Chess Championship- First Woman to win Nationals


This Day in History (10-Oct-1978) – Rohini Khadilkar became the first woman to win the national chess championship

Rohini Khadilkar is the youngest of the three Khadilkar sisters (Vasanti and Jayshree the other two) who ruled Indian Women’s chess championship for decades of 70s and 80s. Khadilar became the first female chess player to compete in the Indian Men’s Championship when she participated in 1976.

Her involvement in a men’s competition caused a cult that called for an appeal to the High Court. World Chess Federation president, Max Euwe (Former World Champion – 1935), ruled that women cannot be barred from national and international championships. She was not only the first female player to compete in a men’s tournament in India, but the first to do so anywhere in the world. This was a historic victory for female chess players everywhere.

In 1977, Rohini won the Chhatrapati Award for outstanding performance in chess. Subsequently, she has been awarded India’s highest honour in sports, the Arjuna award. She has also been declared Maharashtra Kanya for her chess exploits.

  Khadilkar (2115) vs. Gocheva (2080)
Tallinn 1986 · Sicilian, Najdorf, Opovcensky variation


  1. e4 c5        2.         Nf3      d6
  2. d4 cxd4     4.         Nxd4    Nf6
  3. Nc3 a6        6.         Be2      e5
  4. Nb3 Be7      8.         O-O     O-O
  5. a4 Nc6      10.       f4         Nb4
  6. Bf3 Be6      12.       f5         Bc4
  7. Be2 Qc7      14.       Bg5      Rac8
  8. a5 d5        16.       Bxf6     gxf6
  9. exd5 Rfd8     18.       Bxc4    Qxc4
  10. Ra4 Qc7      (D)




  1. Rxb4 Bxb4
  2. Qg4+ Kf8       22.       Qxb4+  Qe7
  3. Qh4 Rxc3    24.       bxc3     Rxd5
  4. Qb4 Rd7      26.       Qxe7+  Kxe7
  5. c4 Rd6      28.       c5        Rd5
  6. Kf2 e4        30.       Ke3      Re5
  7. g4 Kd7      32.       Rd1+    Kc6
  8. c4 h5        34.       h3        Resigns


Even though many young chess fans today have hardly heard their names, the Khadilkar sisters did a lot to change the overall landscape of modern chess. Not only did they begin to put India back on the map as a powerful player in competitive chess, but they also proved that women could be strong chess players and that they deserved to be allowed to compete against male players.

Khadilkar sisters have been great contributors to women’s chess in India. The first women chess players who put India on the Chess World map. Today India has produced many strong women chess players like Koneru Humpy, Harika Dronavali, Tania Sachdev.

Amar Godbole

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