PANAJI: Goa Carbon Limited Brand Ambassador and India’s latest Woman Grandmaster Bhakti Kulkarni won silver medal at Bhavarlal and Kantabai Jain Foundation 39th Premier National Women Chess Championship, which concluded at Jalgao, Maharashtra on Saturday.
In her final round Bhakti drew with IM Eesha Karvade (2393) of Maharashtra to finish with the score of 7.5 points from 11 rounds.
Besides Bhakti, three other players — WGM Mary Ann Gomes, WGM Soumya Swaminathan and IM Eesha Karvade were tied with equal score of 7.5 points but due to her better tie-break Mary Ann Gomes won the gold leaving Bhakti to settle for silver. WGM Soumya Swaminathan won bronze while IM Eesha Karvade finished 4th.
Bhakti, who started the championship as 9th seed, gave sterling performance as she matched wits with all the experienced WGMs securing 5 wins, 5 draws and 1 loss.
"It was one of the toughest tournaments in my career," a tired looking Bhakti said after battling for nearly six hours with top seed Eesha Karvade.
"I am happy to get Goa its first medal of men/women championship," she added.
Bhakti also hailed gold medal winner Mary Ann Gomes for her fighting spirit. In turn the 23-year-old Mary also praised the Goan chess wizard stating, "It was lucky title for me. The real winner should be Bhakti who proved herself worthy as a WGM," Mary said.
Goa Chess Association secretary Mr Arvind Mhamal was the first one to congratulate Bhakti on her achievement. Besides, many senior chess players across India also showered congratulatory SMSes on the 20-year-old who was accompanied by her father Mr Pradip and mother Ms Priya.
Bhakti was all praise for her trainer Dronacharya Raghunandan Gokhale of whom she said, "Gokhale sir used to come online to guide me in spite of his hectic schedule and prepared me for next round."
Gokhale while hailing the feat of his favourite disciple remarked, "This is just a stepping stone for talented Bhakti. Watch how far she goes in future."
Bhakti is adding 35 Elo rating points in her ever growing kitty. She will next participate in the Commonwealth Chess Championship to be held in Chennai from November 22. Meanwhile, WIM Ivana Furtado defeated G Lasya of Andhra Pradesh to take her score tally to 5.5 points. Ivana finished 18th.