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R Vaishali on officially becoming GM

Chennai: A Grandmaster (GM) long before the title was officially awarded to her by FIDE recently, Indian chess player R Vaishali has revealed that there was a time when she was not sure if she could achieve this feat, but managed get through it thanks to a good support structure.

Vaishali completed the required 2500 ELO points Llobregat Open tournament in Spain and became only the third Indian woman, after Koneru Humpy and Harika Dronavalli, to become GM.

However, the title was only officially awarded to her recently after the FIDE Council meeting at the Candidates Tournament in Toronto last month.

“After I won the (GM Women’s) title, I knew that one day it would be changed to GM. I didn’t think about the title that much,” she said. PTI in an interview.

“Yes, it took a while for it to become official, but I’m glad the title is finally out. I was fine with it (the delay),” she added.

The 22-year-old is basking in the glory of her solid performance in the Candidates Tournament, where she won five consecutive matches to finish joint second.

She became a women’s grandmaster in 2018 after achieving her final standard at the Riga Technical University Open in Riga, Latvia.

After waiting six years to finally earn the GM tag, Vaishali said she became a little insecure about the GM tag after her ratings stagnated due to a lack of competition during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In between, I couldn’t play any tournament for two years due to the (Covid-19) pandemic. But I worked all the time and tried to improve my game. I completed my International Master (IM) cycle post-pandemic (in 2021 ),’ she recalled.

“Although I was slowly improving my game, my rating stagnated. There were some low moments where I felt like I might not get the title, but people believed in me and helped me get it,” she said .

Vaishali is the elder sister of R Praggnanandhaa, the 18-year-old who has been making waves for a while now. Together they became the first brother-sister duo to qualify for this year’s Candidates event.

Talking about her relationship with Praggnanandhaa, Vaishali said, “We talk about our games a lot, which is normal because we have been playing together since childhood.”

“He helps me a lot with my game. It’s great to have such a strong player with whom I can discuss more about the game at any time.”

When asked about the support she and her brother receive from their parents, Vaishali described them as their “greatest strength.”

“Our parents are the biggest strength for both of us. My mother usually accompanies us to our tournaments. She takes care of almost everything, and we just stay focused on our game,” she revealed.

“Our father takes care of things like logistics, planning and finances. In fact, they both take care of most of our needs, which indeed helps us focus more on our game. I am really grateful to them.”

Outside of chess, Vaishali is currently pursuing the PG Diploma course in Human Resource Management.

However, she has no qualms about admitting that she has no academic ambitions and is concentrating on professional chess, with this month’s Women’s Masters in Norway being her next assignment.

“I am in the final year of my Human Resource Management course after completing my B Com. But I have no academic aspirations. I just want to complete this PG and focus on chess full-time and professionally.”

“I will be playing the Women Masters in Norway at the end of this month. It is an exciting event as I would be competing in a new format, especially time control, besides a few other tournaments,” Vaishali concluded.

(Published May 01, 2024, 12:01 IST)