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Bhakti goes home richer by Rs.4,00,000, Vantika finishes second and Divya third

by Satanick Mukhuty - 28/07/2019

The 46th National Women's Championship 2019 came to a successful conclusion. The field was dominated by Bhakti Kulkarni who scored an unbeaten 10.0/11 finishing a whooping 1.5 points ahead of the rest. Vantika Agrawal and Divya Deshmukh both ended with 8.5/11 and were placed second and third respectively based on tie-break scores. Overall, the tournament saw quite a few surprises, most notable among them was the performance of 15-year-old Mrudul Dehankar who fought tooth and nail with her more experienced opponents and finished fifth surpassing them with an impressive score of 8.0/11. In this final report we bring you photos from the last day, an overview of the entire event, and more. 

Bhakti Champion once again and better!

Bhakti is seeing the heyday of her chess career as apart from winning the National Championship second time in a row she has also clinched the IM title this year!

Bhakti Kulkarni won the National Women's title last year as well but this year her dominance over the rest of the field was on an altogether different level. As she herself mentioned speaking to ChessBase India that it was the quality of her games that was most satisfying. In the final round of the event she faced Pratyusha Bodda with the white pieces and boy even in this last game she came close to victory, only a slip kept her from finishing with a magical 10.5/11 score.


Bhakti Kulkarni - Pratyusha Bodda, Round 11

What did White miss when she played 33.Qb4?

It was actually a topsy-turvy game where both sides missed some nice chances. First it was Pratyusha who in the above position overlooked something very important and went 33...Qh3. The idea she failed to notice was 33...Bxf3 34.Bxf3 Qf5 forking the loose rook and bishop.

Perhaps had Black found this idea she would have been the only one to give the champion a taste of defeat! Note, Black has the advantage even after 35.Rc8 Rf7 36.Qxb6 Qxc8

After 33...Qh3 the position tilted towards White and on move 46 it was Bhakti who had the opportunity to the seize the initiative!

In the above position Bhakti played 46.Be6 - Can you do better?

The best move would have been 46.Bd5! after which White is clearly winning. For instance, with 46...Ne5 47.a6 Nd7 48.a7 Nb6 49.Bb7 the a-pawn proves to be a monster. Similarly, with 46...Re8 47.Kxg4 Rxe7 48.a6 Ra7 49.Bb7 too Black is hopelessly passive. But the move 46.Be6 that was played in the game simply gave away the initiative. After 46...Re8 47.Bxg4 Rxe7 48.a6 Re4 49.Bd7 Re5 50.Kxf3 Ra5 Black found sufficient counterplay.

Position after 50...Ra5: With the Black rook behind to keep an eye the a-pawn doesn't look as menacing as before.

Replay the full game below:

Bhakti has gained close to 40 rating points through her phenomenal run and that's a lot of rating points! She also goes back home richer by Rs.4,00,000 | Photo: IA Gopakumar Sudhakaran

Vantika finishes strongly and makes a WGM norm

WIM Vantika Agrawal started as the 10th seed but finished second, scoring a WGM norm in the process. She had her lucky moments in the tournament, but as they say, fortune favours only the brave. Certainly, she made the most out of every opportunity and deservingly earned a podium finish. In the last round she came close to winning but her resilient opponent Mrudul Dehankar kept finding resources to ultimately force a draw.

Vantika had the upper hand against Mrudul in the last round playing the black side of Sicilian Sveshnikov. She would have been sole second, had she won the game | Photo: IA Gopakumar Sudhakaran

Divya Deshmukh is just 13 but evidently one of the strongest!

Divya Deshmukh started as the 3rd seed and also finished third in the event with an impressive score of 8.5/11 - same as Vantika - but she had to settle for the third place based on tie-break. She found back-to-back victories in the last two rounds against Michelle Catherina and Nandhidhaa P V respectively.

Apart from losing to Bhakti in the sixth round, Divya Deshmukh has been rock solid in the entire event | Photo: IA Gopakumar Sudhakaran

Here is her win against Nandhidhaa P V from the final round:

One thing to notice about Divya is how she finishes her tournaments. She almost always reserves her best for the last rounds. This is a winner's approach that is ingrained in her right since the days she began playing chess. We won't be surprised if in 2020, she would be one of the strongest contenders for the title.

The trio with their trophies!

The authorities at Chettinadu Public School have done an excellent job conducting this event.

Pratyusha Bodda recovered well from her upset in round-2 against Nandhini Saripalli to finish fourth with a convincing 8.0/11 points | Photo: IA Gopakumar Sudhakaran

Mrudul Dehankar makes a WIM norm

15-year-old Mrudul Dehankar had a very successful event. Even though starting with a rank of 24 she finished overall fifth surpassing many an elite participant of the event. She beat WIM Mahalakshmi M, WIM Srija Seshadri, and IM Vijayalakshmi Subbaraman to clinch a WIM norm for herself.

15-year-old Mrudul gained 120 Elo points and is well on her way to becoming a WIM | Photo: IA Gopakumar Sudhakaran

Bala Kannamma failed to make her WIM norm as she lost her final round game against Harshita Guddanti | Photo: IA Gopakumar Sudhakaran

Srija Seshadri recovered well and finished sixth  | Photo: IA Gopakumar Sudhakaran

Experienced IM Nisha Mohota finished seventh. In this photo you see her with the winner of the tournament Bhakti Kulkarni | Photo: Nisha Mohota's Facebook

After the tournament Nisha wrote an interesting Facebook post where you can clearly see how a strong player is often looking for improvement in their games rather than just focusing on the results: "On my part, I am very satisfied and happy with my 7th place unbeaten finish! You must be thinking, what's wrong with me.. haven't I won the National in the past? Well, I am actually very happy with my last 3 rounds' games...I played attacking chess....different chess...completely against my positional style and it was very satisfying! My friends who know me very closely were very happy to see this changed Nisha last 3 rounds! Yes, I can play different chess!! Happy to finish on 3/3 last 3 rounds! Actually not the 7th position, but the confidence that I can adapt to a different style is very satisfying!"

After scoring her second IM norm at the recently concluded Paracin Open 2019, Nandhidhaa was one of the favourites to win the title. She started off well, but in the end had to be content with the 8th position | Photo: IA Gopakumar Sudhakaran

Another one of those champions of Indian chess, who has overcome all challenges to continue progressing in her chess career. Hear the inspiring story of Meenakshi Subbaraman if you haven't done so already. She finished ninth. | Photo: IA Gopakumar Sudhakaran

A strong 10th place finish for Harshita Guddanti | Photo: IA Gopakumar Sudhakaran

Prize money won by top 10 finishers

Although there were only ten prizes at the event, all of them were quite substantial:

1 Bhakti Kulkarni 4,00,000
2 Vantika Agrawal 3,00,000
3 Divya Deshmukh 2,00,000
4 Pratyusha Bodda 1,50,000
5 Mrudul Dehankar 1,25,000
6 Srija Seshadri 75,000
7 Nisha Mohota 75,000
8 P.V. Nandhidhaa 75,000
9 Meenakshi. S 50,000
10 Harshita Guddanti 50,000


Aarthie Ramaswamy lost her last round to Srija Seshadri, but she finished with a respectable 7.0/11 and gained 42 Elo points

Aarthie has inspired her husband Ramesh RB after her performance. India's Olympiad team trainer wrote on Facebook, "Very proud of Aarthie Ramaswamy performance at the recently concluded Women National Championship 2019. Despite not finding enough time for her Chess due to managing family, office work, academy related works and various other things, which keeps her occupied 24*7, she fought bravely in a competitive tournament and did pretty well. Tough lady - inspired by you!"

A competitive tournament unfortunately doesn't go well for everyone. Top-seed Soumya Swaminathan had a rather disappointing event as she finished 21st with a sombre 6.5/11. In the last round she only drew against lower rated Rutuja Bakshi of Maharashtra | Photo: IA Gopakumar Sudhakaran

IM Vijayalakshmi Subbaraman too had a forgettable event as she finished 13th with 7.0/11, she was the fourth seed of the event | Photo: IA Gopakumar Sudhakaran

Results of final round

Bo.No.NameRtgClub/CityPts. ResultPts. NameRtgClub/CityNo.
12WGMKulkarni Bhakti 2388AI ½ - ½ WIMPratyusha Bodda 2265AP8
224WCMMrudul Dehankar 2074MAH ½ - ½8 WIMVantika Agrawal 2243DEL10
39WIMNandhidhaa P V 2259TN 0 - 1 WIMDivya Deshmukh 2373MAH3
428WGMRamaswamy Aarthie 2020AI7 0 - 17 WIMSrija Seshadri 2306TN5
513IMMohota Nisha 2221PSPB7 1 - 07 Priyanka K 2217TN14
623WIMHarshita Guddanti 2078AP 1 - 07 Bala Kannamma P 2051TN27
76WGMGomes Mary Ann 2303PSPB ½ - ½ WIMVarshini V 2087TN22
818WGMMeenakshi Subbaraman 2163AI 1 - 0 WIMMichelle Catherina P 2226TN12
917WIMChitlange Sakshi 2168MAH 1 - 0 WCMJyothsna L 1939TN35
1033Bakshi Rutuja 1958MAH6 ½ - ½6 WGMSoumya Swaminathan 2402PSPB1
1137Toshali V 1920AP6 0 - 16 IMVijayalakshmi Subbaraman 2357AI4
1234WFMSanskriti Goyal 1948UP6 0 - 16 WGMSwati Ghate 2192LIC15
1316WCMSharma Isha 2188KAR6 1 - 06 Pandey Srishti 1882MAH40
1420WFMJain Nityata 2135MP6 1 - 06 Nandhini Saripalli 1933GOA36
1539WFMDhyana Patel 1900GUJ6 ½ - ½6 WIMThipsay Bagyashree Sathe 2093MAH21
1626WGMKiran Manisha Mohanty 2054LIC6 ½ - ½6 Singh Neha 1809BIH44
1750Divyabharathi Masanam 1730TN 1 - 0 WIMParnali S Dharia 2145MAH19
1829Meenal Gupta 2004J&K 0 - 1 Sunyuktha C M N 1815TN43
1932Saranya Y 1959TN 1 - 0 Abhirami Madabushi 1689TEL52
2038WFMMeghna C H 1903RSPB 1 - 0 Rindhiya V 1573TN66

Standings after final round

Rk.SNoNameFEDRtgClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4  TB5 w-we
12WGMKulkarni BhaktiIND2388AI10,00,072,078,069,7591,91
210WIMVantika AgrawalIND2243DEL8,50,074,580,560,5072,15
33WIMDivya DeshmukhIND2373MAH8,50,072,077,056,007-0,17
48WIMPratyusha BoddaIND2265AP8,00,070,575,552,757-0,10
524WCMMrudul DehankarIND2074MAH8,00,068,073,051,2563,00
65WIMSrija SeshadriIND2306TN8,00,067,072,050,507-1,09
713IMMohota NishaIND2221PSPB8,00,063,568,549,255-0,29
89WIMNandhidhaa P VIND2259TN7,50,074,579,549,2570,19
918WGMMeenakshi SubbaramanIND2163AI7,50,074,079,050,2561,70
1023WIMHarshita GuddantiIND2078AP7,50,067,072,046,7561,83
1117WIMChitlange SakshiIND2168MAH7,50,059,064,043,257-1,55
1214Priyanka KIND2217TN7,00,069,074,043,006-1,10
134IMVijayalakshmi SubbaramanIND2357AI7,00,068,073,043,756-2,64
1420WFMJain NityataIND2135MP7,00,067,072,041,0070,08
156WGMGomes Mary AnnIND2303PSPB7,00,066,572,545,255-1,74
1622WIMVarshini VIND2087TN7,00,066,571,542,5050,18
1727Bala Kannamma PIND2051TN7,00,066,571,540,7561,59
1828WGMRamaswamy AarthieIND2020AI7,00,066,071,042,0052,60
1915WGMSwati GhateIND2192LIC7,00,063,065,538,506-1,25
2016WCMSharma IshaIND2188KAR7,00,062,567,039,756-1,24

A big thanks to Gopakumar Sudhakaran, the chief arbiter of the tournament, who religiously sent us the pictures from all the rounds. Thanks to his efforts ChessBase India was able to cover the tournament in an intensive manner on a round to round basis.

The entire coverage of the National Women's Championships 2019 was brought to you by ChessBase India's newly added team member Satanick Mukhuty.

We had kept a contest on day one as to who would win the Women's National Championships 2019. Two people - Aradhya Garg and Sivakami Ramanathan had guessed it right that Bhakti would become the champion, but they also had to guess her score. Aradhya said 8.5 or 9 and Sivakami guessed it as 9.0/11. To be fair no one could have imagined that Bhakti would dominate the tournament in such brutal fashion scoring 10.0/11.


We hope you enjoyed our coverage of the event. If you have any feedback, do let us know in the comments section. You can read through all the previous articles of the event through the grey boxes below.

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