Indonesian Woman Grandmaster (WGM) Irene Kharisma Sukandar will become the first Indonesian woman to take part in the Women’s World Chess Championship in 2015 after triumphing at the Asian Continental Chess Championship in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam over the weekend.
“Irene attending the women’s world championship is history for Indonesia, because we’ve never had a representative,” Indonesian Chess Association (PERCASI) spokeswoman Urry Kartopati told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday, referring to the World Chess Federation (FIDE) – sanctioned championship, the location of which has not yet been decided.
Irene (Elo rating 2288) managed to beat Indian WGM Eesha Karavade (2353) in the final round to collect the winning seven points, while closest rival, Indian WGM Mary Ann Gomez (2378), recorded 6.5 points after being defeated by China’s WGM Tan Zhongyi (2430).
“Actually, we were quite confident that Irene could really nail the victory when she was leading with 5.5 points in round six,” said Urry. The second-ranked contender was WGM Nguyen Thi Thanh An (2301).
In round eight, however, Irene lost the No. 1 spot to Gomez.
“When she eventually knocked out Eesha, while Mary Ann lost to Zhongyi, Irene secured the winning seven points in the final round, which is her first triumph in 2012,” Urry said of the event, which applied a Swiss nine-round competition format.
Irene becomes the third Indonesian to reach a world-level chess tournament, following GM Utut Adianto (five times) and GM Susanto Megaranto (two times) in FIDE’s World Chess Championship.
PERCASI sport development deputy Rikardo said that Irene’s achievement showed significant progress after an unsatisfying performance during the past year.
“Irene was a bit off. Maybe because she did not find a challenge who could motivate her to be better,” Rikardo told the Post.
Irene only took a bronze medal in the women’s standard chess in the 27th SEA Games in November last year, while she was expected to perform better. “After the SEA Games, we decided to apply a promotion-degradation system, which pushes each athlete to win every tournament and avoid deterioration.
Irene, along with rising stars WFM Medina Warda Aulia and WIM Chelsie Monica Sihite, are currently participating in the Asian Nations Cup in Zao Zhuang, China, until May 26.