Divya wins Tata Steel Rapid with splendid performance

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
9/3/2023 – Divya Deshmukh, a late replacement and the lowest-rated player in the field, won the rapid section of the Tata Steel India tournament. The 17-year-old from Maharashtra outscored some of the strongest women players in the world to finish in sole first place with 7 out of 9 points. Ju Wenjun, who entered the last round tied for first with Divya, grabbed second place. | Photo: Vivek Sohani

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Two successes in a row

It has been a magnificent three weeks for 17-year-old Divya Deshmukh. On August 16-24, she participated in the Abu Dhabi Masters, where she scored 4/9 points against strong opposition, obtaining a 2473 TPR and collecting wins over GMs Pranav Anand and Karthikeyan Murali.

Shortly after, she received an unexpected invitation to participate in the Tata Steel India tournament, as her compatriot Vaishali Rameshbabu could not make it to Kolkata. Despite entering the event as a late replacement, Divya was the clear winner of the rapid section, as she outscored the likes of world champion Ju Wenjun and India’s number one Humpy Koneru.

Divya is the eighth highest-rated girl (under-20) in the world. Earlier this year, she had already impressed the chess world with her strong showing at the Asian Championships in Almaty, where she was the clear winner in the women’s section with a 7½/9 performance.

In Kolkata, the youngster scored 2½/3 points on day 1. An incredible 3/3 performance followed on Friday, which allowed her to enter the final three rounds with a 1½-point lead over Ju. On the last day of action, Divya drew Anna Ushenina and lost to Polina Shuvalova, while direct contender Ju kicked off the day with back-to-back wins.

With one game to go, the lowest-rated player in the field was tied for first with the event’s rating favourite. In the deciding round, a level-headed Divya managed to beat Humpy, while Ju could not make the most of her middlegame advantage against Ushenina. The world champion eventually signed a draw, which meant Divya had won the tournament outright!

Ju Wenjun

Women’s world champion Ju Wenjun | Photo: Vivek Sohani

Polina Shuvalova

Polina Shuvalova finished in sole third place | Photo: Vivek Sohani

Divya 1 - 0 Vantika

Analysis by Klaus Besenthal

Divya Deshmukh

Divya Deshmukh | Photo: Vivek Sohani

Final standings

All games


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.