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HomeGlobal NewsIndian chess needs sponsors, says Divya Deshmukh

Indian chess needs sponsors, says Divya Deshmukh

World junior girls’ chess champion Divya Deshmukh. Photo: X/@FIDE

World junior girls’ chess champion Divya Deshmukh. Photo: X/@FIDE

She had a tough time handling the trophy. It stood nearly as tall as her.

Divya Deshmukh still managed to hold it for the pictures and then carried it to her room at the Gift City Club. And it was a trophy she had been dreaming about since she was little.

The 18-year-old from Nagpur said she was more relieved than happy to win the World junior girls’ chess championship.

She was not just the top seed, but her Elo rating of 2456 was 156 more than the second seed, and that meant she could barely afford to have a bad game.

“If she did, she would lose her hard-earned Elo points.

She didn’t have any real bad games, however. She won nine of her 11 games and drew the other two. She even ended up getting more than seven Elo points.

“There was the pressure of the Elo points, but including this one, I had the chance to play only two World junior championships and this is a tournament I always wanted to win,” Divya told The Hindu. “The fact that it was being held in India made my decision easier. Many of my opponents, like second seed Mariam Mkrtchyan (who finished runner-up), were better than their rating.”

She is only the fourth Indian girl to this title — after Koneru Humpy (2001), Dronavalli Harik (2008) and Soumya Swaminathan (2009).

After 15 years

So it is after a gap of 15 years that India is getting another World junior champion.

Indian chess is of course a talking point, with youngsters like D. Gukesh, Arjun Eriagaisi and R. Praggnanandhaa often hitting the headlines.

“It is great being part of a golden generation of Indian chess,” she said. “So many young players are emerging and much is going right for the game in the country.”

Divya, who is the reigning Asian women’s champion, a surprise winner of the Tata Steel Chess India rapid champion last year and individual bronze medallist from the last Olympiad, doesn’t have a sponsor and her expenses — and you need a lot of money to build an international career — are met by her father.

“What Indian chess misses is sponsorship,” said Divya.

“There was pressure of the Elo points, but including this one, I had the chance to play only two World junior championships and this is a tournament I always wanted to win. It is great being part of a golden generation,” said Divya



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