Bhubaneswar Buzz

Reign of India’s chess Queen Padmini of Odisha continues : won National women’s premier championship for 4th successive year

One of Padmini Rout’s favourite films is Queen. Little wonder, perhaps.

She is very much the queen in India’s domestic chess; she won the National women’s premier championship for the fourth successive year at Surat a few days ago. And she somehow reminds you of Kangana Ranaut, the heroine of Queen.

“Yes, I have often been told that I look like her,” she says, flashing her disarming smile. “I take it as a compliment. Kangana is one of my favourite actresses.”

There is bit of an artist in Padmini, too. She loves to paint. Like her elder sister Emlee.

As a young girl, it was the many triumphs of Emlee — now an engineer in Germany — as a schoolgirl that made Padmini competitive as a chess player. “My sister used to win so many prizes; I would pretend that they were all mine and tell people as much,” the 23-year-old from Bhubaneswar reminisces. “When I began playing chess — because my father felt that it would help in my studies — I saw it an opportunity to win prizes myself.”

She no longer needed to pass her sister’s trophies as her own, as she took no time to establish herself as one of India’s most promising talents in the mind sport. “I had begun playing the game only at the age of nine and had no intention of taking it seriously,” she says. “But, when I started winning the first prizes, I wanted to play more.”

When she clinched three significant titles in 2005 — the National Under-11 and Under-13 championships as well as the Asian Under-12 — she realised that chess was probably her life. She went on to win bigger things, such as the World under-14 championship in 2008, the bronze medal at the World juniors in 2010 and an individual gold at the Chess Olympiad in 2014.

Favourite title

“Winning the Olympiad gold in Norway is something that I will always cherish a lot; women from 131 countries had competed in that event,” Padmini says. “And it was that year I had won my first National premier title. It remains the favourite of my four Premiers.”’

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