R Vaishali, the older sister of GM R Praggnandhaa, has been among the old-timers of India’s female chess playing brigade. The Bridge caught up with her and spoke the ongoing Women’s World Championship, her motto in life and her future plans for her chess career
Firstly, congratulations on your first IM Norm at the Isle of Man Chess Open,2018. How do you feel? Can you share your thoughts on playing this tournament along with greats like Anand, Giri, Nakamura, etc.?
Hello, Thank you so much! I am very happy. It was very nice to play in the same tournament as Anand, Giri, So Wesley, Nakamura, etc. You can always see strong players moving here and there.
- You also became a Woman Grandmaster this year at the Riga Technical Open. Can you tell us a bit more about your preparation and what were your thoughts after achieving the title? Also, take us through your daily chess routine. You are the sister of GM Praggnananda. How do you both benefit from each other’s presence?
I went directly from the Asian Nations Cup to Riga. Before the Asian Nations Cup, I played a tournament in Serbia, which didn’t go well. So, after that tournament, I had a training camp with GM Ramesh sir, which helped me to do well in both the Asian Nations Cup and in Riga. I was very close to make a WGM norm on many occasions but missed narrowly, so I was kind of satisfied after this event.
Normally, I work for nearly 5 to 6 hours a day. We both discuss about important games, positions, etc. Hence, we benefit a lot from each other.
- Carlsen/Caruana– Caruana
- Women’s Champion,2018– Anna Muzychuk
- Classical/Rapid/Blitz– Blitz
- Tournament of your life– yet to come
- Favourite chess game- Kasparov – Topalov 1999
- Favourite player– Anand sir
- Favourite book– My Great Chess Predecessors by Garry Kasparov
- If not chess then what– Never thought about it!
- Role Model– Hou Yifan
Favourite Quote– “Chess is mental torture!” – Garry Kasparov
3. You were also selected to play in the Indian Women’s team at the Asian Nations Cup this year. How was your experience of competing with the best women in the nation and on the Asian continent?
I was very happy to be a part of the Indian Women’s Team at the Asian Nations Cup. Before going to the tournament, I thought that I won’t get to play many games, but I actually got to play 6 out of 7 games! It was a good experience, and I learned a lot.
- Some of your team members and Indian women chess legends namely Harika, Humpy, Padmini, and Bhakti Kulkarni are set to play the Women’s World Championship in Russia this month. What can you say about this tournament?
It is a very strong tournament. Any player can go till the end and any one can get knocked out. It all depends on form, nerves, and luck. (We took this interview prior to the start of the Women’s World Championship knockout tournament. Currently, the only Indian women left in the field is Grandmaster Harika Dronavalli.)
- Do you think about playing in the championship yourself some day? What do you feel needs to be done in order for you to qualify?
Of course! I will be happy to fight it out in the Women’s World Championship one day. I need to improve lot, and I am working hard to make it happen!
- You also got the chance to train with the Women’s National Team before the Olympiad along with coach Jacob Aagaard. Can you talk about your experience in this camp? What were some of the highlights of the sessions?
I was very lucky to get a chance to train with Jacob sir. Somehow, after the camp, I felt confident and motivated. Overall, it was a good experience.
- Coming back to the Women’s World Championship. How do you think such tournaments help your motivation? Do you spend time analysing the games going on, or prefer to just work on your own games?
I try to watch all the top tournament games (if possible even live). Yes, I do spent time analysing other games that are also good.
- What can you say about the format of the Women’s World Championship?
It is a very exciting and thrilling format for a spectator! However, I think that a new format will create a greater impact on women’s chess.
- What are your future goals in the game? Where do you play next?
I want to become a full-fledged Grandmaster. I also have one more goal: to become the top Indian woman player some day! I will be playing in an open tournament in Romania next.
- Finally, can you share some tips for the girls who aim to become stronger in the sport?
Work hard and that will pay off one day!