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20 Most Famous Indian Chess Players

Famous Indian Chess Players

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Even though chess is said to have originated from the game “Chaturanga” played in India, the country has been slow to produce world class chess players. The first Indian who earned his International Master was Manuel Aron in 1961.

But it was Viswanathan Anand, the five-time world champion, who single-handedly revolutionized the game in India. He caught the imagination of the sporting fraternity when he won the world junior title in 1987. It was the biggest achievement by an Indian chess player up until then. Anand soon established himself as one of the brightest stars in world chess, inspiring thousands of youngsters in India to take it up as a career.

Famous Indian Chess Players

Before moving on to some of the most famous Indian Chess players, let’s take a look at the terms used in the article.

FIDE Rating

A chess rating system is a system used in chess to estimate players’ strength, based on their performance versus other players. They are used by organizations such as FIDE, International Correspondence Chess Federation, the US Chess Federation (USCF), and the English Chess Federation.

Most of the systems are used to recalculate ratings after a tournament but some are used to recalculate ratings after individual games. Popular online chess sites such as chess.com, Lichess, and Internet Chess Club also implement rating systems. In almost all systems a higher number indicates a stronger player.

In general, players’ ratings go up if they perform better than expected and down if they perform worse than expected. The magnitude of the change depends on the rating of their opponents.

Rapid

Rapid Chess, is defined by general agreement as a game of chess in which a player is given 30 minutes or less on the clock (though never falling below 10 minutes as this would make it a game of bullet chess or blitz chess, instead) and typically no less than 25 minutes to play their moves.

Blitz

Blitz chess is defined by general agreement as a game of chess in which each player is given 10 minutes or less on the clock to play all of their moves. However, they must not have less than 3 minutes to do so.

“I think we Indians have some kind of a knack for the game, maybe it’s because it originated here.”

– Manuel Aaron, India’s first International Chess Master

Famous Indian Chess Players

Here is a list of famous Indian chess players both in the men’s and women’s sections.

Indian Chess Champion – Men

1. Viswanathan Anand

CodingHero - 20 Most Famous Indian Chess Players Viswanathan Anand Tata Chess1 1200x900 1
Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand
  • Title: Grandmaster
  • FIDE Ranking: 2751
  • World: #14
  • India: #1
  • FIDE Peak: 2817 – 01 Mar 2011
  • Rapid: 2675 World #33
  • Blitz: 2758 World #13

Five time winner of the World Chess Championship, Indian chess Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand dominated the world of chess for six years from 2007 to 2013. The former World Chess Champion is among the only two persons to have won the Classical, Rapid, and Blitz world championships and the only one to have won the world championship playing in Match, Tournament, and Knockout formats. 

Anand was first introduced to chess by his mother who was a big chess aficionado. She was a good player but was never associated with any club. The young boy inherited his mother’s love for chess and started playing the game as a six-year-old. His mother’s motivation and encouragement went a long way in shaping him up into the great player he eventually became. 

He turned professional early on and became the National Sub-Junior Chess Champion at the age of 14. More success followed when at the age of 15 he won the title of International Master and became the youngest Indian to do so. At the age of 18, Anand became India’s first Grandmaster. He won his first World Championship in 2000; he would win the championship four more times. He is known to be an unassuming and simple person who is liked by all, including his former rivals.

Awards & Achievements

  • FIDE World Champion 2000-2002, 15th undisputed World Champion 2007-2013. The first and only player to win world championships via each knockout tournament, round-robin tournament, and match. Former world #1.
  • World Junior Champion 1987; Indian Champion 1986, 1987 & 1988; Arab-Asian Champion 1986 and Asian Champion 1989.
  • Interzonals: 1990, 1993 (FIDE), 1993 (PCA).
  • Candidate in 1991, 1994 (FIDE), 1995 (PCA), 2014 & 2016.
  • Won the FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament Groningen 1997 which qualified him to play Karpov for the title in 1998.
  • World Championship Challenger 1995 (vs Kasparov), 1998 (vs Karpov), 2014 (vs Carlsen).
  • Third at the World Championship Tournament 2005, won the World Championship Tournament in Mexico City in 2007 to hold the crown until the 2013 match against Carlsen, defeating Kramnik in the 2008 WCC match, Topalov in the 2010 WCC match, and Gelfand in the 2012 WCC match.
  • Represented India at: 
    • the Olympiads of 1984, 1986, 1988, 1992, 2004 (winning individual silver top board) & 2006;
    • the Asian Team Championships of 1986 (team silver, individual gold board four) & 1989 (team bronze, individual gold top board).
  • Won team gold at the 2013-14 Bundesliga playing for Baden Baden.
  • Best tournament results were wins at Wijk aan Zee 1989, 1998, 2003, 2004 & 2006; Linares 1998, 2007 & 2008; Dortmund 1996, 2000 & 2004. He has won numerous other major tournaments.

2. Vidit Santosh Gujrathi

Famous Indian Chess Players
Grandmaster Vidit Santosh Gujrathi
  • Title: Grandmaster
  • FIDE Rating: 2723
  • World: #23
  • India: #2
  • FIDE Peak: 2727 – 01 Sep 2021
  • Rapid: 2617 World #98
  • Blitz: 2654 World #52

Vidit Santosh Gujrathi (born 24 October 1994) is an Indian chess player. He attained the title of Grandmaster in January 2013, becoming the 30th player from India to do so. As of August 2021, he is the second highest-rated player in India (behind Viswanathan Anand), and is the fourth Indian player to have crossed the Elo rating threshold of 2700.

Vidit Santosh Gujrathi was born in Nashik to Santosh Gujrathi and Nikita Santosh Gujrathi. He did his early schooling at Fravashi Academy and was coached in chess from an early age. In 2006, he finished second in the Asian Youth Championships in the Under-12 category, thus receiving the title of FIDE Master.

Vidit achieved the title of International Master(14) when he secured 7 points out of 13 in the Velammal 45th National A Chess Championship in Chennai in 2008. In 2008, he won the World Youth Chess Championship in the Open Under-14 section, the first Indian to do so. He scored 9 points out of a possible 11, gaining his final norm to become an International Master.

He finished 2nd in the Under-16 category of the World Youth Chess Championship in 2009, tying at 9 points with the eventual winner S.P. Sethuraman, also from India. In the World Junior Chess Championship in Chennai in 2011, held for Under-20 players, Vidit finished with 8 points out of 11, thus gaining his first GM norm.

3. Pentala Harikrishna

Famous Indian Chess Players
Grandmaster Pentala Harikrishna
  • Title: Grandmaster
  • FIDE Rating: 2705
  • World: #31
  • India: #3
  • FIDE Peak: 2770 – 01 Dec 2016
  • Rapid: 2624 World #89
  • Blitz: 2574 World #167

Pentala Harikrishna (born 10 May 1986 in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh) is an Indian chess player. He became the youngest grandmaster from India on 11 September 2001, a record now held by Gukesh D. He was Commonwealth Champion in 2001, World Junior Champion in 2004, and Asian Individual Champion in 2011.

Harikrishna won the Tata Steel Group B in 2012 and the Biel MTO Masters Tournament Open event in 2013. He represented India at seven Chess Olympiads from 2000 to 2012 and won team Bronze at the World Team Chess Championships in 2010. At the Asian Team Championships, Pentala won team gold once, team silver twice and individual bronze once.

He learned chess at the age of 4 from his grandfather Ranga Rao, who was also his first chess coach. Pentala was a highly successful junior player winning the Indian Under-08 (1993), Under-10 (1995), Under-14 (1999), Under-15 (1998) and Under-18 (1998) titles.

He won the Under 18 prize at the Commonwealth Chess Championship in 1999. His progress was such that, at the age of 14 years 5 months, he joined the Indian team for the 2000 Chess Olympiad, scoring 6.5 out of 11 rounds and earning his first Grandmaster norm. He won the World Under-10 Championship in 1996.

Immediately after that he won on tiebreak the Commonwealth Championship, held in London, then claimed first on tiebreak with Alexei Barsov and Krishnan Sasikiran at Hastings Chess Congress at the start of 2002.

Finishing half a point behind Sasikiran in the 2002 National “A” Championship. Such success saw invitations to stronger events, such as Bermuda in early 2005 where despite losing to Boris Gelfand in the eighth round, victory in the two last rounds enabled him to catch up with him to tie for first, followed by an even score at Dos Hermanas and fifth on tiebreak at HB Global Challenge.

Pentala joined up with former Viswanathan Anand coach Elizbar Ubilava, looking to improve his game. He then won the Sanjin Hotel Cup, a point clear of the field with 8.5/11.

Awards & Achievements

  • Became the champion at the Commonwealth Chess Championship of 2001, held in London
  • Won the World Junior Championship of 2004, held in India
  • He was the first board player on the team who clinched a gold medal at the 2005 Spanish Team Chess Championship
  • Earned a gold medal at the Asian Games of 2006, held in Doha
  • Bagged a silver medal in a team event at the 2006 Four Nations Chess League, held in England
  • Bagged a silver medal with chess club Cuna de Dragones at the 2006 Spanish league
  • Bagged a silver medal with chess club Baden-Baden at the 2008 European Chess Club Cup, held in Greece
  • Became the 2008 Greek League Champion and won a bronze medal with chess club Kavala in 2013
  • Clinched a bronze medal in 2008 Russian league with chess club Elara
  • Became a 2009 Champion of China Chess League with chess club Shanghai
  • Bagged a bronze medal at the Asian Games of 2010 which took place in Guangzhou
  • Won a bronze medal at the 2010 World Team Chess Championships, held in Turkey
  • Won the Asian Individual Championship of 2011, Mashhad
  • Bagged an individual gold medal in 2014 at the European Chess Club Cup which took place in Spain
  • Bagged a bronze medal with Chess Club Kavala at the 2014 Greek Team Championship and a silver medal in 2014 Greek Chess Cup
  • Became a champion of 2014 Turkish Super League with chess club Istanbul Technical University

4. S.L Narayanan

Famous Indian Chess Players
Grandmaster Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan
  • Title: Grandmaster
  • FIDE Rating: 2662
  • World: #73
  • India: #5

Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan (born 10 January 1998 in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala) is an Indian chess player. He earned the title of Grandmaster in 2015 and is the 41st Grandmaster from India. He was trained professionally by former Kerala State Champion P. Sreekumar, and subsequently by International Master Varugeese Koshy.

Narayanan won his first championship, the Kerala State Under 9 Championship, in August 2007. The same day, Kerala got its first Grandmaster, G.N. Gopal. Narayanan was the under-11 Kerala state chess champion in 2008, Under 13 State Champion in 2010, State Sub Junior Champion in 2011, State Junior Champion in 2012, and 2nd in State Senior in 2012.

Narayanan won the silver medal for the Under 12 category in the Commonwealth Chess Championship which was held in Delhi in May 2010. In that tournament, he drew with Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi and beat WIM Kiran Manisha Mohanthy at age 12. In July 2011, he received training from Grandmaster Yevgeny Vladimirov at the Chess Camp “First Move” conducted by Lakshya and Flame school in Pune, Maharashtra.

The first time Narayanan played against a Grandmaster was in January 2010, during the Parsvnath open chess tournament at Delhi, he got a walkover as his first-round opponent and third seed Ehsan Maghami Ghaem failed to turn up on time because of a delayed flight. When asked, Narayanan said, “it is only fair to give him a chance; besides being able to play a GM is a high deal”.

5. D Gukesh

Famous Indian Chess Players
Grandmaster Dommaraju Gukesh
  • Title: Grandmaster
  • FIDE Rating: 2659
  • World: #81
  • FIDE Peak: 2659
  • Rapid: 2223
  • Blitz: 2598

Dommaraju Gukesh (born 29 May 2006 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu), better known as Gukesh D, is an Indian chess player. He is the third-youngest person in history to qualify for the title of Grandmaster, which FIDE awarded him in March 2019.

His father, Rajnikanth, is an ear, nose and throat surgeon; and his mother, Padma, is a microbiologist. He learnt chess at the age of seven. Gukesh won the Under-9 section of the Asian School Chess Championships in 2015 and the World Youth Chess Championships in 2018 in the Under 12 category.

He also won five gold medals at the 2018 Asian Youth Chess Championships, in the U-12 individual rapid and blitz, U-12 team rapid and blitz, and the U-12 individual classical formats. He completed the requirements for the title of International Master in March 2018 at the 34th Cappelle-la-Grande Open.

Gukesh almost surpassed Sergey Karjakin as the youngest grandmaster ever but missed the record by 17 days. He became the second-youngest grandmaster in history on 15 January 2019, at the age of 12 years, 7 months, and 17 days. However, he is India’s youngest as of 2021. He won the Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour, and Gelfand Challenge in June 2021 scoring 14 out of 19 points.

6. Krishnan Sasikiran

Famous Indian Chess Players
Grandmaster Krishnan Sasikiran
  • Title: Grandmaster
  • FIDE Rating: 2698.2
  • World: #99
  • India: #7

Krishnan Sasikiran (born 7 January 1981 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu) won the Indian Chess Championship for the first time in 1999 and won it again in 2002, 2003 and 2013. In 1999 he also won the Asian Junior Chess Championship in Vũng Tàu, Vietnam.

Sasikiran completed the requirements for the Grandmaster title at the 2000 Commonwealth Championship. In 2001, he won the prestigious Hastings International Chess tournament. In 2003, he won the 4th Asian Individual Championship as well as the Politiken Cup in Copenhagen. Sasikiran tied with Jan Timman for first place in the 2005 Sigeman & Co Chess Tournament, which took place in Malmö and Copenhagen.

In 2006, he tied for first place at the Aeroflot Open in Moscow with Baadur Jobava, Victor Bologan and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, finishing third on a tiebreak score. Later in the same year, Sasikiran won a gold medal in the 2006 Asian Games’ team event. The Tamil Nadu government presented a cheque of Rs 20 Lakhs as an appreciation for his success. He was also bestowed with the Arjuna Award in 2002.

In the January 2007 FIDE rating list, Sasikiran was ranked number 21 in the world with an Elo rating of 2700. He became only the second chess player from India to reach an Elo rating of 2700.

In December 2008, he won the City of Pamplona international chess tournament, a category 16 event with average Elo above 2640, by one-point margin with a rating performance of 2795. In 2009, he tied for 2nd-3rd with Étienne Bacrot in Antwerp.

In May 2011, Sasikiran won the Asian Blitz Chess Championship in Mashhad on a tiebreak over Wesley So and Bu Xiangzhi, after all three players finished on 7/9 points.[8] In October of the same year, he placed clear first in the open section of the 15th Corsican Circuit. At the 2014 Chess Olympiad in Tromsø he scored 7.5/10 points on board three to help the Indian team to win the bronze medal.

7. Nihal Sarin

Famous Indian Chess Players
Grandmaster Nihal Sarin
  • Title: Grandmaster
  • FIDE Rating: 2705
  • World: #76
  • India: #8
  • FIDE Peak: 2662 – Dec 2021

Nihal Sarin (born 13 July 2004 in Thrissur, Kerala) is an Indian chess player. Sarin Abdulsalam, Nihal’s father, is a dermatologist while his mother, Shijin Ammanam Veetil Ummar, is a psychiatrist. He spent his first few years in Kottayam.

He could recognize the capitals and the flags of 190 countries by the age of three. At the same age, he also had managed to know and recite from memory the scientific names of insects and plants. By the time he was in upper kindergarten, he spoke fluent English, and by the age of six, having just enrolled in the first grade, he knew all the multiplication tables until sixteen.

A chess prodigy, he achieved the title of Grandmaster at age 14. He is also the fourth-youngest player in history to cross the Elo rating mark of 2600, accomplishing this feat at age 14. Nihal won the Gold Medal as part of the Indian team in the 2020 FIDE Chess Olympiad held online.

He won the Under-18 World Youth Championship held online in the rapid format in 2020. In 2019, aged 15, Nihal had become the youngest Indian to play in the World Cup 2019 where he managed to reach the second round.

Nihal was the world under-10 champion in 2014 in Durban, South Africa. In 2015, he tied for first place in the world under-12 championship in Porto Carras, Greece taking the silver medal on tiebreaks.  Nihal learned chess at the age of six.

In order to not make him feel bored during school vacations, his father introduced Nihal to a chess set, and his grandfather A. A. Ummar taught him the rules at Kottayam where he was a student of Excelsior English School. Nihal was formally taught chess by Mathew P. Joseph Pottoore, the school’s chess coach who instructed once a week in the beginning.

Awards & Achievements

  • Silver at the U-12 category of World Youth Chess Championship, Greece in 2015
  • Conferred with the FIDE Master title by the World Chess Federation (FIDE) in 2015
  • Played for India Green and helped the country secure a silver medal apart from securing an individual gold at the World Youth Chess Olympiad 2017.

8. Praggnanandhaa R

Famous Indian Chess Players
Grandmaster Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa
  • Title: Grandmaster
  • FIDE Rating: 2642
  • World: #127
  • India: #9
  • FIDE Peak: 2642

Rameshbabu “Pragg” Praggnanandhaa (born 10 August 2005) is an Indian chess grandmaster. He is the younger sibling of Woman Grandmaster Vaishali Rameshbabu. His father, Rameshbabu, works at Tamil Nadu State Corporation Bank as a branch manager. His mother, Nagalakshmi, is a homemaker.

A chess prodigy, he is the fifth-youngest person ever to achieve the title of Grandmaster (GM), behind Abhimanyu Mishra, Sergey Karjakin, Gukesh D, and Javokhir Sindarov. On 22 February 2022, at the age of 16, he became the youngest player ever to defeat current world champion Magnus Carlsen, when he beat Magnus in a rapid game at the Airthings Masters Rapid Chess Tournament.

Praggnanandhaa won the World Youth Chess Championship Under-8 title in 2013, earning him the title of FIDE Master at the age of 7. He won the Under-10 title in 2015. In 2016, Praggnanandhaa became the youngest international master in history, at the age of 10 years, 10 months, and 19 days.

He achieved his first grandmaster norm at the World Junior Chess Championship in November 2017, finishing fourth with 8 points. He gained his second norm at the Heraklion Fischer Memorial GM norm tournament in Greece on 17 April 2018.

On 23 June 2018 he achieved his third and final norm at the Gredine Open in Urtijëi, Italy, by defeating Luca Moroni in the eighth round to become, at the age of 12 years, 10 months and 13 days, the then second-youngest person ever to achieve the rank of grandmaster (Karjakin attained the title at 12 years and 7 months).

In July 2019, Praggnanandhaa won the Xtracon Chess Open in Denmark, scoring 8½/10 points. On 12 October 2019, he won the World Youth Championships in the Under-18 section with a score of 9/11. In December 2019, he became the second-youngest person to achieve a rating of 2600.He did this at the age of 14 years, 3 months and 24 days.

9. Parimarjan Negi

Famous Indian Chess Players
Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi
  • Title: Grandmaster
  • FIDE Rating: 2671
  • World: #134
  • FIDE Peak: 2670

Parimarjan Negi (born 9 February 1993) is an Indian chess grandmaster. He achieved the grandmaster title at the age of 13 years, 4 months, and 20 days, which made him the second-youngest grandmaster in history at the time. As of July 2021, he is the seventh player to achieve this feat.

He played on the top board for the bronze medal-winning Indian team in the 2014 Chess Olympiad in Tromsø, Norway. He was granted the Arjuna Award in 2010 by the Government of India.

Parimarjan Negi won the under 10 division at the Asian Youth Chess Championship in 2002 in Tehran. He achieved his first grandmaster norm at the 2005/06 Hastings International Chess Congress. Soon after he earned his second GM norm at the 4th Parsvnath International Open Chess Tournament in Delhi.

Negi earned his third and final GM norm on 1 July 2006 by drawing with Russian Grandmaster Ruslan Sherbakov at the Chelyabinsk Region Superfinal Championship in Satka, Russia, where he finished with six points from nine rounds. Negi thus became the youngest chess grandmaster ever in India, breaking Pentala Harikrishna’s record, and the second-youngest ever in the world.

Parimarjan Negi won the 48th National Premier Chess Championship on 22 December 2010 in New Delhi. In 2012 Negi won the 11th Asian Chess Championship held in Ho Chi Minh City. He tied for first place in the Cappelle-la-Grande Open in 2012 and 2013. In 2013, he also won the Politiken Cup for the second time. In 2017 he retired from chess.

Awards & Achievements

  • Won the Asian Youth Chess Championship of 2002, in the U-10 division, held in Tehran
  • Achieved the first Grandmaster norm of his career in 2005 at the Hastings International Chess Congress, held in Hastings, England
  • Achieved the second Grandmaster norm of his career in 2004 at the Parsvnath International Open Chess Tournament, held in Delhi
  • Finished second at the World Junior Chess Championship of 2008, held in Gaziantep
  • Winner of 2009 Politiken Cup, held in Copenhagen
  • Bagged the 2010 National Premier Chess Championship, held in New Delhi
  • Commemorated with the ‘Arjuna Award” in 2010
  • Claimed the Asian Chess Championship in 2012, held in Ho Chi Minh City
  • Emerged victorious for the second time at the Politiken Cup in 2013

10. B. Adhiban

Famous Indian Chess Players
Grandmaster Adhiban Baskaran
  • Title: Grandmaster
  • FIDE Rating: 2616
  • World: #38
  • India: #4
  • FIDE Peak: 2701 – Apr 2019

Adhiban Baskaran (born 15 August 1992) is an Indian chess Grandmaster (GM). He was the 2008 World Under-16 Champion and the 2009 Indian champion. He is currently the seventh highest-rated player in India. He is widely known as the Beast due to his hyper-aggressive style of play.

In 2007 he won the Asian under-16 championship in Tashkent. Adhiban played on the first board for the gold medal-winning Indian team at the Under-16 Chess Olympiad of 2007 and 2008.

In 2011, he won the Cultural Village tournament in Wijk aan Zee which qualified him for the 2012 Tata Steel C tournament. In this latter event, he tied for 3rd–4th with Daan Brandenburg with a score of 8.5/13. In the Chess World Cup 2013, Adhiban caused an upset in the first two rounds, beating 2710-rated Russian GM Evgeny Alekseev in the first round, and Alexandr Fier in the second one.

Adhiban won the 2013 Sants Open in Barcelona with a score of 8.5 points out of 10. This event included 23 GMs and 28 international masters (IMs).

In July 2014, he won the Masters open tournament of the Biel Chess Festival. In the following month, he contributed to India’s bronze medal at the 41st Chess Olympiad in Tromsø scoring 7/11 on board four. Adhiban competed in the Chess World Cup 2015, where he was knocked out by Vladimir Fedoseev in the first round after the rapid tiebreaks.

In January 2016, Adhiban won the 2016 Tata Steel Challengers Tournament in a 3-way tie. The co-leaders were GM Alexei Dreev and GM Eltaj Safarli, all of whom earned 9 points out of 13 (+6-1=6). Because Adhiban defeated them both, he had the better tiebreaks and was therefore awarded the spot in the next Tata Steel Masters tournament.

Indian Chess Champion – Women

1. Humpy Koneru

Famous Indian Chess Players
Grandmaster Koneru Humpy
  • Title: Grandmaster
  • FIDE Rating: 2586
  • World: #198
  • India: #3 
  • FIDE Peak: 2623 – Jul 2009
  • Rapid: World #2472 
  • Blitz: World #2586

Koneru Humpy (born 31 March 1987) is an Indian chess player best known for winning the FIDE Women’s rapid chess championship in 2019.

In 2002, she became the youngest woman ever to achieve the title of Grandmaster (GM) at the age of 15 years, 1 month, 27 days, beating Judit Polgár’s previous record by three months (this record was subsequently broken by Hou Yifan in 2008). In October 2007, Koneru became the second female player, after Polgár, to exceed the 2600 Elo rating mark, being rated 2606.

Koneru won three gold medals at the World Youth Chess Championship: in 1997 (under-10 girls’ division), 1998 (under-12 girls) and 2000 (under-14 girls). In 1999, at the Asian Youth Chess Championship, held in Ahmedabad, she won the under-12 section, competing with the boys.

In 2001 Koneru won the World Junior Girls Championship. In the following year’s edition, she tied for first place with Zhao Xue, but placed second on tiebreak. She became the eighth ever female Grandmaster in 2002. Koneru competed with the boys in the 2004 World Junior Championship, which was won by Pentala Harikrishna and tied for fifth place, finishing tenth on countback with a score of 8.5/13 points.

Koneru won the British Women’s Championship in 2000 and in 2002. In 2003, she won the 10th Asian Women’s Individual Championship and the Indian Women’s Championship. In 2005, she won the North Urals Cup, a round-robin tournament held in Krasnoturyinsk, Russia featuring ten of the strongest female players in the world at the time.

She participated in the Women’s World Chess Championship for the first time in 2004 and since then, she has competed in every edition of the event held in the knockout format. Koneru reached the semifinals in 2004, 2008 and 2010.

Awards & Achievements

  • Bagged Asia’s youngest Woman International Master title in 1999
  • Became India’s youngest Woman Grandmaster in 2001
  • In 2000 & 2002, she won the British Women’s Championship.
  • Shewas awarded with Arjuna Award in 2003.
  • In 2003, Koneru won the Indian Women’s Championship& the 10th Asian Women’s Individual Championship. 
  • She won the North Urals Cup 2005, the third international super-tournament for female chess players, held in Krasnoturinsk.
  • Clinched two gold medals in women’s individual and mixed team categories at the 2006 Asian Games.
  • Honoured with the Padma Shri award in 2007.
  • Tied for 1st–4th with Alexander Areshchenko, Magesh Panchanathan and Evgenij Miroshnichenko in the 2009 Mumbai Mayor Cup.
  • Finished as a runner-up in the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix series in 2011–12, 2013–14 and 2015–16 editions.
  • Clinched the individual bronze medal at the 2015 Women’s World Team Chess Championship, held in Chengdu, China.
  • Won Skolkovo Women’s Grand Prix 2019–20 edition.
  • Bagged Monaco Women’s Grand Prix 2019–20 title.
  • Won the 2019 Women’s World Rapid Chess Championship.
  • Winner of the 2020 Cairns Cup.
  • In 2021, Koneru won the BBC Indian Sportsman of the Year for 2020.
  • She ranks 2nd in World Chess rankings & 2586 in the FIDE ranking.

2. Dronavalli Harika

CodingHero - 20 Most Famous Indian Chess Players Dronavalli Harika 01
Grandmaster Harika Dronavalli
  • Title: Grandmaster
  • FIDE Rating: 2517
  • World: #579
  • India: #9
  • FIDE Peak: 2543 – Nov 2016
  • Rapid: World #2475 
  • Blitz: World #2382

Harika Dronavalli (born 12 January 1991 in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh) is an Indian chess player who holds the FIDE title of Grandmaster (GM). Her father, Ramesh, works as a deputy executive engineer at a Panchayat Raj subdivision in Mangalagiri. She took a keen interest in chess at a very young age.

She won a medal in the under-9 national championship. She followed it up with a silver medal in the world youth chess championship for under-10 girls. That’s when she approached her coach NVS Ramaraju, who refined her game. She became the second Indian woman to become a grandmaster, after Humpy Koneru.

She has won three bronze medals in the Women’s World Chess Championship, in 2012, 2015 and 2017. Dronavalli was honored with the Arjuna Award for the year 2007–08 by the government of India.

In 2016, she won the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix event at Chengdu, China and rose up from world no. 11 to world no. 5 in FIDE women’s ranking. Vladimir Kramnik, Judit Polgar and Viswanathan Anand are her chess inspirations. In 2019, she was awarded the Padma Shri for her contributions to the field of sports.

Awards & Achievements

  • Won silver in World Youth Chess ChampionshipU-10 Girls, Spain.
  • She bagged two silvers, one in World Youth Chess Championship U-12 Girls, Spain & the other in Asian Under-12 Girls Chess Championship, Bikaner in 2001.
  • Won gold in Asian Under-18 Girls Chess Championship, Bikaner in 2002.
  • In the 2003 Commonwealth Women Chess Championship, Mumbai won Silver Medal.
  • She won the 2004 girls Under-14 World Youth Chess Championship, held in Greece.
  • She won the 2006 girls Under-18 World Youth Chess Championship, held in Georgia.
  • Harika won the Woman International Master (WIM) title as the Youngest Woman International Master in Asian Continent.
  • Bagged gold in Asian Zonal Women Chess Championship, Bangladesh, in 2007.
  • She won the World Junior Chess Championship, held in Turkey in 2008
  • Awarded with the “Arjuna Award” by the Government of India in 2008
  • Harika bagged a bronze medal at the Asian Games of 2010, held in Guangzhou.
  • She won a silver medal in the 2015 World Women’s Team Chess Championship, held in China.
  • Harika won a bronze medal at the 2015 World Women’s Chess Championship, held in Russia.
  • Harika Dronavalli bagged gold at the 2015 World Women’s Online Blitz Championship held in Rome.
  • Harika gained the 5th position in the 2016 FIDE Women Grand Prix held in Khanty Mansiysk and a gold medal at the same event held in Chengdu in 2016.
  • As a team participant of India at the 2016 Asian Women Team Chess Championship held in UAE, she has won an Individual Gold medal in Rapid format & Individual Silver Medal on Top Board in Classical format while the team won the bronze Medal in Rapid format.
  • Harika Dronavalli won a bronze medal at the 2017 Women’s World Chess Championship in Iran.
  • Awarded with Chess Player of the Year in 2016 & 2017 by The Times of India (TOISA Annual Awards).
  • She got featured by Verve magazine in 2017 amongst the year’s top 40 famous women sportspersons.
  • Bestowed with the Padma Shri on the Republic Day in 2019.
  •  Harika won a Silver Medal at the 2021 FIDE Women’s World Team Championship.
  • She won a Bronze Medal at FIDE Online Chess Olympiad 2021.

3. R Vaishali

CodingHero - 20 Most Famous Indian Chess Players R Vaishali 01
Rameshbabu Vaishali
  • Title: Grandmaster
  • FIDE Rating: 2409
  • World: #1697
  • India: #5
  • FIDE Peak: 2411 – Sep 2019)
  • Rapid: World #2273
  • Blitz: World #2343

Rameshbabu Vaishali (born in 2001) is an Indian chess player from Chennai. She is the daughter of Rameshbabu (a branch manager at Tamil Nadu State Corporation Bank) and Nagalakshmi. She is the elder sibling of Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, the second youngest IM in history and the fifth-youngest GM in history.

Vaishali won the Girls’ World Youth Chess Championship for Under-12s in 2012 and Under-14s in 2015. In 2016, she received the Woman International Master (WIM) title. As of October 2016, she is ranked second in India and the world no. 12 girl U16-player. At that time she had an Elo rating of 2300.

She became a Woman Grandmaster (WGM) by completing her final norm in the Riga Technical University Open chess tournament in Riga, Latvia on 12 August 2018. She received her International Master (IM) title in 2021. In 2022, Vaishali won the 8th Fischer Memorial, scoring 7.0/9 and winning her second Grandmaster norm.

4. Tania Sachdev

CodingHero - 20 Most Famous Indian Chess Players Tania Sachdev 01
International Master Tania Sachdev
  • Title: International Master
  • FIDE Rating: 2392
  • World: #3144
  • FIDE Peak: 2443 – Sep 2013
  • Rapid: World #2318
  • Blitz: World #2280

Tania Sachdev (born 20 August 1986 in Delhi) is an Indian chess player, who holds the FIDE titles of International Master (IM) and Woman Grandmaster (WGM). She is a two-time Indian women’s chess champion in 2006 and 2007, one-time Asian women’s chess champion in 2007 and three-time and current Commonwealth Women’s Chess Champion in 2016, 2018 and 2019. She is also a chess presenter and commentator.

Sachdev was introduced to the game by her mother, Anju, at the age of 6. Her parents provided her with professional training. She achieved her first international title when she was eight. She was coached by K.C. Joshi during her early years. As a child, Tania Sachdev won multiple events.

Her career successes are under-12 Indian champion, Asian Under-14 girls’ champion in 2000 and bronze medalist at the 1998 World Youth Chess Championships in the Girls Under-12 division. In 2002, she won the Asian Junior Girls Championship in Marawila.

In 2005, Sachdev became the eighth Indian player to be awarded the Woman Grandmaster title. She won India’s National Women’s Premier Chess Championship in 2006 and 2007. In 2007, she also won the Women’s Asian Chess Championship with 6½ points out of nine rounds in Tehran.

She was conferred with the Arjuna Award in 2009. In 2016, Sachdev won the best women’s prize at the Reykjavik Open and won the Commonwealth women’s champion title in Kalutara.

Awards & Achievements

  • Won the 1998 Asian Junior Girls Championship, held in Marawila
  • Honored with the title of ‘Grandmaster’ in 2005
  • Won the National Women’s Premier Chess Championships, in 2006 and 2007, held in India
  • She won the 2007 Women’s Asian Chess Championship, held in Tehran
  • Clinched four silver medals in the team event at the Women’s Asian Team Championship for the years- 2008, 2009, 2012, and 2014
  • Conferred with the “Arjuna Award” in 2009
  • Bagged a bronze medal in the individual category at the 2012 Women’s Chess Olympiad, held in Istanbul
  • Member of the commentary team of the 2013 World Championship Match, held in Chennai
  • Entitled with the Best Women Chess Player award at the 2016 Reykjavik Open
  • Bagged the title of 2016 & 2018 Commonwealth Women’s Championship

5. Soumya Swaminathan

CodingHero - 20 Most Famous Indian Chess Players Soumya Swaminathan 01
Grandmaster Soumya Swaminathan
  • Title: Grandmaster
  • FIDE Rating: 2351
  • World: #2740
  • FIDE Peak: 2428 – Dec 2018
  • Rapid: World #2249
  • Blitz: World #2115

Soumya Swaminathan (born 1989) is a chess player holding the title of International Master (IM) and Woman Grandmaster (WGM) from India. She won the World Junior Girls’ Championship 2009 held in Puerto Madryn, Argentina edging out on tiebreak scores Deysi Cori and Betul Cemre Yildiz.

Soumya Swaminathan was the Indian junior girls’ champion in 2005, 2006 and 2008. She won the 2010 Indian women’s championship with a score of 8½/11. She became the Commonwealth women’s champion in 2012 in Chennai.[4] In 2016, she tied for first place in the women’s section of the Moscow Open with Anastasia Bodnaruk and Alexandra Obolentseva, finishing second in the tiebreak.

Soumya won the Bronze Medal in the Women’s Asian Individual Championship 2016. She was part of the Indian team in the Women’s World team Championship 2011, 2013 and 2015. She won the Individual Bronze Medal on Board 5 in the 2013 edition, which was held in Kazakhstan.

She has participated in 2 Chess Olympiads, in the years 2012 and 2016. The Indian women’s team finished 4th in the 2012 Olympiad, thereby winning the 1st prize in the A category, and 5th in the 2016 edition.

She has represented India twice at the Women’s World Championships, in 2010 and 2012. She opted herself out of the Asian Team Chess Championship, to be held in Hamadan, Iran, from 26 July – 4 August 2018, characterizing Iran’s compulsory headscarf rule as a violation of her personal rights.

She crossed 2400 for the 1st time in the October 2018 rating list, thereby completing the requirements for the International Master (Open) title. She also entered the Women’s World top 50 for the 1st time in the same list. Swaminathan married Ajinkya Kurdukar in December 2020.

Awards & Achievements

  • 2007: Woman International Master (WIM)
  • 2009: World Junior Champion
  • 2010: Sahara Best Sportsperson Award (Girls)
  • 2011: Lokmat Sakhi Gaurav Puruskar
  • 2013-14: Shiv Chatrapati Award
  • 2014: Pune Gaurav Puruskar

6. Eesha Karavade

CodingHero - 20 Most Famous Indian Chess Players Eesha Karavade 01
Grandmaster Eesha Karavade
  • Title: Grandmaster
  • FIDE Rating: 2370
  • FIDE Peak: 2425
  • Rapid: World #2344
  • Blitz: World #2258

Eesha Karavade (born 21 November 1987) is a chess player from Pune, India. She holds the titles of International Master (IM) and Woman Grandmaster (WGM). She played for India in the Chess Olympiads of 2010, 2012 and 2014.

Eesha Karavade is one of the prominent Indian chess players. She holds the title of Woman Grandmaster as well as International Grandmaster; the titles she earned in 2005 and 2010, respectively.

Awards & Achievements

  • Won the Shiv Chhatrapati Award conferred by Govt. of Maharashtra in 2004.
  • In 2011: first runner-up, with 8 points out of 11 rounds, in the 38th National Women’s Premier Chess Championship at Chennai, which was won by Mary Ann Gomes.
  • Gold Medalist Commonwealth Chess Championship 2011 in South Africa.
  • Bronze medalist Asian Individual Women Chess Championship 2011 in Iran.
  • Part of the women’s chess team that ranked 4th at the 40th Chess Olympiad 2012 at Istanbul.
  • Part of the women’s chess team that won a gold medal in the Blitz format and silver medal in the Rapid and Standard format at Asian Nations Cup 2014 at Tabriz.

7. Padmini  Rout

CodingHero - 20 Most Famous Indian Chess Players Padmini Rout 01
Grandmaster Padmini Rout
  • Title: Grandmaster
  • FIDE Rating: 2345
  • World: #2958
  • FIDE Peak: 2454 – Dec 2021
  • Rapid: World #2277
  • Blitz: World #2348

Padmini Rout (born 5 January 1994 in Barambagarh, Odisha) is an Indian chess player. She holds the titles of International Master (IM) and Woman Grandmaster (WGM). She is a four-time National Women’s Premier title holder consecutively from 2014-2017[and was the Asian women’s champion of 2018. Born in Barambagarh, Odisha, Padmini started playing chess at the age of 9 (2003) because of her father Dr. Ashok Kumar Rout’s passion for the game.

Rout was honored with the Biju Patnaik Sports Award for the year 2007 and the Ekalavya Award in 2009. In 2005 Rout won her first national title, under-11 girls at Nagpur. In 2006, she was both the Indian under-13 girls champion and the Asian under-12 girls champion.[6] Rout won the Under-14 girls’ section of both Asian and World Youth Chess Championships in 2008. The following year she finished first in the Asian Junior (Under-20) Girls Championship.

In 2010, she won the Indian junior (U19) girls championship[6] and took the bronze medal at both Asian and World Junior Girls Championships. 

In the Asian Individual Women’s Championship 2011 she tied for 2nd–6th places and won it in 2018. Rout won the Indian Women’s Championship in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. In 2015, she also became the Commonwealth women’s champion.

Awards & Achievements

  • 2005 – Won the Indian Under-13 girl’s Championships, held in Kolkata
  • 2006 & 2008 – Bagged gold medals in both Asian under-12 girls and under-14 girls respectively
  • 2007- Honored with Biju Patnaik Sports Award for the year
  • 2008 – Bagged a gold medal in World Youth under-14
  • 2009 – Honored with the Ekalavya Award by the Government of Odisha
  • 2009 – Bagged a gold medal in Asian Junior (Under-20) girls
  • 2010 – Won a bronze medal at the World Junior Chess Championships
  • 2010 – Clinched a bronze in Asian Junior (Under-20) girls
  • 2010 – Won a bronze medal at the Asian and World Junior Chess Championships
  • Won the 2014 and 2015 Indian women’s Chess Championships, held in Sangli and Kolkata, respectively
  • 2014 – Won an individual gold medal at the Women’s Chess Olympiad, held in Tromsø, Norway
  • 2014 – Clinched gold in Blitz, silver in both Rapid and Classical format in Asian Nations Cup for Team India
  • 2014 – 2017- Four-times consecutive National Women’s Premier Champion
  • 2015 – Won the Commonwealth Women’s Chess Championships, held in New Delhi, India
  • 2017 – Earned a bronze medal in Asian Continental Women’s Blitz
  • 2017 – Clinched a bronze medal in Asian Indoor Games in Rapid for Team India
  • 2018 – Bagged a gold medal in Asian Continental Women 2018
  • 2018 – Earned gold in Blitz, silver in Rapid and bronze in Classical format in Asian Nations Cup for Team India

8. Vijayalakshmi Subbaraman

CodingHero - 20 Most Famous Indian Chess Players Vijayalakshmi Subbaraman 01
Grandmaster Subbaraman Vijayalakshmi
  • Title: Grandmaster
  • FIDE Rating: 2332
  • World: #6273
  • FIDE Peak: 2485 – Oct 2005
  • Rapid: World #2262
  • Blitz: World #2252

Subbaraman Vijayalakshmi (born 25 March 1979 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu) is an Indian chess player who holds the FIDE titles of International Master (IM) and Woman Grandmaster (GM), the first female player in her country to achieve these titles. She has won more medals than any other player for India in the Chess Olympiads. She has won almost all national age-group titles, including the senior title. She learned the game from her father. Her sisters Subbaraman Meenakshi (born 1981, WGM) and S. Bhanupriya are also chess players.

Her first tournament was the Tal Chess Open in 1986. In 1988 and in 1989 she won the Indian championship in the U10 girls’ category. Also in the Under-12 category, she won twice. In the Zone tournament in Madras (1995) she finished second. She won the Asian Zone tournament in 1997 in Teheran, and also in 1999 in Mumbai. In 1996 in Kolkata she became Commonwealth women’s champion, a title she won again in 2003 in Mumbai.

Vijayalakshmi won the Indian Women’s Championship in 1995 (Madras), 1996 (Kolkata), 1999 (Kozhikode), 2000 (Mumbai), 2001 (New Delhi) and 2002 (Lakhnau). She took part in the Women’s Chess Olympiad with the Indian national team in 1998. At the 34th Chess Olympiad in 2000 in Istanbul she received a silver medal for her performance at board 1, which she repeated in Bled 2002. In 2007, she won the Leonardo di Bona Memorial in Cutro, Italy.

In 1996 she was awarded the Woman International Master (WIM) title thanks to her result at the FIDE Zonal tournament in Chennai. In 2001, she became the first Indian to achieve the title of Woman Grandmaster (WGM). She also holds the title of International Master (IM), thanks to her results at the Chess Olympiad 2000. She is the first female Indian player to become IM. In 2006 in Kalamaria she achieved a Grandmaster norm, and also in 2007 for her victory in Cutro.

In July 2005 she played in the Biel Accentus Ladies Tournament, where she came second with 6½ points, which was the same score as Almira Skripchenko who beat Vijayalakshmi in the tie-break. In Germany she took part in the LGA Open in 2006 in Nuremberg and in 2006/2007 she played for the Brackweder SC in the NRW competition. In 2016 Vijayalakshmi tied for 2nd–3rd with Russian grandmaster Boris Grachev in the 8th Chennai Open.

Awards & Achievements

  • She secured second place at the 1995 Zone tournament, in Madras
  • Commonwealth Women’s Championship, in 1996, held in Kolkata
  • The Asian Zone tournament in 1997, held in Tehran
  • The first place at the 1999 Asian Zone tournament, held in Mumbai
  • Won the Indian Women’s Championship six times in 1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002, held in Madras, Kolkata, Kozhikode, Mumbai, New Delhi and Lucknow, respectively
  • Won a silver medal at the 34th Chess Olympiad of 2000, held in Istanbul
  • Honored with the Arjuna Award, in 2001
  • Commonwealth Women’s Championship, in 2003, held in Mumbai
  • Won Leonardo di Bona Memorial in 2007, held in Italy
  • In 2016, at the 8th Chennai Open, she tied for 2nd and 3rd with Russian grandmaster Boris Grachev

9. P V Nandhidhaa

CodingHero - 20 Most Famous Indian Chess Players P V Nandhidhaa
Grandmaster Pallathur Venkatachalam Nandhidhaa
  • Title: Grandmaster
  • FIDE Rating: 2380
  • World: #3611
  • India: #7
  • FIDE Peak: 2380
  • Rapid: World #2131
  • Blitz: World #2006

Pallathur Venkatachalam Nandhidhaa (born Apr 10, 1996 in Sankagiri, Tamil Nadu) is an Indian chess player from the state of Tamilnadu, who holds the FIDE titles of Woman Grandmaster (WGM) and Woman International Master (WIM). She is an alumnus of College of Engineering, Guindy, Anna University, Chennai.

She earned her Engineering seat by topping the sports quota. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering (2014–17). On 20 Aug 2021, she got married to her childhood friend and college-mate Captain Naveenkumar S, who is presently serving in the Indian Army.

She is the 17th Woman Grandmaster of India and is currently ranked No.5 in India and World No.74 as of Mar 2022. She won a silver medal in the Under-20 World Junior Chess Championship, in 2016 held at Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India.

She won a bronze medal in the Under-14 World Youth Chess Championship held at Halkidiki, Greece in 2010. In October 2020, she was part of the Indian women’s chess team along with Vaishali Rameshbabu, Padmini Rout , Bhakti Kulkarni, Mary Ann Gomes which won the Asian Nations (Regions) Online Chess Championship 2020 organized by FIDE.

The team won the gold medal for India out of 31 Asian countries participating. As on Mar 2022, her Elo Rating is 2380 which is also her peak rating to date and is ranked 5th among Indian women chess players.

Awards & Achievements

  • Achieved career-best ranking of No 5 among active Indian women chess players
  • Participated in 4 Chess tournaments in Europe between Dec’21 to Jan’22 and gained 63 ELO points. Got career-high FIDE rating of 2380 and is now ranked No.7 among Indian women
  • WGM Nandhidhaa P V makes a historic shared first place finish at the 47th La Roda International Open held at La Roda, Spain in Dec 2021. In 46 editions of the tournament, no woman had ever shared first place or finished in the top three of the event
  • Felicitation for becoming “India’s 17th Woman Grandmaster” by Hon’ble CM of Tamilnadu M. K. Stalin on 07 Oct 2021 at Tamilnadu Secretariat, Chennai
  • Received “Best Sportsperson of the year” award from Hon’ble CM of Tamilnadu Edappadi K. Palaniswami on 09 Feb 2021 at Tamilnadu Secretariat, Chennai
  • Won Gold in Asian Online Nations Cup
  • Became India’s 17th Woman Grandmaster
  • 34th World Junior Girls Chess Championship- Silver Medal
  • Women International Master title

10. Pratyusha Bodda

CodingHero - 20 Most Famous Indian Chess Players Pratyusha Bodda 01
Grandmaster Pratyusha Bodda
  • Title: Grandmaster
  • FIDE Rating: 2328
  • World: #3902
  • FIDE Peak: 2346 – June 2016
  • Rapid: —– World #2094
  • Blitz: ——- World #2142

Pratyusha Bodda  (born 1997 in Tuni, East Godavari, Andhra Pradesh) was the Indian girls’ under-17 champion in 2012. In April 2015, she earned the Woman International Master (WIM) title. In 2020, she became the third Telugu woman to earn the Woman Grandmaster (WGM) title, after Koneru Humpy (2001) and Dronavalli Harika (2004). As of March 2020, her FIDE standard rating is 2328.

She started playing chess at the age of six. A year later, at the tender age of seven, she won a local tournament that drove her to excel further in Chess. The real epiphany that this is what she wanted to do for the rest of her life came when she won the Under-7 national chess tournament in Kerala.

Prathyusha’s achievements consistently marked her childhood. She won a gold medal at the Under-10 Asian Chess Tournament in Dubai when she was nine and later won a bronze medal in the Under-12 category at the World Chess Tournament in Vietnam.

She won the bronze medal in Vietnam and it is the first medal that I got in a World tournament. The toughest game in her entire career, she says, was with Padmini Rout, the Woman Grandmaster from Orissa. The game lasted six and half hours and she was sure that she would lose but in the end she won the game.

Conclusion: India is quickly becoming a legitimate global chess superpower, leading the United States and China on key metrics, and running neck and neck with Russia, the historically dominant chess power. There is much room for improvement in the country where chess originated 14 centuries ago.

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