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The 'Dawn of Divya Deshmukh era' starts with a thumping triumph at Tata Steel India 2023 Women Rapid

by Shahid Ahmed - 02/09/2023

IM Divya Deshmukh triumphed over all odds to win Tata Steel Chess India 2023 Women Rapid emphatically. Heading into the final day of Rapid, Divya needed only 2/3. She first drew against the 14th Women's World Champion, GM Anna Ushenina (UKR). Then she lost against the World Junior Girls 2019 champion, IM Polina Shuvalova. In the final round, she was up against the World Rapid Women's 2019 champion, GM Koneru Humpy. The India no.1 faltered in the endgame and her opponent found the critical winning continuation. It earned her the biggest triumph of her career. The 17-year-old has already won National Women for two consecutive editions and earlier this year, she won Gold in Asian Continental Women. Just like Arjun Erigaisi's triumph in 2021 edition propelled him to new heights, this victory could very well do the same for Divya. Nine rounds of Blitz will be played tomorrow, starting from 3 p.m. IST. Photos: IA Vivek Sohani/Tata Steel Chess India

Divya bests India's top two women, performs at 2618

She was the last minute replacement of IM Vaishali R. IM Divya Deshmukh started as the lowest rated player, she drew the number ten at the 'Draw of Lots'. Well, one can say she truly played like a number ten as a player donning the number ten in Football, is generally considered the best player. After getting eliminated by the eventual FIDE Women's World Cup 2023 winner, GM Aleksandra Goryachkina, Divya went to 29th Abu Dhabi Masters. She scored her fourth (technically third) to fulfill her IM title requirements. Immediately after that she flew to Kolkata. The teenager started with a victory over GM Harika Dronavalli, then drew against the four-time Women's World Champion, GM Wenjun Ju (CHN). That certainly was a huge boost of confidence for her as she went on to score four wins in-a-row. She won against GM Nino Batsiashvili (GEO), GM Irina Krush (USA), WGM Savitha Shri B and IM Vantika Agrawal. She performed at 2618 and gained a whopping 181.6 Elo rating points. Divya has already accomplished many things. This tournament triumph will open a lot of doors of her. If we go by previous history of the Indian winners, then might get an opportunity to play at the Tata Steel 2024 in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands next year.

IM Divya Deshmukh truly played like a champion

IM Divya Deshmukh delivered a stellar performance which earned her 181.6 Elo rating points in such a strong field

Round 8: Harika - Vantika: 1-0

The only rated game between GM Harika Dronavalli (2459) and IM Vantika Agrawal (2307) ended in a draw last year at the very same event. This time Harika had the white pieces. After six consecutive draws, Harika finally scored her first and only win of the event.

Position after 24...Rxb2

It wouldn't be an understatement to say Black is positionally lost, provided you find the correct move, which Harika played. Hint: It is something very easy to miss.

GM Harika Dronavalli scored her first and only win of the event against IM Vantika Agrawal

Ushenina - Humpy

Position after 28...Nfg4+

Arguably the best finish among all the games played today was between GM Anna Ushenina (UKR, 2384) and GM Koneru Humpy (2473). The India no.1 scored her third win in-a-row by doing an epic king hunt 28...Nfg4+ 29.fxg4 Nxg4+. Try to work out all variations and calculate why it works for Black.

GM Koneru Humpy reminded everyone what she can do

Round 9: Wenjun - Ushenina: 0.5-0.5

The reigning and four-time Women's World Champion, GM Wenjun Ju (CHN, 2592) was facing GM Anna Ushenina (UKR, 2384) for the first time in over four years in a rated game. Wenjun was in a must-win situation to force tie-breaks in case Divya wins. Divya won but Wenjun could only muster a draw. However, she had her chance to push for a win.

Position after 22...Nf6

White needed to play 23.Bd3 first before taking the h6-pawn. 23...Ne4 24.Bxe4 dxe4 25.Qxh6 Qh7 26.Rxg7+ Qxg7 27.Rg1 Qxg1+ 28.Kxg1 would have given White better chances to win than the direct 23.Qxh6 which eventually ended in a draw.

GM Wenjun Ju (CHN) had her chance to force tie-breaks

Humpy - Divya

Position after 39...cxb3

40.axb3 keeps things balanced. 40.Rxc8?? Rxc8 41.Rxc8 bxa2! -+ an excellent move Despite White being able to stop the pawn promotion 42.Rc1 it does not matter much due to Bxe2 dropping the bishop. 42.Re8+ Kd6 43.Nc2 Bxe2 44.Ra8 just delayed the inevitable Nf3+ 45.Kh1 Ne1! 46.Na1 a6 47.Rc8 Bd3 48.Rc1 Nc2 49.Rxc2 Bxc2 50.Nxc2 Kc5 51.Kg2 Kc4 and it's over as Black's king and passed pawns on the a-file are much stronger than the white knight. White's king is quite far away from the action. This fantastic win earned Divya the tournament crown.

17-year-old Divya Deshmukh beats Humpy to become Tata Steel Chess India Women Rapid 2023 champion | Video: ChessBase India

IM Divya Deshmukh scored a magnificent victory over GM Koneru Humpy to become the champion

IM Divya Deshmukh after winning the tournament

A bird's eye view of Round 7

Round 8 in progress
Tata Steel Chess India 2023 Women Rapid | Round 7-9 Live commentary by GM Robert Hess (USA) and IM Soumya Swaminathan | Video:

Replay Round 7-9 games

Round 7-9 results

Round 7 on 2023/09/02 at 1500 h
Bo.No.Rtg NameResultName RtgNo.PGN
GMUshenina, Anna½ - ½WGMDivya, Deshmukh
GMKoneru, Humpy1 - 0WIMSavitha, Shri B
GMJu, Wenjun1 - 0GMBatsiashvili, Nino
GMKrush, Irina½ - ½GMDronavalli, Harika
IMVantika, Agrawal½ - ½IMShuvalova, Polina
Round 8 on 2023/09/02 at 1630 h
Bo.No.Rtg NameResultName RtgNo.PGN
WGMDivya, Deshmukh0 - 1IMShuvalova, Polina
GMDronavalli, Harika1 - 0IMVantika, Agrawal
GMBatsiashvili, Nino1 - 0GMKrush, Irina
WIMSavitha, Shri B0 - 1GMJu, Wenjun
GMUshenina, Anna0 - 1GMKoneru, Humpy
Round 9 on 2023/09/02 at 1800 h
Bo.No.Rtg NameResultName RtgNo.PGN
GMKoneru, Humpy0 - 1WGMDivya, Deshmukh
GMJu, Wenjun½ - ½GMUshenina, Anna
GMKrush, Irina0 - 1WIMSavitha, Shri B
IMVantika, Agrawal1 - 0GMBatsiashvili, Nino
IMShuvalova, Polina½ - ½GMDronavalli, Harika


Final standings in Rapid

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4  TB5 
WGMDivya, DeshmukhIND221670027,2564
GMJu, WenjunCHN25926,50026,0042
IMShuvalova, PolinaFID23585,50025,7531
GMDronavalli, HarikaIND24594,50018,7510
IMVantika, AgrawalIND230740215,0031
GMKoneru, HumpyIND247340115,5032
GMUshenina, AnnaUKR238440017,7510
WIMSavitha, Shri BIND22363,50112,2522
GMKrush, IrinaUSA24053,50015,0020
GMBatsiashvili, NinoGEO23642,50011,2520


Blitz Round 1 pairings

Round 1 on 2023/09/03 at 1500 h
Bo.No.Rtg NameResultName RtgNo.
GMDronavalli, HarikaWGMDivya, Deshmukh
GMBatsiashvili, NinoIMShuvalova, Polina
WIMSavitha, Shri BIMVantika, Agrawal
GMUshenina, AnnaGMKrush, Irina
GMKoneru, HumpyGMJu, Wenjun



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