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Mrudul Dehankar: Another Champion in the making?

by Nagesh Guttula - 09/12/2016

"Despite being occupied with chess, she doesn’t ignore her studies. In fact she is quite brilliant in academics," is what Mrudul's mother Archana Dehankar says. Meet Mrudul Dehankar, one of the most talented young chess players in India. The seventh standard student of Bhavan's Vidya Mandir manages her school, studies and chess to perfection. She recently won the silver in the under-12 World Cadets and is improving her rating at a lightning pace. G. Nagesh tells us more about this girl from Nagpur.

The Queen of Nagpur Chess: Mrudul Dehankar (photo by Priyadarshan Banjan)

To call Mrudul Dehankar (12) a genius would be an understatement. Hailing from a family which showed no inclination towards sports, Mrudul is already a force to reckon with in the chess circuit. The Nagpur girl has won innumerable tournaments. Have a look at her achievements, and it says it all. She has won the Maharashtra State Championship a number of times, silver in the Under-9 Nationals in 2013 and 2014, silver in the Asian Youth in the Under-10 category in Uzbekistan, and World under-12 silver in Georgia recently.


For Mrudul, there’s no place for complacency. “I want to be the World Champion one day,” she declares. Her mother Archana, who is an addidtant professor in the Priyadarshini College of Engineering, recalls, “We had no idea how she developed interest in the game. She played in a tournament in school on her own when she was younger. After that she attended some summer camps, which helped to hone her skills.”

Mrudul with her father Vilas Dehankar at the IIFLW tournament in January 2016 (photo by Priyadarshan Banjan)

A student of Bhavan's BP Vidya Mandir in Nagapur, Mrudul is good in studies as well. Says her mother, “Despite being occupied with chess, she doesn’t ignore her studies. In fact she is quite brilliant in academics. Her school is also very co-operative. She has done her school proud, so the authorities make sure that she gets time to practice.” Mrudul adds, “Now I am in seventh standard and will concentrate hard for another two years before shifting the focus to board exams. After that chess will be my priority.”


A laptop, silver medal, trophy and a diploma is what Mrudul took back home after winning the silver at the under-12 World 2016 (photo by Mrunalini Kunte)

Mrudul recently underwent training at the GM Coaching Camp, Mumbai from chess legend Alon Greenfed. I2V Chess Centre is sponsoring the young wizard. The youngest of two siblings (her elder sister is studying Architecture), Mrudul faces no pressure from her family. “She is on her own and full credit goes to her for her achievements. We don’t enforce anything on her. If she is keen on taking up chess as a profession, she is welcome. Even if she takes to other avenues, like Medical or IIT, it would be her choice,” says Mrudul’s mother.

Praggnanandhaa flanked by two of the best talents in our country - Divya Deshmukh (left) and Mrudul Dehankar (right). What is very surprising is that both the girls hail from the same city of Nagpur! (photo by Mrunalini Kunte)

But Archana does mention her daughter’s passion for the game. “She is very passionate and has a never-say-die spirit. Even when she performs poorly, she doesn’t give up and is quick to shed the past and look ahead. Her ranking should also improve. Currently, she is within the 1900 mark. Hopefully, she will reach 2000 soon."


We too hope, Mrudul rises in the ranks and brings more laurels to the country.

As long as you enjoy chess you are bound to get better at the game!

Some analysis of Mrudul's games published on ChessBase India


Martha vs Mrudul (annotations by IM Sagar Shah)

[Event "World Cadets Championship U12G"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.10.30"]
[Round "11.2"]
[White "Samadashvili, Martha"]
[Black "Mrudul, Dehankar"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B20"]
[WhiteElo "1861"]
[BlackElo "1809"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "64"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
1. e4 c5 2. d3 Nc6 3. f4 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Be2 d6 6. O-O e6 7. c3 Nge7 8. Kh1
O-O {The thing that impressed me most about Mrudul's play is the simplicity
with which she conducts her openings. She develops her pieces, keeps control
of the centre and overall never wastes a move in the first phase of the game.}
9. Qe1 f5 $1 {This is a good idea. The pawn on f4 is fixed and the bishop on
c1 cannot easily take part in the game.} 10. Qh4 fxe4 11. dxe4 d5 12. e5 Nf5
13. Qh3 (13. Qxd8 Rxd8 $11) 13... d4 14. g4 $1 Ne3 $1 {The pawn on e3 might be
lost, but it is important not to retreat.} (14... Nfe7 15. Ng5 h6 16. Ne4 $16)
15. Bxe3 dxe3 16. Ng5 h6 17. Ne4 g5 $1 {White already has the pleasant
position, so it was important to break on the kingside and weaken the e5 pawn.}
18. Qxe3 gxf4 19. Rxf4 Rxf4 20. Qxf4 Nxe5 21. Na3 (21. Nxc5 Qb6 $15) 21... b6
22. Nc4 Ng6 23. Qe3 Bb7 24. Kg1 Bd5 25. Ng3 Qg5 26. Qxg5 hxg5 {This endgame is
pleasant for Black thanks to her bishop pair.} 27. Nh5 Nf4 $1 28. Nxf4 gxf4 {
Black's pawn structure is improved tremendously.} 29. Nd2 Rd8 30. Kf2 e5 31.
Bd3 $2 {A huge blunder that simply ends the game.} (31. Nf3 $1 e4 $6 32. Rd1 $1
$13) 31... Be6 $1 {One of the pieces on the d-file is going to fall.} 32. Bf5
Bxf5 {With this victory, Mrudul claimed the bronze medal.} 0-1

Mrudul vs Divya (annotations by IM Sagar Shah)

[Event "World Cadets Chess-ch 2016-U12"]
[Site "Batumi"]
[Date "2016.10.29"]
[Round "10"]
[White "Mrudul, Dehankar"]
[Black "Divya, Deshmukh"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E32"]
[WhiteElo "1809"]
[BlackElo "1772"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "83"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[EventCountry "GEO"]
[SourceTitle ""]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[TimeControl "40/5400+30:1800+30"]
{The two girls from the city of Nagpur practice together and are good friends.
It would be particularly uncomfortable to face each other in such a crucial
penultimate round.} 1. c4 b6 2. d4 Bb7 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Qc2 e6 5. e4 Bb4 6. Bd3
Bxc3+ 7. bxc3 d6 8. Nf3 {Mrudul has played the opening naturally and strong,
and has built up a nice centre, while Divya who seemed to try and confuse her
opponent has landed up in a passive position without much scope.} h6 9. O-O O-O
10. a4 c5 (10... a5 {Stopping the pawn from coming to a5 could have been much
better.}) 11. a5 $1 Nc6 12. a6 Bc8 13. e5 $1 {Powerful play by Mrudul. She has
taken up all the space on the board.} Ne8 $6 (13... dxe5 14. dxe5 Ne8 {was
better, but the knight on e8 lacks scope and White is clearly better.}) 14.
dxc5 bxc5 15. Rd1 Qe7 16. Be4 d5 (16... Bd7 17. Bf4 dxe5 18. Nxe5 $18) 17. cxd5
exd5 18. Bxd5 {White is just a pawn up and has a completely dominating
position. It didn't take much effort on Mrudul's part to convert this position
into a win.} Bd7 19. Qe4 Rc8 20. Rb1 Nd8 21. Be3 Nc7 22. Bb7 Nxb7 23. axb7 Rcd8
24. Bxc5 Qxc5 25. Rxd7 Na6 26. Rxd8 Rxd8 27. Qe3 Qc4 28. h3 Qa2 29. Qc1 Nb8 30.
Nd4 Qa6 31. Qb2 Qc4 32. Qb4 Qxb4 33. Rxb4 a5 34. Rc4 Kh7 35. Rc8 Rg8 36. c4 a4
37. Nb5 Na6 38. c5 Nb8 39. c6 Nxc6 40. Rxc6 Rb8 41. Nd6 a3 42. Ra6 1-0


About the Author

Durga Nagesh Guttula is a special sports correspondent at the Press Club, Mumbai. He is also a freelance sports writer. He is the CEO and director of the South Mumbai Chess Academy (SMCA). He is also the Jt.Secretary Mumbai City District Chess Association(MCDCA). He is an International FIDE rated chess player and has written many articles for ChessBase in the past.


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