieve the feat from her state and was also the youngest in India to have achieved the feat. She has been a former National Champion and has represented India at three Olympiads. Her career high Elo was 2416. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

"My win against Soumya Swaminathan from National A, 2011 was very special. Every move of the game is very energetic. I love beauty in chess and here I managed to end the game beautifully! I specially like 14. Be3. The start of the  beautiful journey!"


Nisha Mohota vs Soumya Swaminathan, National Women A, 2011

Black's position is a complete mess, but how do you make your opponent resign after your next move? White to move.

Women Power in ChessBase India

We, at ChessBase India have great respect for women. In fact one of our two founders is a woman and as on today nearly 50% of the employees in the company are women! They work day in and out to keep the company going and we are extremely grateful to have them in the organization!

Clockwise from Top left - Amruta Mokal, Supriya Bhat, Chetna Mhatre, Dipika Joshi

Amruta Mokal: Co-Founder & COO, the backbone of the company and the one who makes sure that the company operates smoothly on a day to day basis.

Supriya Bhat: Business Development Manager, the one who manages the backend of ChessBase India and keeps up the high level of customer service of the company

Dipika Joshi: Purchase Manager, you get your serial keys on time after you buy the products thanks to Dipika!

Chetna Mhatre: Administrative Assistant, taking care of all the little things at the ChessBase India office in Mumbai.

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Related news:
The evolution of women's chess in India

@ 08/03/2021 by Sagar Shah (en)