This episode of the series is about the history of 24th July covering significant battles, rebellions, disasters, and milestones in various fields. The feature story focuses on Subbaraman Vijayalakshmi, the first Indian woman to achieve the title of Grandmaster in chess, celebrating her remarkable journey and contributions to the game.
Surfing the history of 24th July I see that it was this day in the year 1411 when the Battle of Harlaw was fought. It was one of the bloodiest battles in Scotland, which takes place in north of Inverurie in Aberdeenshire. It was one of a series of battles fought during the Middle Ages between the barons of northeast Scotland against those from the west coast.
Probing further into the history of 24th July I find on this day Citizens of Leeuwarden, Netherlands, rebelled against the ban on foreign beer in the year 1487.
Again from the history of 24th July, we find the Great Fire of Constantinople where two-thirds of the city was destroyed including 280,000 wooden houses, with a death toll of around 40,000. This was in the year 1660.
Many more events unfolded on this day in the history of 24th July. In the year 1683, it was this day when the 1st settlers from Germany to the US, leave aboard Concord. Again it was this day in the year 1793 when France passed the first-ever copyright law. Moreover on this day in the year 1823, Slavery was abolished in Chile. In the year 1847 Rotary-type printing press patents were received by Richard March Hoe, NYC.
With this, I come to the feature story from the history of 24th. July.
First Woman Grandmaster of India
On the 24th of July, the year 2000 marked a moment of great pride for India as it celebrated the achievement of its first Indian woman Grandmaster, Subbaraman Vijayalakshmi. Born on the 25th of March, 1979, she is a highly accomplished Indian chess player, holding the prestigious FIDE titles of International Master (IM) and Woman Grandmaster (WGM). Notably, she was the first female player in India to attain these remarkable titles. Her contribution to Indian chess has been unparalleled, earning her numerous medals in the Chess Olympiads, making her the most decorated Indian player in this prestigious tournament.
Vijayalakshmi’s journey in chess began in Madras, where her father introduced her to the game. Over the years, she honed her skills and showcased her talent in various tournaments. In 1986, she participated in her first tournament, the Tal Chess Open, and from there, she continued to achieve excellence. Her early triumphs included winning the Indian Championship in the U10 girls’ category in 1988 and 1989, and twice in the U12 category.
Her success continued in subsequent years as she secured significant victories in the Zone tournament in Madras (1995), Asian Zone tournaments in Teheran (1997) and Mumbai (1999), and the Commonwealth Women’s Championship in Kolkata (1996) and Mumbai (2003). Vijayalakshmi also dominated the Indian Women’s Championship, claiming victory in multiple editions from 1995 to 2002.
Notably, she made significant strides in her career, becoming a Woman International Master (WIM) in 1996 after her impressive performance in the FIDE Zonal tournament in Chennai. In 2000, she achieved the esteemed title of Woman Grandmaster (WGM), yet another milestone for Indian chess. Furthermore, Vijayalakshmi demonstrated her versatility by also earning the title of International Master (IM) through her performance at the Chess Olympiad 2000, becoming the first female Indian player to attain this title.
Throughout her career, Vijayalakshmi continued to excel, securing Grandmaster norms in Kalamaria and a victory in Cutro. Her prowess extended internationally as she competed in various prestigious tournaments, including the Biel Accentus Ladies Tournament in July 2005 and the LGA Open in Nuremberg, Germany, in 2006. She also contributed her skills to the Brackweder SC in the NRW competition during the 2006/2007 season.
In 2016, Vijayalakshmi added another impressive feat to her record, tying for 2nd–3rd place with Russian grandmaster Boris Grachev in the 8th Chennai Open.
Throughout her career, Vijayalakshmi has been a trailblazer for Indian women in chess and an inspiration to aspiring players. Her dedication and exceptional skills have left an indelible mark on the Indian chess community, and her achievements will be remembered for generations to come.
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A devoted foodie with keen interest in wild life, music, cinema and travel Somashis has evolved over time . Being an enthusiastic reader he has recently started making occasional contribution to write-ups.