“To all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful, and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”
The aforementioned words spoken by the United States’ former presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, brim with the empowerment of women. True enough, gone are the days when girls were expected to be submissive, fragile and docile. They were not even permitted to go out of the village or town to attain higher education, let alone the participation in games and sports on the national as well as the international level. But it is delightful to mention that with the passage of time, change has occurred. With the awareness been spread, people are breaking the walls created by their orthodox and conservative ideas. Girls are now getting a fair chance not only in the field of education but in the other areas of expertise as well. Be it sports, championships, Olympics or Commonwealth, the fairer sex has proved that they deserve nothing less.
It is notable to mention that chess has not been an untouched field by the women. The Indian women have always performed remarkably well when it comes to representing the nation at the international level. This is evident from what all they have achieved. When Viswanathan Anand became the first Indian to become Grand Master in 1988, the dream of a woman achieving this milestone seemed distant and unbelievable. But here are the twenty exceptional talents who proved the critics wrong and became the female candidates to be the queen of the chessboards, i.e., Grand Masters.
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- Harika Dronavalli
Born on 12th January 1991, Dronavalli has won three bronze medals in the Women’s World Chess Championship. She has been awarded with Arjuna award for the year 2007-08 and Padma Shri in the year 2019 by the Government of India for her immense contribution towards the sports.
- Swati Ghate
Swati Ghate was born on 16th January, 1980. She is one of the 20 Grand Masters of India and has also won the Indian Chess Championship in the year 2006.
- Mary Ann Gomes
Gomes was born on 19th September, 1989 in Kolkata. She has been oriented towards the game right since childhood. She won the Girls Under 10 title at the 1999 Asian Youth Chess Championships. She has won the Women’s Indian Chess Championship thrice and was awarded the title of Woman Grand Master in 2008 by FIDE.
- Koneru Humpy
Born on 31st March, 1987, Koneru Humpy became the youngest woman ever to achieve the title of Grand Master at an age of just about 15 years. She beat the previous record of Judit Polgar by three months but her record was further broken down by Hou Yifan. Later, she became the second female player to exceed the 2600 Elo Rating mark.
- Eesha Karavade
Born on 21st November, 1987 in Pune, Eesha Karavade played thrice for India in the Chess Olympiads in the years 2010, 2012 and 2014. She had bagged the titles of Woman Grand Master and International Master.
- Bhakti Kulkarni
Bhakti Kulkarni was born on 19th May, 1992 in Goa. She won the Asian Junior Chess Championship in the year 2011 and won the Asian Chess Women Championship in the year 2016.
- Subbaraman Meenakshi
Born on 24th October, 1981, Subbaraman Meenakshi represented India in Asia and World Youth Chess Championships from 1991 to 2001 in different age categories. She won the silver medal in the Under 20 girls’ age group in the year 1998.
- Kiran Manisha Mohanty
Organised in New Delhi in 2006, Asian Junior Girls Championship Runner Up, Kiran Manisha Mohanty holds the title of the Woman Grand Master. She became the first Woman Chess player from Odisha to achieve Woman International Masters in the year 2006.
- Nisha Mohota
The first Woman Grand Master of West Bengal, Nisha Mohota was born in Hinganghat and bagged the FIDE title of International Master as well. She was given a cash prize by the then Prime Minister of India in December, 1996.
- Kruttika Nadig
Born on 17th February, 1988 in Maharashtra, Kruttika Nadig is additionally a journalist. She won the Indian National Women’s Championship in 2008.
- V. Nandhidhaa
Born in the year 1996, P.V. Nandhidhaa has bagged the title of Woman Grand Master and made the nation proud.
- Bodda Pratyusha
The 2012 Indian girls’ Under 17 champion, Bodda Pratyusha was born in 1997. She earned the Woman International Title in April 2015.
- Aarthie Ramaswamy
Ramaswamy won the India Under 12 Championship in the year 1993 and Under 14 and Under 16 Championships in the year 1995. She got married to Indian Chess Grand Master R.B. Ramesh.
- Vaishali Rameshbabu
Born in 2001, Rameshbabu is an Indian Chess player from Chennai. She is a Woman International Master since the year 2016.
- Padmini Rout
Padmini Rout won the National Women’s Premier consecutively for four years from 2014 to 2017. She was awarded the Eklavya award in 2009. Additionally, she is an International Master also.
- Tania Sachdev
Not only an International Master and Woman Grand Master, Tania Sachdev is a chess presenter and commentator also. She was felicitated with the prestigious Arjuna award in the year 2009.
- Srija Seshadri
Born in 1997, Srija Seshadri has played 85 games so far and holds the title of Woman Grand Master.
- Soumya Swaminathan
Swaminathan became the winner of the World Junior Girls’ Championship in the year 2009. She edged on the tiebreak scores of the two runner-ups. She also won the Commonwealth women’s champion in 2012 which was held in Chennai.
Varshini was born in the year 1998. She has bagged the title of Woman Grand Master.
- Subbaraman Vijayalakshmi
Subbaraman Vijayalakshmi is the Indian player has won the highest number of medals in the Chess Olympiads. She became the first player belonging to India to achieve the titles of International Master and Woman Grand Master. Just as importantly, she has won titles in almost every age group including senior title as well.
These exceptional, mind blowing and sharp talents have proved that women are nowhere less than men and with perseverance and determination, they can make a name for themselves in the world.