Sib­ling suc­cess






R. Vaishali and her younger brother R. Praggnanandhaa have achieved sig­nif­i­cant suc­cess at a pretty young age. While Pragg, as he is af­fec­tion­ately called by his par­ents, be­came the world’s sec­ond youngest chess grand­mas­ter at 12 years, 10 months and 13 days in June 201■, Vaishali be­came a woman GM just two months later at age 17.


Vaishali is tal­ented in both chess and draw­ing. When her par­ents en­rolled her in the Bloom Chess Academy when she was five years, she showed her skills in the game by win­ning tour­na­ment af­ter tour­na­ment, inl­cud­ing gold medals at the na­tional un­der­11, 13 and 15 cham­pi­onships. In fact, she was one of the re­cip­i­ents of the Na­tional Child Award for Ex­cep­tional Chess 2015, pre­sented to her by then pres­i­dent Pranab Mukher­jee.

Vaishali ac­quired her first woman in­ter­na­tional mas­ter norm in Bangkok in April 2015 and a sec­ond one at the KIIT Fes­ti­val in Bhubaneswar the same year. She won her third and fi­nal norm in Kolkata at the Na­tional ‘A’ Cham­pi­onship in Novem­ber 2015.



While her quest for an in­ter­na­tional masters ti­tle took less than a year, Vaishali took a bit more time to be­come a woman GM, need­ing 15 months. But the Chennai girl re­mained stead­fast. Her best mo­ment came when she won the Asian Con­ti­nen­tal Blitz Chess Cham­pi­onship in Chengdu, China, last year.

When Vaishali was se­lected for the Asian Youth Cham­pi­onships in 2011 held in the Philip­pines, she had no spon­sor. Since the third­placed girl in the na­tional un­der­10 cham­pi­onship pulled out, Vaishali, who had fin­ished fourth in the event, was asked to join the team. With govern­ment rules pre­vent­ing Vaishali from be­ing spon­sored by it as she had fin­ished fourth in the na­tion­als – the govern­ment spon­sors only the top three – it be­came tough for Vaishali’s par­ents. With no sup­port, they had to spend around Rs. 90,000 of their own money. “It was quite a dif­fi­cult time for us and that was the first time Vaishali was trav­el­ling abroad,” re­called Ramesh Babu, her fa­ther.

Praggnanandhaa, mean­while, be­came the coun­try's youngest IM at 10 years and

(Grand Mas­ter)13Ve­lam­mal MHSS, Chennai (Woman GM)17Ve­lam­mal MHSS, Chennai

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