When an IM and WGM tie the knot

8/31/2003 – They met twelve years ago, over the chessboard. She was a 10-year-old schoolgirl, he a budding chess master. But Aarti showed little respect and beat the five year older Ramesh. Now the two, both well-known players on the international circuit, have joined forces in permanent wedlock. The ceremony was conducted in typical South Indian style.

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The Invitation

First there is the inviation, which is nicely worded in the style of a chess event:

The Wedding Schedule:
Round 1: Mappillai Azhaippu at 7.00 PM on 28.08.2003
Round 2: Dinner at 7.30 PM on 28.08.2003
Round 3: Breakfast at 7.30 AM on 29.08.2003
Round 4: Muhurtham from 7.30 AM to 9.00AM on 29.08.2003
Round 5: Lunch from 11.00AM on 29.08.2003
Round 6: Rest time between Lunch and 6.00PM on 29.08.2003
Round 7: Reception from 6.30 PM onwards on 29.08.2003

The Players

The first encounter between the two is documented in press clippings from The Hindu in 1991. At the time Aarthi was 10 and Ramesh was 15. On the right is an article in original Tamil on Aarthi upsetting Koneru Humpy in 1998. In 1999 Aarthi went on to win the title of World Under 18 Women's Champion. Today she is 22 and a women's grandmaster.

R. B. Ramesh is a full-fledged IM with a GM norm or two under his belt. His current rating is 2470. Last year he won the British Chess Championship, scooping up £10,000 in prize money. This was so traumatic for the Brits that they have changed the rules that allowed Commonwealth players to participate in the past.

A short primier of South Indian names

In accordance with the South Indian tradition they are called Aarthi and Ramesh by their friends, and Ms Aarthi and Mr Ramesh in formal situations (she may now be called Mrs Ramesh).

Ramaswamy is the name of Aarthi's father, while Ramesh's father is R. Balagurunathan, a name you do not need to memorise.

The same applies to Viswanathan Anand: friends call him Anand, strangers Mr Anand, his wife Aruna is Mrs Anand. However, the international chess community was unable to get used to the system and invented a first name for him: Vishy, short for his father's name. Anand bowed to peer pressure and adopted this artificial "first name". But now everyone thinks calling him Anand, as his wife and close friends still do, is very rude.

The Kalyanam (Wedding)

A Hindu wedding ceremony in South India is known as a "Kalyanam". The bride and groom should be congratulated with the words "Kalyanam Waltigal" (the second consonant in "waltigal" cannot be pronounced by Western tongues, it resembles the dark English and Russian L).

Here are some pictures from the wedding ceremony, which in the South Indian tradition takes at least two days.

There are usually many hundreds of visitors at such weddings, and just the closest family members can fill a full-sized stage.

The bridal pair play a tandem simul against visitors and a quick game against each other.

Frederic Friedel


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