The strong domestic structure in the state has been paying rich dividends with several children excelling in age-group tournaments. The practice of Tamil Nadu State Chess Association in conducting innumerable age-group tournaments, plus the support of parents has been a great advantage for chess players in the state. It is now believed that chess is no longer a hobby but a professional sport.
Mahalakshmi and Vaishali, both students of the Velammal Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Chennai, are examples of children who have been benefitted by the system in the state. Both won the age-group World titles in Maribor, Slovenia. Mahalakshmi won the U-14 World girls title, while Vaishali bagged the U-12 World girls crown. “It feels great to win the U-14 crown, the thought of winning the big title is slowly sinking in,” said Mahalakshmi after reaching the city on Tuesday. Systematic preparation and regular practice has helped Mahalakshmi excel at several world meets. She has been participating in world meets from a tender age and has shown tremendous improvement. Her focus and coaching from reputed trainer RB Ramesh has helped this 9th standard student excel at the highest level.
“The tournament was pretty tough. The draw was also tough, particularly in the fifth round. I managed to win that game, thanks to my coach RB Ramesh’s training and preparation. I guess my determination and never-say die attitude helped me become champion,” said Mahalakshmi.
Mahalakshmi wants to follow the path of her idol Vishy Anand. Her next tournament will be the Commonwealth Chess C’ship that starts in a couple of days.
For Vaishali chess is a way of life as she has been playing the game from the age of six. “I am happy and delighted to win the U-12 world crown. The tournament was tough and a lot of hard work and practice was behind this title triumph,” said an elated Vaishali. “The matches were tough. Hard work, preparation and practice with the help of books on the game helped me shine in the world meet.”
Vaishali credits victory to her coach Thiagarajan.