Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mary Ann Gomes Arrives!

From The Times of India:

Mary arrives on the big stage

CHENNAI: For 12 years, Mary Ann Gomes played and won chess tournaments of different levels. On Wednesday, her career reached a new road which will put the 22-year-old on par with the few stalwarts of Indian women's chess. Her first Premier national women's title will give Mary Ann a ticket to the Indian team's journey to the biennial Olympiad next year but more that what the Kolkata girl would be pleased about her performance in Chennai in the last two weeks is the way she methodically achieved her targets.

"I was not looking at the title when I started," said Mary Ann, who first won a national title (under-10) in 1999. "I had made two IM norms (men's) and I was happy that I could add the third (and the title) in the penultimate round," she added. India has only two (men's) Grandmasters among women in Koneru Humpy and D Harika and only four IMs in the fairer sex, though there are many Women's Grandmasters.

To her credit, Mary Ann, who is on a contract with AAI, has achieved everything without much help from outside. "I used to train with GM Dibyendu Barua but now I am on my own," says the new champion proudly. Of course, women's chess in India is at a crossroads with even the likes of Humpy and Harika not able to get the right coaches to further their career.

However, Mary Ann, at the moment, is not bugged by this. "When I started, I liked chess and so I did not think about anything else. I did not set any goals for me," she said as she held the trophy closely. "Dad (Charles Gomes) used to play chess. Maybe, when I played in the Ahmedabad age-group national when I was 9, I thought I should set goals for myself."

She achieved two of the goals in Chennai in the last fortnight (IM title and Premier national trophy) but Mary Ann knows her journey has just started and not reached anywhere. "I have a long way to go," she looked afar and muttered, maybe to herself. She will add some 30 Elo points from the Chennai meet and could move closer to the rating requirement for IM title (2400 points). Mary Ann knows that she will be going to the Olympiad but then she has already got enough experience in that area.

"I played in the Olympiad in 2006 (Turin) and 2008 (Dresden). The last time, I won a silver medal on the reserve board," recalled Mary of her Dresden performance. The new champion's next goal should be to emulate Humpy and Harika and belong to the men's field completely.

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