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Vaishali clinches Tata Steel Chess India 2022 Women Blitz convincingly, Harika third

Report by Shahid Ahmed / Chessbase India

India no.3 IM Vaishali R started the final day with a 7/9 score. She finished it with 13.5/18 to become the first-ever Tata Steel Chess India 2022 Women Blitz champion. She showed resiliency in her pursuit for the top prize. Despite losing to GM Anna Muzychuk for the second time in this event in Round 13, she managed to keep her composure and continue her path towards glory. After winning a double Bronze (Team and Individual) at the 44th Chess Olympiad 2022, this is certainly a huge achievement for her. Earlier in May, she scored her second GM-norm. Apart from this victory opening many more opportunities for her, she is also on her way to become a GM. Mariya Muzychuk (UKR) secured second place 12/18, followed by Harika Dronavalli 11/18 at third. Harika became the sole woman to make a podium finish in both Rapid and Blitz events. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Resilience always pays off

"Thank you very much. Firstly thanks to our parents for their support. I think without them, it's just impossible. Thanks to my sponsors, RAMCO Cements. They have been a big support. Thanks to Ramesh sir. He has also been the biggest supporter in my and my brother's career. Thanks to Anand sir, we are both a part of Westbridge Anand Chess Academy. We have been learning a lot from Sir and all the trainers. An excellent support system is there." - IM Vaishali R on winning Tata Steel Chess India 2022 Women Blitz. She also added, "It was not easy at all. I was lucky in many of my games." Vaishali also got an opportunity to play in the 85th edition of Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023 in the Challengers section.

Tata Steel Chess India 2022 Women Blitz winner - IM Vaishali R | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Tata Steel Chess India 2022 Women Rapid winner - GM Anna Ushenina (UKR) | Photo: Lennart Ootes

"First of all, I would say, very big thanks to organizers, sponsors, for organizing this event, also chess fans, chess players who came to watch and support us in our match. As Tania mentioned, India is becoming a lucky country for me, it's a great country, beautiful hospitality, I like culture, everything. Thank you very much." - GM Anna Ushenina (UKR), winner of Tata Steel Chess India 2022 Women Rapid. "Well, of course it was very nervous and Nana is a very very great player. We played a lot. I was just lucky and everything went well." - Ushenina on her tie-break games against GM Nana Dzagnidze (GEO).

The Tata Steel Chess India 2022 champions - GM Nihal Sarin (Rapid Open), GM Arjun Erigaisi (Blitz Open), GM Anna Ushenina (UKR, Rapid Women) and IM Vaishali R (Blitz Women) | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Tata Steel Chess India 2022 Women Blitz Top 3 (L to R) - 1st IM Vaishali R, 2nd GM Mariya Muzychuk and 3rd GM Harika Dronavalli | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Tata Steel Chess India 2022 Women Blitz participants donned a chess themed saree | Photo: Lennart Ootes

"Thank you everyone. I think you just reminded me again why it's fantastic to play in Kolkata. My first chess event here was in 1986 also with Tata Steel. So many years later, I'm very happy that this beautiful new tradition which started four years back, has already become such a major event. It is a world-class event. I mean, you have the absolute best players in the world playing here and this year we have doubled because we have one of the best women's tournaments in the world as well. I think best sporting city in India, amazing audience and it is becoming a very very nice tradition. So, Congrats to Gameplan and Tata Steel for putting together this big event and wonderful innovation with the women as well, equal prize fund. I think that really deserves to be commended. I'm just very very happy. Thank you all and thank you to all the other sponsors who made this event possible." - Vishy Anand, The Ambassador of Tata Steel Chess India 2022 Rapid and Blitz.

Vishy Anand delivers his speech | Photo: Amruta Mokal

"Yes very much, it's become India's marquee event. It's something to look forward to and you get five days of such excitement. Even watching it is bad for the heart (laughter). It's dramatic till the end. You can see the results could have changed anytime in the last three rounds. I think when you think of a tournament, that's what you want to see happen. Calcutta is a sporting city, it's the city where the fans will not only know your results but they may even have a few hints about the moves. You come here and they not only know the results, they know extra details about everything. They read the magazines, you know people really live sport here. It's a fantastic event and it's growing beautifully. We keep trying with this India versus the World, this versus that and so on but now you can say it's just the best players in the world and I think we can say that." - Vishy Anand on how Tata Steel Chess India is growing over the years.


"I think we have the raw material, the potential. World Championship is a long road. Watching their chess is just amazing for me. I learn a lot as well. I think they have got what it takes, so we have to make it happen." - Anand on the continuous talk about India having a potential world champion and whether they are on right track for it. "You are right, this is the year of women in chess. It's a remarkable milestone that we now have, a Woman's tournament parallel to the Open event. They had the same prize money. By the way, they are looking amazing in saree especially our guests as well. I think it's a fantastic step. We should have many more like this." - Anand being the FIDE Deputy President and Women tournament having an equal prize fund during FIDE's Year of Women in Chess.

Round 10: Vaishali draws, Mariya wins

IM Vaishali R (2361) drew her tenth round game against GM Harika Dronavalli (2407). GM Mariya Muzychuk (UKR, 2427) defeated IM Bhakti Kulkarni (2209) which means Mariya moved to 9/10, increasing her lead by 1.5 points over Vaishali 7.5/10.

Round 11: Vaishali reduces the gap

As the number of rounds left were dwindling, Vaishali knew that she has to reduce the gap with her and then tournament leader, Mariya. The Muzychuk sisters had drawn their game. It was a now or never time for her. The game liquidated into a balanced Rook and Bishop vs Rook and Knight endgame against GM Nana Dzagnidze (GEO, 2416).

Vaishali - Nana

Position after 69...Rb4

69...Nf4 would have been the only way to make an attempt to stop the passed c5-pawn. 69...Rb4 enabled the c-pawn to rush towards the c8-promotion square without any resistance 70.Rb7+ Kd8 71.c6 Nf4 72.Rd7+ Ke8 73.c7 Rxb5 74.c8Q#. Vaishali defeated Nana for the second time in Blitz and moved to 8.5/11, Mariya 9.5/11.

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