Divya Deshmukh’s Dazzling Day – Chess.com

Divya Deshmukh's Dazzling Day - Chess.com

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WGM Divya Deshmukh bulldozed over the field with three impressive victories in three games on day two to take the sole lead with a score of 5.5/6 in the Tata Steel Chess India Women’s Rapid tournament. Women’s World Champion Ju Wenjun had another undefeated day, scoring two points to occupy the second position in the standings with four points, trailing Divya by a 1.5-point margin.

Overnight joint leader WGM Vantika Agrawal had a difficult day at the office, suffering three defeats and remaining on 2.5/6 points. GM Nino Batsiashvili, too, met three defeats on the day, taking her cumulative losses to four in a row.

The Women’s Rapid continues on September 2 at 5:30 a.m. ET / 11:30 CEST / 15:00 IST.

With Kolkata being a sports-friendly city and Tata Steel a prominent sports promoter in India, the organizers treated the players with pomp and pampering, which included a ride to the tournament hall every day with a police escort:

The young Divya has certainly lived up to such a celebrity-worthy treatment, making a splash in such a tough tournament so far and pulling off one of her most impressive performances ever, despite being a last-minute replacement for IM Vaishali R:

Appearing at the live commentary after the game, Divya confessed that she did not expect her excellent performance and revealed her modest intentions for the day: “My only goal for today was not to lose all three matches! Since I am the last minute new entry in the tournament, it gives me a lot more advantage, as I do not have any pressure on me to perform. I am just focussing mainly on my mindset on my prep(aration).”

My only goal for today was not to lose all three matches!

—Divya Deshmukh

Divya indeed showed considerable opening stability throughout the day. She began the day briskly, going up against the heavyweight GM Irina Krush in round four and controlling the game from beginning to end. Though surprised in the opening and falling behind on the clock, she showed admirable poise to play steady throughout:

Divya’s best effort came in round five against WIM Savitha Shri B, when she played energetically from the get-go, sacrificing a pawn in the opening, likely benefiting from her opening preparation:

Commenting on Savitha accepting the b5-pawn sacrifice offered by Divya, commentator Hess remarked, “It’s like kind of eating chum chum (a milk sweet native to the state of West Bengal) on a full stomach—it looks delicious, it’s tempting, but maybe you shouldn’t have done it!” Savitha did accept the offered pawn, only to see Divya steadily build up an attack on the white king.

Commentators Robert Hess and Sowmya Swaminathan. Photo: Vivek Sohani / Tata Steel Chess India.

This excellently played game is our Game Of The Day, annotated by GM Rafael Leitao:

The other overnight leader, Vantika, began the day well, bravely sacrificing two pawns against Ju and seemingly continuing her form from day one. But the World Champion kept her poise, defended steadily, and outplayed her young opponent in a long endgame, something she excels at. Though not a flawless game, Ju applied consistent pressure, and Vantika eventually cracked:

A remarkable feature of Ju’s play is her board presence, the strength she brings to the game with her poise. “She’s so calm—her body language doesn’t give out any sign of nervousness!” remarked commentator Soumya on Ju’s presence on the board.

World champion Ju Wenjun—poise and calmness, a remarkable presence on the board. Photo: Vivek Sohani / Tata Steel Chess India.

IM Polina Shuvalova has had a happy hunting in her past appearances in India, winning the World Under-18 Girls’ Championship and the World Junior Girls Championship, both in 2019. She had an improved performance on the day, scoring two points with a win and two draws, jumping to the third position in the standings with 3.5 points.

Her win against GM Humpy Koneru featured an instructive knight endgame, where she created a brilliant zugzwang that was not easy to spot in a rapid game. The zugzwang that enabled her king to gobble up the pawns on the kingside was colorfully described by Hess: “It’s Pac-Man time for the white king!”

Polina Shuvalova—creating a brilliant zugzwang in the endgame and enjoying her Pac-Man time. Photo: Vivek Sohani / Tata Steel Chess India.time

But her final-round encounter against Krush left the commentators and spectators bewildered:

The commentators were vocal in their reaction to the result, especially as White had more than nine minutes and Black six in the final position. “How is this a draw?! What a crazy position this was! A draw was offered in the most confusing position ever. This is anybody’s game!” exclaimed Hess.

Pairings for the seventh round: Women’s rapid

All Games: Day 2

Standings

The 2023 Tata Steel Chess India Men’s and Women’s Rapid and Blitz are two of India’s most prestigious rapid chess events. The Women’s event takes place before the Men’s. Players compete in a 10-player round-robin in three days of rapid games with a 25+10 time control, followed by two days of blitz games played at a 3+2 time control. 


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