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Vaishali R becomes the third Indian woman to earn the Grandmaster title

by Shahid Ahmed - 02/12/2023

IM Vaishali R became the third Indian woman to earn the Grandmaster title on Friday 1st December 2023. She also became Inda's 84th Grandmaster by scoring a win against FM Tamer Tarik Selbes at 4th Elllobregat Open 2023. India got its first female player as a Grandmaster in the form of Koneru Humpy back in 2002. Nine years later, Harika Dronavalli became the second Indian woman to earn the GM title. Now in 2023, twelve years later, Vaishali ended the search for the third Indian woman to earn the coveted GM title. The Chennai woman had an illustrious career so far, the GM title certainly cements her among the world's best. There are only 41 female players who have a GM title as FIDE Rating list December 2023. Vaishali also became world's first brother-sister duo to become Grandmasters. Photo: Shahid Ahmed

India's 84th and World's first brother-sister Grandmaster duo

India's first Grandmaster siblings are - Visakh and Vignesh N R. This happened when Vignesh fulfilled all his GM title requirements in January this year. Thus, Vaishali and Praggnanandhaa become the second Indian siblings duo. However, they are the first brother-sister to become Grandmasters in the world. They both have qualified to their respective Candidates 2024. She is now World no.11 among Women in the live ratings. The day is not so far when Vaishali will be among the World Top 10 and win multitude of accolades and events.

Vaishali R becomes the 84th Grandmster of India | Photo: Shahid Ahmed
Vaishali becomes the 84th GM of India, Pragg and Vaishali first ever brother sister duo to be GMs | Video: ChessBase India

Vaishali's live rating is now 2501.5, making her now the World no.11 | Source:

First GM-norm: Xtracon Open 2019

Vaishali earned her first GM-norm when she was a WGM at Xtracon Open in July 2019 in Helsingør, Denmark. She defeated GM Samuel Sevian (USA), GM Johan Salomon (NOR), GM Jonny Hector (SWE) and drew against GM Sebastien Maze (FRA), scored 7.5/10, performed at 2553 and gained 58 Elo rating points. Six out of ten opponents were Grandmasters only.

Vaishali - Sevian, Round 3

Position after 27.e6

The moves 26.e5! followed by 27.e6! shows that Vaishali is not shy in taking her chances and doing what the position requires her to do. 27...Qb6+ 28.Kh2 Ne3 29.Qh4 Rde8 30.f5 Nxf1+ 31.Rxf1 she sacrificed an exchange Bxb5 32.Nxb5 Be5+ 33.Kh1 f6 34.Qxh6 and White converted her advantage into a full point eventually.

Vaishali en route her victory against GM Johan Salomon (NOR) | Photo: Xtracon official site

Vaishali scored 7.5/10, performed at 2553 and gained 58 Elo rating points

Second GM-norm: 8th Fischer Memorial - Heraklion GM tournament 2022 -

Vaishali scored her second GM-norm at 8th Fischer Memorial - Heraklion GM Round-Robin in April 2022 in Crete, Greece. She scored 7/9, performed at 2596, gained 21.4 Elo rating points and won the tournament too. She drew against GM Spyridon Kapnisis (GRE) and GM Ioannis Nikolaidis (GRE).

Mitsis - Vaishali, Round 6

Position after 20.Bf4

Vaishali made a beautiful positional exchange sacrifice against Georgios Mitsis (GRE, 2344) 20...Rxf4 21.gxf4 Qxf4. There is nothing immediate for Black. However, having a bishop pair in open position, the rook being ready to swing from b to f or g-file, Black also had two pawns for the exchange, the white king being vulnerable due to the lack of g-pawn. It made her decision that much easier that the exchange sacrifice is absolutely right. She went on to win the game comfortably.

Vaishali scored her second GM-norm and won 8th Fischer Memorial 2022 | Photo: Cretan Chess Tour

Vaishali scored 7/9, performed at 2596 and gained 21.4 Elo rating points en route her second GM-norm

Third GM-norm: Qatar Masters 2023

Almost 1.5 years after scoring her second GM-norm, Vaishali earned her final GM-norm at Qatar Masters 2023 in October 2023 in Doha, Qatar. She fulfilled her final GM-norm requirements in just eight games. The last round game was a formality. The outcome of it had no effect on her norm chances. She defeated GM Sethuraman S P and GM Shamsiddin Vokhidov (UZB), drew against GM Temur Kuybokarov (AUS), GM Karthikeyan Murali and GM Aditya Mittal. 

Sethuraman - Vaishali, Round 2

Position after 23.Rd2?

White needed to let go of the d4-pawn. 23.Rf3 exd4 24.cxd4 Bxd4 25.Nf1 d5 would have been a much better continuation for White. Instead, 23.Rd2? just invited trouble g4 24.hxg4 Qe7 25.Kg1 Qh4 26.Nh5 Nxg2! and Black went on to win the game eventually. The win took slightly longer due to Vaishali's imprecise play in time trouble. However, Sethuraman blundered again to give his opponent a decisive advantage. This time she ensured that her opponent cannot fight back.

How does she keep her calm? Sethuraman vs Vaishali - Commentary by IM Sagar Shah | Video: ChessBase India
Vaishali scores her final GM norm at Qatar Masters 2023 | Video: ChessBase India

IM Vaishali R defeated GM Sethuraman S P exactly on the same day, a year after her immortal win against the very same opponent | Photo: Aditya Sur Roy

Vaishali scored 5/9, performed at 2609 and gained 18.8 Elo rating points

Fourth GM-norm: FIDE Women's Grand Swiss 2023

Although Vaishali did not require it, but her performance of winning the tournament earned her a fourth GM-norm in Douglas, Isle of Man in November 2023. She scored an outstanding 8.5/11 to become the champion, remained undefeated, finished a half point ahead of the field, performed at 2658 to take her live rating to 2497. The woman from Chennai defeated three former Women's World Champions - GM Mariya Muzychuk (UKR), GM Antoaneta Stefanova (BUL) and GM Zhongyi Tan (CHN), drew against the eventual runner-up, GM Anna Muzychuk (UKR) and FIDE Women's World Cup 2023 winner - GM Aleksandra Goryachkina.

The Vaishali, Nagalakshmi and Praggnanandhaa interview | Video: ChessBase India

FIDE Women's Grand Swiss 2023 winner - Vaishali R 8.5/11 | Photo: FIDE/Anna Shtourman

Vaishali scored an unbeaten 8.5/11, performed at 2658, gained 30.1 Elo rating points to secure her final GM-norm

Live Rating 2500+ : 4th Elllobregat Open 2023

Vaishali R crossed 2500 in the live ratings when she defeated FM Tamer Tarik Selbes (TUR) in the second round of 4th Elllobregat Open 2023. Her live rating is now 2501.5. She will face the Armenia no.3, GM Samvel Ter-Sahakyan (ARM, 2618) in the third round.

Vaishali in action at 4th Elllobregat Open 2023 | Photo: Official site

Vaishali crossed 2500 in the live ratings after the second round win against FM Tamer Tarik Selbes (TUR)

How the chess universe reacted to Vaishali becoming India's third woman in history to become a GM

Vishy Anand, India's first GM in history

Koneru Humpy, India's first woman to earn GM title

Harika Dronavalli, India's second woman to become a GM

Anish Giri, World no.7

GM FST R B Ramesh, One of the best trainers of the world

Vaishali's trainers

Vaishali worked with one of the best trainers - GM FST R B Ramesh for the better part of her career. Currently, she is working with GM Sandipan Chanda at WACA (WestBridge Anand Chess Academy).

GM FST R B Ramesh

Vaishali is currently training with GM Sandipan Chanda

Replay Vaishali's games

Gold in Standard and Blitz at World Youth Under-14 Girls

It is not everyday a female player wins a Rapid Rating Open event

Individual Silver at 18th National Team 2020 representing Tamil Nadu B

Praggnanandhaa and Vaishali when they were little kids

Vaishali with Garry Kasparov

Vaishali with GM Yifan Hou

India won a historic Silver medal at World Women's Team 2021

Vaishali faced her brother R Praggnanandhaa at Tata Steel Chess India Rapid 2021 | Photo: Amruta Mokal

R Praggnanandhaa and Vaishali with their medals at 44th Chess Olympiad 2022

Vaishali won the Tata Steel Chess India Women Blitz 2022 | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Vaishali with her mother Nagalakshmi | Photo: Abhyudaya Ram

Nagalakshmi with her children - Vaishali and Praggnanandhaa

Vaishali's Best Achievements

• Champion - FIDE Women's Grand Swiss 2023

• Champion - Tata Steel India Blitz Women 2022

• Gold - FIDE Online Olympiad 2020

• Gold - Asian Nations Women Online Cup 2020

• Gold - World Youth Under-14 Girls 2015

• Gold - World Youth Mind Sports Fair Under-14 Girls Blitz 2015

• Gold - World Youth Under-12 Girls 2012

• Gold - World Youth Under-12 Girls Blitz 2013

• Gold - Asian Continental Women Blitz 2017

• Gold - Asian Junior Girls Rapid and Blitz 2016

• Gold - Asian Youth Under-16 Girls Rapid and Blitz 2016

• Gold - Asian Youth Under-14 Girls 2015

• Gold - Asian Youth Under-14 Girls Classical, Rapid and Blitz 2014

• Gold - Asian Youth Under-12 Girls Classical and Blitz 2012

• Gold - Asian Nations Cup Women Blitz 2018

• Silver - Women's World Team 2021

• Silver - Asian Individual Women Blitz 2016

• Silver - World Youth Under-16 Olympiad 2017

• Silver - World Youth Under-16 Olympiad 2015

• Silver - Asian Nations Cup Women Rapid 2018

• Bronze - 44th Chess Olympiad Women Team and Individual 2022

• Bronze - World Youth Under-14 Girls 2014

• Bronze - Asian Continental Women 2017

• Bronze - Asian Youth Under-16 Girls 2016

• Bronze - Asian Nations Cup Women Classical 2018

• Champion - All India Chess Grand Prix Rapid Rating Open 2019

• Champion - 2nd Bhubaneswar All India Below 2099 Rating 2014

• Champion for Turk Hava Yollari Spor Kulubu - Turkey Super League 2023

• Champion for Airports Authority of India - 19th National Team Women 2022

• Champion for University of Madras - South Zone Inter University Women 2022

• Runner-up - 6th Bodensee Open Classical and Blitz 2022

• Runner-up - 2nd Rigo Janos Memorial GM Group 2023

• Runner-up - Lidums Australian Young Masters IM-norm 2017

• Second Runner-up - M Chigorin Memorial 2017 Blitz

• Champion - 31st National Junior Under-19 Girls 2016

• Champion for PSPB - 14th National Women Team 2016

• Champion - 42nd National Women Challengers 2015

• Champion - 30th National Junior Under-19 Girls 2015

• Champion - 31st National Sub-Junior Under-15 Girls 2014

• Champion - 28th National Under-13 Girls 2014

• Champion - 26th National Under-11 and Under-13 Girls 2012

• Runner-up - 32nd National Sub-Junior Under-15 Girls 2015

• Runner-up - 4th National Schools Under-15 Girls 2015

• Runner-up - 27th National Under-13 Girls 2013

• Runner-up - 25th National Under-11 Girls 2011

• Runner-up for University of Madras - All India Inter University Women 2020

• Runner-up for VMHSS Chennai Girls - National Schools Team Under-15 Open 2012

• Second Runner-up - 26th National Under-17 Open 2015

• Second Runner-up for Velammal Education Trust - 12th National Women Team 2014

• Champion - 25th Tamil Nadu State Under-11 and Under-13 Girls 2012

• Champion - National Schools Under-11 Girls 2012

• Champion - 43rd Tamil Nadu State Women 2015

• Champion - 24th Tamil Nadu State Under-11 Girls 2011

• Champion - 23rd Tamil Nadu State Under-11 Girls 2010

• Runner-up for University of Madras - South Zone Inter University Women 2019

• Runner-up - 24th Tamil Nadu State Under-13 Girls 2011

• Second Runner-up for University of Madras - South Zone Inter University 2022

• Second Runner-up for University of Madras - All India Inter University Women 2022 and 2023

• Second Runner-up for Velammal - 22nd Tamil Nadu State Team 2015


Vaishali beats Tan Zhongyi and qualifies for Candidates 2024 | Video: ChessBase India
Vaishali is unstoppable! Beats Bibisara, reaches 2489, leads with 5.5/7 | Video: ChessBase India
Vaishali on fire! Beats Shamsiddin Vokhidov (2578) - Qatar Masters Open 2023 | Video: ChessBase India
IM Rameshbabu Vaishali vs GM Tan Zhongyi - Grand Swiss 2023 Women | Video: ChessBase India
Vaishali outwits former Women's World Champion Stefanova - FIDE Women's Grand Swiss | Video: ChessBase India
Vivacious Vaishali's violent victory | Video: ChessBase India
Vaishali powerfully moves closer to her final GM norm - Vaishali vs Aditya Mittal | Video: ChessBase India
Vaishali vs World no.2 Aleksandra Goryachkina | Video: ChessBase India
Final Game that Secured Vaishali's Championship Title at the FIDE Grand Swiss 2023 | Video: ChessBase India
Golden siblings of India Pragg & Vaishali | Online Olympiad 2020 Gold | Video: ChessBase India


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