Dream debut

Padmini Rout was the surprise packet of this year’s Chess Olympiad.

The 20-year-old from Bhuvaneswar unleashed her best form on her debut in the premier team event by scoring an incredible 7.5 points from eight games.

Though India finished 10th in a field of 136 countries, Padmini provided the glitter by winning the gold medal as a reserve player.

In fact, Padmini’s success-rate of 93.8 percent was the highest in the women’s section that saw 673 players from 136 countries.

This ‘baby of the team’ performed with maturity of a seasoned campaigner. Never did she give any indication of being overawed by the occasion. Perhaps, the experience of being among the medals at various levels kept her focused. A former World under-14 champion and World junior bronze-medallist, Padmini also claimed the third spot in the 2011 Asian Championship.

Given her talent and hard work, Padmini needed a breakthrough performance in the presence of the world elite, to be noticed globally. This well-mannered girl, capable of ruthlessly destroying her unsuspecting rivals, has the potential to reach greater heights. She has quality but lacks the consistency that separates good players from the best.

Now that Padmini has excelled at the world stage, one can expect this youngster to break into the elite bracket among the ladies and lend solidity to the Indian challenge in the future.

Rakesh Rao