R Vaishali is a prominent chess player. She is the winner of the FIDE titles – International Master (IM) and Woman Grandmaster (WGM). She is the elder sister of R Praggnanandhaa, the Indian Chess Grandmaster.
R Vaishali was born on Thursday, 21 June 2001 (age 21 years; as of 2022) in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. Her zodiac sign is Cancer. She completed her school education at Velammal Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Chennai. In 2022, she completed a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from M.O.P. Vaishnav College for Women, Chennai. According to her, she loved watching a lot of television in her childhood. After noticing this habit, her parents enrolled her in a local chess and drawing class. In a media conversation, she stated that soon after learning the chess concepts and rules, she won the youngest participant prize in a chess tournament, which encouraged her to pursue the game. She recalled,
When I was 6 or 7 years old, I used to watch a lot of TV, so my parents decided to put me in chess and drawing classes near our home. Then, I just went for a tournament and got the youngest participant prize in my first event.”
A childhood picture of R Vaishali with her brother
R Vaishali and her brother received their initial chess training from coach S Thiyagarajan.
Vaishali and Praggnanandhaa with Coach Thiyagarajan
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
Her father’s name is Rameshbabu, and he works at Tamil Nadu State Corporation Bank as a branch manager. Her mother’s name is Nagalakshmi, and she is a homemaker. She has a younger brother named R Praggnanandhaa, who is a Chess Grandmaster.
R Vaishali with her parents and younger brother
She is not married.
In 2012, R Vaishali participated in the Under-12 Girls’ World Youth Chess Championship held in Maribor, Slovenia and won the same.
Vaishali received the World under-12 Champion’s trophy in 2012
She then R Vaishali clinched the Under-14 Girls’ World Youth Chess Championship in 2015. Her brother, Praggnanandhaa, also participated in the same championships and won the World U-10 title.
R Vaishali and her brother in 2015
Thereafter, R Vaishali clinched the Woman International Master (WIM) title in 2016. She was ranked second in India and twelfth in the world in the U16-player category after winning this title. She was the winner of the Woman Grandmaster (WGM) title, which she clinched during the Riga Technical University Open chess tournament in Riga, Latvia. During the same year, R Vaishali competed in the Sunway Sitges International Chess Festival and was selected as the Best woman player of the event.
R Vaishali after being chosen as the Best woman player at Sunway Sitges International Chess Festival in 2018
R Vaishali then clinched a gold medal in an Online Olympiad in a team event in 2020. Upon winning a gold medal, she became the first Indian woman to clinch a gold medal for India in an online Olympiad.
A newspaper article on Vaishali when she won a gold medal in 2020
R Vaishali achieved the International Master (IM) title in 2021.
Vaishali with former World Championship Challenger Boris Gelfand and former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik at the Microsense training camp in Chennai in 2020
In 2022, R Vaishali won her second Grandmaster norm and scored 7.0/9 after contending in the 8th Fischer Memorial championship. During the same year, she defeated her opponent Bibisara Assaubayeva, a Women’s World Blitz Chess Champion in the 16th round during the FIDE Women’s Speed Chess Championship. R Vaishali and Harika Dronavalli competed in the quarterfinals of the same championships. On 10 August 2022, she created history along with her teammates Tania Sachdev, Koneru Humpy, and D Harika by winning a bronze medal at an Olympiad organised in Tamil Nadu, India, and this team became the first-ever Indian women’s team to win a medal in an International Olympiad in women’s section.
(Clockwise from left) Tania Sachdev, Koneru Humpy, R Vaishali, and D Harika were part of the first Indian women’s team to win a Chess Olympiad medal
- 2021: International Master
- 2016: Woman International Master
- 2013: Woman FIDE Master (WFM)
- At the age of 12, she competed with the noted chess champion Magnus Carlsen, who came to India for a customary check of the arrangements of an international tournament in India in 2013. He decided to play against twenty junior players from India. Magnus Carlsen was defeated by her in a chess match, which left him in a shock.
R Vaishali during a chess competition
- According to her parents, during national and international chess tournaments, the school and college authorities of R Vaishnavi helped her a lot by allowing her to skip her regular classes. According to some media sources, she received admission in a graduation course before completing her twelfth standard examinations.
- Since 2014, R Vaishali and her brother are receiving chess coaching from Grandmaster R.B. Ramesh.
Pragg and Vaishali with GM R.B. Ramesh
- According to R Vaishali, her father is suffering from polio since childhood. She stated in a media conversation that she was not accompanied by her father during her international tournaments. She continued by saying that her father always arranged her travel tickets, accommodation etc.
- The hobbies of R Vaishali include listening to music, playing badminton with her brother, and cycling.
- Once, R Vaishali mentioned in one of her interviews with a media house that her brother regularly helped her during the preparations of her chess tournaments as her brother was a Chess Grandmaster. In 2021, in the same conversation, she added that he always helped her in clarifying her doubts. R Vaishali said,
My brother, he’s 15 years old and is a Grandmaster. He is a huge-huge support for me. In terms of chess, he will clarify whatever doubts that I have and make it very easy (for me). Of course, we fight a lot but when we work on chess its always interesting and I get to learn a lot.”
R Vaishali and her younger brother while discussing chess doubts
- R Vaishali is associated with the Westbridge Anand Chess Academy for professional training in chess. This academy trains and helps aspiring chess players in India for their future tournaments. In this academy is trained by noted Indian Grandmasters Artur Yusupov, Sandipan Chanda, and Grzegorz Gajewski, who are a part of this academy. This academy was established by prominent Indian chess player Viswanathan Anand. In a media interview, Vaishali revealed that she met Anand for the first time when she was in her second standard. She idolize Viswanathan Anand since childhood. She recalled,
My inspiration has always been Anand sir. I remember in 1st or 2nd standard there was this thing where they used to invite sports champions for annual days in our school. It was the first time I saw him, and I didn’t know that I would get to train with him later.”
Vaishali and Pragg with their idol at the Velammal School felicitation ceremony