Vantika Agrawal was hardly 8 when she fingered the chess board, and now at 14, she is a WIM - a mind-blowing feat! The next move -- Grand Master!

At the conclusion of the Group A tournament of the Sant Marti Open, Indian chess got richer by yet another Women International Master. This new brand new addition to the Indian league of titled players was the Indian girl, Vantika Agrawal. Previously, Vantika had scored WIM norms at the IIFL Mumbai Open and Sharjah Open this year. She had also been issued a norm at the Dubai Open 2017, but due to its technical incorrectness, it was not awarded to her. Nevertheless, the 14-year-old fought on and bagged her final WIM norm in the Spanish city of Barcelona to complete all requirements for her title. 

Here are few bytes of her interview

Back to back norms in three tournaments, that's a superb performance! What was your mind set during these tournaments? How did you celebrate your achievement?

My first norm in IIFL Mumbai came as a surprise to me but the Sharjah and Dubai tournaments, I played my best for norms. I got my first norm on my mom’s birthday and the second was on my dad’s birthday. I was extremely happy and celebrated with family and friends.

When did you start playing? What made you fall in love with the game?

I was seven and a half years old when I first touched the chess board. I started playing chess in school and was enjoying playing it with my brother Vishesh. I started winning trophies from the very beginning of my chess career. Soon I realized that I had an immense passion for chess.

Bronze medal at the World Youth Championship in 2015

Which, in your opinion, is the best game of your career so far?

My favourite game is with Elizaveta Solozhenkina (rated 2320) at the World Youth Championship in 2016.

Your mom has been a big support. How does she inspire you? 

Before the match, my mother boosts my confidence and when I lose a match she never scolds me. Instead, she motivates me and tries to make me regain my confidence. She has accompanied me to all the tournaments till date and is a pillar of strength to me.

With her mom Sangeeta

On an average, how many hours a day do you work on chess? What about physical training?

I try to work for 8 hours a day but when I go to school I can only practice for 4 hours a day. I do yoga in the morning and play badminton in the evening for an hour.

What are your favourite chess books? In terms of playing style, whom do you associate yourself with? 

I like reading  Dvoretsky’s books. Earlier I used to associate my style with Anatoly Karpov. Now I associate it with Magnus Carlsen.

At the World Youth Championship 2016

An open tournament has many variations: single rounds and double rounds. How do you cope with the tension? 

Earlier I used to play three rounds a day in a tournament. So playing two rounds was never a problem for me. But now I like playing only a game match a day as it is generally a long and tiring game. Two-games-a-day becomes comfortable for me when I can get enough rest between the rounds.

How do you react to losses in tournaments? 

I am very upset with losses. Earlier, I used to cry a lot. While sleeping too, I used to murmur. But now, I have matured. I try to learn from my mistakes now and concentrate on my next games after I have lost.

How do you unwind? What do you do in leisure time? Any favourite movies/songs etc? 

In my leisure time, I watch live games and keep in touch with recent happenings in the chess world. I also like watching movies. My favourite movie is Dangal.

Vantika received the National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement in Chess from Hon. Pranab Mukherjee the then President of India


What is your goal as regards to chess? How do you intend to go ahead with your career in the coming years? 

I want to become a Grand Master. Also, I wish to play for the Indian and win a medal for my country.

Interview Courtesy 

ChessBase India

First Published: 23-Sep-2017- 18:07