From the publishers of THE HINDU
VOL.32 :: NO.02 :: Jan. 10, 2009
Kruttika Nadig with the trophy.
The 20-year-old Kruttika Nadig, an Economics student from the Symbiosis College, Pune, sprang a surprise in the National ‘A’ women’s chess championship in New Delhi.
With a penchant for attack, Kruttika showed her class with seven wins. The wiry girl drew two of her games including the last one against WGM Eesha Karavade in 20 moves.
For her last round match, Kruttika arrived at the venue about 15 minutes late since she was caught up in a traffic jam on the way. She was unwilling to push her luck when her opponent repeated the moves in a complicated middle game.
“It wasn’t an agreed draw. It was a tight situation and I decided to take the draw. Then I waited and watched,” recalled Kruttika, who had won the National junior title in 2004 and the National sub-junior title in 2003.
In fact, Kruttika was so tense in the end that she just waited and did not want to watch Tania’s game against the Asian junior champion Mary Ann Gomes in the last round.
Kruttika had finished with eight points while Tania had seven before her final round. Tania needed a win to record a hat-trick of titles. In the event of Tania and Kruttika finishing level then Tania would have won the championship since she had beaten the Pune girl in the ninth round.
But in the end, Tania found Mary a tough nut to crack and lost out in a rook and pawn ending. She was at a disadvantage of being a pawn down.
“It was tough for me. Congratulations to Kruttika. She deserves this title. It is ok with me that I haven’t performed a hat-trick. I was not confident coming into this tournament after all the hectic travel,” said Tania, acknowledging the supremacy of Kruttika.
In fact, Kruttika and Tania played a spectacular game, till the Pune girl lost her way in trying to snatch a win from a drawn situation. She made a couple of mistakes towards the end and Tania capitalised on that to clinch a memorable win.
“I overstretched myself,” conceded Kruttika later, after walking out of the venue in a hurry, unable to overcome her disappointment.
Of her seven wins, Kruttika asserted herself with black pieces five times, to really establish herself as the dark horse.
“I am strong with white, but need to work on it better,” said Kruttika, as she thanked her coach T. Purushottaman who had helped her to prepare for the nationals.
The victory fetched Rs. one lakh for Kruttika, and she was doubly delighted to get her third and final WGM norm, which of course was on the expected lines.
Tania Sachdev missed winning a hat-trick of National titles by a point.
“I want to continue with this strong run and do well in the international events and get my third norm for the IM title,” said Kruttika, who is quite keen to improve her rankings.
At the moment, she is behind Koneru Humpy (2618), D. Harika (2462) and Tania Sachdev (2425) in the national scene.
“I may have just about retained the ranking points, as I was losing quite a bit,” observed Kruttika who has taken her tally to 2387, with a lot of good results in a span of about three months. In fact she is the most improved woman in Indian chess in recent months.
Among the WGMs, Soumya Swaminathan started very well, garnering 2.5 points from the first three rounds but faltered in the next eight rounds. In the last round, she was beaten soundly by Nisha Mohota, who took the third place.
Bhakti Kulkarni of Goa was quite thrilled to get a WIM norm, and Amrutha Mokal proved a good fighter as she also won a norm.
The world under-14 champion Padmini Rout played a few good games to make her presence felt, but she has to improve a notch or two to assert herself in the big league. Same was the case with Pon N. Krithika who lacked consistency to be a serious threat.
The runner-up of the last edition, Kiran Manisha Mohanty, an Engineering student, finished last.
Runner-up Tania picked up Rs. 60,000 and Nisha took home Rs. 40,000. Mary Ann Gomes, who had a great last round match, won Rs.10,000 for finishing sixth. The fourth placed Swati and the fifth-placed Eesha collected Rs. 25,000 and Rs. 15,000 respectively.
More than the money, it was important for the players to get into the top-six as it would help them get an entry into the national team.
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