Her achievements belie her age. At 15, Padmini Rout possesses in her showcase one world, five Asian and four national titles. Chess, in which she has collected all these laurels, tends to be underestimated as a non-Olympic sport, requiring little or no physical strain. But it is a fact that Padmini’s achievement has led a state, with a population of around four crore, take to the 64-square game as much as they have to sports such as cricket, athletics and football.
No wonder many parents in Orissa want their offspring take to chess and numerous children dream of becoming the next Padmini. No wonder Padmini is seen as another Konneru Humpy of India, Maia Chiburdanidze of Georgia and Judith Polgar of Hungary in the making. No wonder the media is projecting her as a star like Dilip Tirkey, Debasis Mohanty, Shiv Sundar Das, Anuradha Biswal and Sradhanjali Samantaray. And no wonder the All India Chess Federation secretary D V Sundar describes her as “the darling of the game.”
Now a Woman International Master (WIM), petite Padmini works diligently to become a Woman Grand Master (WGM) next, International Master (IM), Grand Master (GM) thereafter and a senior World champion eventually. The Asian Junior (u-20) Championship at Colombo, where she beat WGM Soumya Swaminathan and fellow WIM Kiran Manisha Mohanty on her way to the girls’ crown earlier this month, proved Padmini is right on track.
Any player would have returned home to celebrate the Asian Junior triumph. But Padmini wasted no time in packing her bag to leave for the Netherlands to play a series of three open international tournaments. After returning from the Netherlands, she will compete in the 4th International Open GM Tournament at Kolkata (Aug 31 to Sept 10), followed by the World Junior in Argentina (October), World Youth in Turkey (November) and the Commonwealth championship at Singapore (December).
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– GM Susan Polgar