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The Golden Girl of Indian Chess - Divya Deshmukh

by Shahid Ahmed - 18/09/2017

When WFM Divya Deshmukh was asked, "What are your future plans in chess?", she replied, "I have no plans!" The girl just loves playing chess and this is reflected in her performances! She doesn't need any external motivation like Elo, medals or prizes to keep her going. No wonder, she has won 14 gold medals at international level for India at just the tender age of 12 years! Recently she won the gold in world cadets under-12 in Brazil, and ChessBase India's Shahid Ahmed caught up with her for a Skype Interview! We also speak with her father. We hope that through this interview you get to know Divya better, because we are sure you going to hear a lot about her in the near future.

WFM Divya Deshmukh won Gold Medal at the World Cadets Chess Championship in Under 12 girls category. This is not the first time she won a Gold Medal in an International event. This is her 14th gold medal! And she has represented the country on 10 different occasions.

Divya Deshmmukh's first tournament L G Somalwar Memorial Inter School and Inter Collegiate Chess Tournament

Divya was leading the tournament until the penultimate round. She needed a win in the last round to become a champion. With a draw she would have to rely on American WFM Matus Nastassja’s result. Divya drew her game in the final round after she confirmed that the American lost a Rook-Pawn endgame. Despite scheduling an interview with her on the day of her arrival, she couldn’t attend it as she was quite tired a 17-hour long journey back to her home in Nagpur, Maharashtra. Finally I managed to get a short interview of her on the following day.

Here is a transcript of the interview:

Shahid Ahmed (SA): Congratulations Divya for winning the Gold Medal in World Cadets Championship in Under 12 Girls category. Tell us how are you feeling.

Divya Deshmukh (DD): Thank you. I am feeling very nice.

WFM Divya Deshmukh after winning World Under 12 Girls Chess Championship in Brazil 

SA: You drew in the 6th round in a winning position which was a Queen vs Rook endgame. How do you go about it, after drawing from a winning position?

Queen vs rook endgames are always tricky. In case you too are not aware on how to win such endgames, we recommend Chess Endgames Vol.03 by Karsten Mueller, which is available in the ChessBase India shop

DD: Nothing. I just check my mistakes. I improve them and continue the tournament.

SA: In the last round in you drew and became the champion. Did you know that you have become champion immediately after the round got over?

DD: I drew because the second girl who was half a point behind me was losing in a Rook endgame.

Divya won her first National Championship in 2012 in Under 7 Girls category. Can you guess who is standing next to her?

SA: Whom will you give the most credit for becoming champion and winning the Gold Medal?

DD: My coach, my parents and my school principal.

SA: Who is your coach?

DD: GM R.B. Ramesh

Divya being felicitated by her idol Viswanathan Anand

SA: How much support you received from school to cope with studies and the tournament?

DD: They are very supportive. They gave me leaves.

Divya with her school principal Mrs Bhutani

SA: Which school do you study in?

DD: Bhavan’s Vidyamandir.

Divya in action in World Youth Under 8 Girls Chess Championship in 2012

SA: In which grade?

DD: Sixth!

Divya with her National Under 9 Girls Championship Trophy in 2013 and another budding talent who also won the Nationals in the Open category. Can you guess who he is?

SA: How was your parents reaction after you have won the Gold Medal?

DD: They are very happy.

Won Bronze Medal in World Youth in Under 10 Girls category in Halkidiki, Greece in 2015

SA: What are your future plans?

DD: For now, I don’t think I have any plan. (Ed- when she gave this reply, it showed me that the girl just enjoys playing chess, there is no need for any goals or plans to motivate her.)

Divya 2 Gold Medals (Standard & Rapid) in Asian Under 10 Girls Category in South Korea in 2015

SA: Yesterday you met the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr Devendra Fadnavis and he is very happy with your performance. How was the interaction with him?

DD: I have already met him once before in some station. This was the second time.

Divya and her parents with Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr Devendra Fadnavis


Chief Minister Mr Devendra Fadnavis acknowledges Divya's glorious feats

SA: You have won Gold Medals in Asian Blitz and Asian Rapid. Which is your favorite achievement?

DD: Maybe the World Championship in Durban. Or Asian Championship in Mongolia.

Divya receives her Gold Medal for winning World Under 10 Girls Chess Championship in Durban, South Africa

SA: What is the most important thing to you when you play Chess?

DD: Making good moves, learning from our mistakes and moving on.

Won Bronze Medal in World Youth 2016

SA: World Cup is going on inTbilisi, Georgia. Seven Indians were playing. Whose game do you like the most? (Subsequently all Indians were eliminated).

DD: Most probably Anand and Vidit. Because he (Vidit) is in good form.

Divya won Gold Medal in Commonwealth Under 12 Girls category few months ago 

SA: Garry Kasparov returned to competitive chess tournament last month. How was it seeing him in action?

DD: It was pretty good. I saw the games.

SA: ChessBase India would like to wish you all the best in your future endeavors and we hope you do well.

DD: Thank you.

A short conversation with Mr. Jitendra Deshmukh

Shahid: Congratulations Mr & Mrs Deshmukh for your daughter winning Gold Medal in World Cadets Chess Championship in Under 12 girls category. Tell us how are you feeling about it.

Mr Deshmukh: Thank you. Yes, it feels great.


She has won many gold medals in International events before, which was your favorite one?

I think this was the best one. Because this time it was Under 12 girls category. Last year she won it in Under 10 girls category.


She won 8 games and drawn 3 games. How do you treat her wins and draws?

Firstly, it is a part of the game. So you cannot expect a player to win all the time. Secondly, when a player wins, what I feel that they don’t require our help in anyway. When they draw or lose, then we have to support them psychologically.


How many hours does she devote for chess everyday?

She goes to school regularly. On school days, she practices for 2 hours. When she does not go to school, she puts more than that.


How much support do you get from school?

101%. Because whenever she goes out, they understand that she has to go out for 10-15 days. So they approve the leave and afterwards it’s compensated.


At what age, did she start playing chess?

At around 6 years of age she started playing chess seriously.


When did you realize that she has a real talent for chess?

Right from the time that she started playing chess at the age of five and half years we realized that there was something special.


Share some sweet memories from State and National events.

Thanks to the state and national events, she got exposure to play at Asian and World Championships. She won State Championship in Aurangabad and National Championship in Pondicherry. There are so many sweet memories.


How much do you think chess has helped her in studies or vice-versa?

If you ask my opinion then, chess helps 60% in studies and studies helps 40% in chess.


When she plays tournaments for a long time, it definitely takes a toll on her. How do you deal with it?

Players and everyone else need to have some sort of recreation and breaks. So when she comes from a tournament, we don’t talk about chess or she practices chess for a few days. Then we take her out to her cousin’s place.


When she is not playing chess, what does she like to play?

Play football with her cousins, she likes cycling. She likes to go for early morning walk.


She is one of the breakout stars of Indian Chess. What is your advice to the parents who have their sons and daughters playing chess?

Mr Deshmukh: It is too early for us to advice. In one word, I would say, we are the managers. So I am her manager. I manage her everything. In planning for coaches, tournaments, career and everything. Parents have to manage everything. They (kids) don’t understand the importance of anything. So, we as seniors have to manage everything.

Divya with her mother Namrata Deshmukh at KIIT International, Bhubaneshwar 2017 

What is the next tournament you are looking forward to her participating in?

Frankly speaking, we have not yet planned. Because she has examinations. After coming back, she has to concentrate on studies. That gives her a break from chess. So she can enjoy her time in the school and then after few days we will plan.


Thank you Mr Deshmukh for speaking with ChessBase India. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors and I hope she makes the country proud.

Thank you very much, it was a pleasure.

Know Divya better

We know that Divya is going to keep performing well in the future and will be one of India's brightest chess stars in the years to come. The list is going to grow rapidly from this point onwards!

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