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K. Priyanka becomes the latest WIM of India and dedicates the title to her mother

by Sagar Shah - 23/01/2020

She lost her father when she was only 10. Her mother's health was always on the edge. The monthly income of the family was just Rs.8,000. No matter how hard the circumstances were K. Priyanka never gave up on her chess dream. The dream to become a world class chess player. She fought against all the odds and on 7th of January 2020 she became a WIM. It was befitting that she received her final WIM norm at the hands of none other than the legendary Vishy Anand. After the event ChessBase India got in touch with Priyanka and did an interview with her. In it she talks about her journey and also shares two of the most beautiful games of her chess career. The 1st WIM from Coimbatore signs off by saying, "No matter what life throws to you, keep chasing your dreams. Just Don’t Give Up! One day your life will become the most colourful one!" 

At the IIFLW International 2019-20, 18-year-old K. Priyanka was hoping to get her final WIM norm. She had achieved her first WIM norm in 2016 and had been knocking on the doors of the title for several years now. But every time she came close to scoring a norm, she would miss it by the smallest of margins. For Priyanka, it was a test of her patience. Being an excellent student in her college, she was already missing out on a quite a bit of her syllabus because of chess tournaments. But more than her education, it was her financial situation that was giving her the biggest headache. In 2012, when Priyanka was just 10 years old, she lost her father in an accident. Since then it was her mother who tried to make the ends meet. With a monthly income of just Rs.8,000 it was not easy. Managing a chess career was definitely not simple. But settling for something less has never been Priyanka's way of doing things. She decided to ambitiously pursue her chess career, even if it meant perpetually being under financial stress and burden. 

K. Priyanka - no compromises!

7th of January 2020 was a great day in Priyanka's life as she scored her final WIM norm at the Mumbai IIFLW 2019-20. She became India's latest WIM and the first from the state of Coimbatore. After her achievement, ChessBase India caught up with Priyanka and did an interview with her: 

My biggest strength in my life is my family

Sagar Shah (SS): How does it feel  to become a WIM? You are the first one from Coimbatore to achieve this feat.

K. Priyanka (KP): I am extremely happy because I have been waiting for it since a long time. I scored my first WIM norm in World Junior at Bhubaneswar 2016. Since then things didn’t work out well. I kept missing norms so many times, by just half a point or by other technicalities. So it feels really great to have finally made it! And it’s also special to be the first person to become a WIM from Coimbatore.

SS: Where did you make your three WIM norms?

KP: I made my 1st WIM norm at World Juniors Girls Chess Championship at Bhubaneswar in 2016, my 2nd WIM norm came at the Goa International Open Grandmasters Chess Tournament in June 2019 where I also scored my 1st WGM norm as well as an IM norm. And I made my final WIM norm at EKA IIFL International Grandmasters Chess Tournament at Mumbai in January 2020.

Getting the final WIM norm from Vishy Anand was special!

SS: What was the reaction of your mother when you became a WIM?

Priyanka's mother has been her biggest strength through all the ups and downs in her chess career | Photo: Sagar Shah

KP: She was super delighted! In fact she was happier than even me when I told her about the fact that I had become a WIM! The journey was never easy, especially for my mother. Being a single mother, having borne all hardships in life, she took my dreams as hers and is living for it. I am so grateful to her. I would like to dedicate this WIM title to my mother as this would have never been possible without her.


SS: Your uncle has been a big support for you, travelling with you to tournaments. Tell us a bit about his role.

Priyanka flanked by her mother and her uncle

KP: Yes. my uncle has been a big support for me in chess and in my life as well. He left his job and started travelling with me to tournaments when I needed his support. He comes to tournament, cooks for me, makes sure I am in the right mind set and a lot more. Even though I lost my father at a very young age, I feel so blessed to have such a beautiful family. Special mention to my 72-year-old grandmother Mrs. M. Ramalakshmi, with whose support we make our ends meet for our day to day life. My biggest strength in my life is my family.


SS: Who are the people you would like to thank who have helped you in achieving the title?

KP: Firstly I would like to thank my family and my coach GM Vishnu Prasanna. I would like to thank a few people who helped me financially to play in tournaments for quite some time now. They are Mr. Vignesh Venkat, Mr. Rama and Sheetal Lohia. I would like to thank Mr. Jagadeesh Balakrishnan, his wife Anita and ChessBase India Foundation for the MKG Scholarship which I received in the previous year.

Priyanka won the first MKG Scholarship for the year in 2019 for Rs.50,000 and the same scholarship has been continued in 2020 as well by Anita and Jagadeesh Balakrishnan 

SS: What is your next aim?

KP: This title is just a beginning; I have a long way to go. For now my aim is to just play good chess.


SS: Can you share with us one of your favourite games from the last event and one of the best games of the career till date?

KP: From the Mumbai IIFLW 2019-2020 event, my game against Aniruddha Deshpande is my favourite. It is very hard to pick one best game of my career, my game against IM Sameer Kathamlae is my favourite game of the year 2019.

Here's a position from one of Priyanka's best games of her career:


Sameer Kathmale vs K. Priyanka, 2019

Black to play
The game between Sameer Kathmale and K. Priyanka explained

SS: What is your advice to all the people who are facing tough situation in life and who have big aims?

KP: No matter what life throws to you, keep chasing your dreams. Just Don’t Give Up! One day your life will become the most colourful one!

Previous coverage for Priyanka on ChessBase India

K. Priyanka wins MKG scholarship of Rs.50,000

K. Priyanka wins under-17 nationals for the second time in a row

Interview after winning the Commonwealth under-18 gold
Interview of K. Priyanka after scoring her maiden IM norm
The heart wrenching story of Priyanka

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