Trichy woman secures gold in World Individual Chess Championship for the disabled
Dennis Selvan | Jul 2, 2013, 06.02 AM IST

TRICHY: Jennitha Anto, a polio-stricken woman from Ponmalaipatti on the outskirts of Trichy, has become the first Indian to win the gold medal at the World Individual Chess Championship for the handicapped held in Czech Republic recently.

Both Jennitha and the current World FIDE Master (WFM), Melinik Galina, had scored three wins, lost three and drew three in the nine-round event. However, the 26-year-old Trichy woman was declared the winner based on the Buchholz tie-breaker that basically takes the sum of points scored by their individual opponents. Jennitha secured 35 points against 33.5 of the Russian.

The Championship is organised by the International Physically Disabled Chess Association. The 13th edition of the Championship was held between June 17 and 26. Interestingly, this year’s tournament for the physically disabled chess players with reduced efficiency of the musculoskeletal system was held at Velke Losiny which is known for therapeutic sulfur hot springs which have beneficial effects. The FIDE open tournament was based on the Swiss system of nine rounds with 90 minutes per game plus bonus 30 seconds for each move. There were 48 players in all including 16 Russians, but Jennitha was the only Indian. Twenty-five players, both men and women, played sitting in their wheelchairs. Jennitha lost to men in the three rounds.

Since the WCM (World Candidate Master) Jennitha has won the world championship, she would in due course be crowned the WFM, the top world honour for the physically disabled players. “But my ultimate aim is to win the grand master title in the common category,” Jennitha told this correspondent on Monday morning at the district collector’s office where she was congratulated by collector Jayashree Muralidharan who promised her a prize amount of Rs 25,000 from the collector’s district fund.

The Championship prize money of 250 Euro (around Rs 18,000) is a pittance considering the rewards for winners in other popular games. At a time when chess coaching has become prohibitive — one has to cough up Rs 1,000 for an hour and a minimum of 50 to 75 hours of training is required before embarking on a world event — Jennitha is financially in dire straits. Jennitha had finished second in the Warsaw tournament in 2007, and her father, a retired school headmaster, had emptied all his savings on the tour. As fate would have it, though Jennitha had been invited for the 2012 tournament in Turkey, she could not make it as her father had met with a motor accident and was hospitalised for six months for a knee injury. “Anyway, I have finally made it, thanks to Sacred Heart of Jesus,” said Jennitha.


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