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Advantage Priyanka; K Priyanka on becoming a Woman International Master

K Priyanka becomes the first person from Coimbatore to become a Woman International Master

A collection of neatly arranged trophies occupy a wooden shelf at K Priyanka’s home. “I have more than 200. My father bought that shelf in 2008 after the prizes started to come in,” says the 18-year-old chess player.

Priyanka recently bagged the Woman International Master (WIM) title at the IIFL Wealth Mumbai International Chess Tournament, becoming the first person from the city to win it. She played against Mithil Ajgaonkar from Maharashtra in the competition. “He is a higher rated player than I am and it was a tough match. He played well, but I did better,” smiles Priyanka who started playing chess as an eight year old after watching her father and grandfather playing. “I would observe the game for hours. My dad taught me the rules and soon I was contesting in competitions. The first was a local championship and I came fourth.” In the next six months, Priyanka was competing in State tournaments and, in 2011, represented the country at the World Chess Championship in Brazil. “I was too young to understand its significance. But now, as I think back, I understand how big an opportunity it was,” she says.

Advantage Priyanka; K Priyanka on becoming a Woman International Master

It was not always easy. In 2012, her father passed away in an accident and that caused a gap in her playing. But, after a point, she missed the game and started to participate in championships again. “Those were dark times. It took me two years before I could bring myself to play chess again. I lost in most competitions and did not know how to handle failures. I was under a lot of pressure. It took me a while to realise that doing my best was all that mattered. This helped me get back on track,” she recalls.

Priyanka won the first norm — out of the three to win the Woman International Master title — in 2016 at the World Junior Chess Championship held at Bhubaneswar. “The second was in 2018 at the Goa Grandmaster Chess tournament. It took me three years to win the final norm. I missed it many times by minute point differences,” she says.

Being a Woman International Master gives her many privileges. She does not have to pay participation fee and also gets free accommodation at many championships, something that is of great help as she is yet to find a sponsor.

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Priyanka works hard to stay in form. “I do not have a fixed schedule, but I usually practise for at least eight hours every day. I analyse games of other players and see how they plot their moves.” She trains under grandmaster Vishnu Prasanna from Chennai. “We do online sessions where he clears my doubts,” she says.

Balancing studies and chess is hard, admits Priyanka. “I am in class XII at Chinmaya Vidyalaya and it is an important year of my life. I have missed most of my classes and now I only have a month to catch up on my portions before the board exam. I plan to concentrate on my studies for the time being. I will be back in championships from April,” she says. Priyanka dreams of winning the coveted Grandmaster title. “Another dream is to be a civil servant. I know it is tough but it is also possible,” she smiles.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 11:14:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/k-priyanka-becomes-the-first-person-from-coimbatore-to-become-a-woman-international-master-in-chess/article30769661.ece

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