| Mary Ann Gomes with the national women’s B trophy at Gorky Sadan on Sunday
Calcutta: As a six-year-old, Mary Ann Gomes made headlines in The Telegraph Schools’ Chess Championship in 1996. She surprised everybody, winning her first two games and sharing, briefly though, the top position .
If that was the first sign of a prodigy in Mary Ann, eight years down the line there are still those elements of surprises, when she lifted the national women’s B crown on Friday.
Hours of practice at Gorky Sadan and listening to good advice from seniors like Women Grandmaster Nisha Mohota were enough to see through a horde of challengers in Kozhikode. “Winning any championship is a great feeling. And when it comes to national B, it becomes special,” Mary Ann said on Sunday, after reaching the city with glory in hand and more determination in heart.
Nisha, incidentally, went to the Howrah station to receive her.
The 14-year-old student, however, was honest while assessing the latest feather on her cap.
“The championship wasn’t on my mind initially. I just wanted to qualify for the national A,” Mary Ann told The Telegraph on Sunday evening, as she went straight to Gorky Sadan, to watch the 17th edition of The Telegraph Schools’ Chess in progress.
“It was only in the penultimate round, when I defeated Bhagyashree Thipsay, that I got a sniff at title,” she said.
But accounting for the defending champion Thipsay was not enough, if not decisive, as the Bengal girl shared the lead with two Tamil Nadu challengers — P. Sivasankari and N. Raghavi — with 6.5 points each.
“As we went into the final round, I had the lowest progressive score among the leaders. But being pitted against one of the leaders (Raghavi) helped me in that a win would increase the score, though a lot depended on the match involving Sivasankari since she needed just a draw,” Mary Ann revealed.
Sivasankari, however, lost to Andhra girl N. Vinuthna while Mary Ann outwitted Raghavi .
Apart from national A, the current national under-16 rapid chess champion now also trains her eyes on the world age meet in Greece, slated for November, where she has earned the automatic qualification by virtue of being the champion in Kozhikode.
This is a conviction coming straight from a teenager, who won the gold in the Asian age group (under-9) in 1999 and tested her wit against Garri Kasparov next year, when the legend played simultaneously with 20-odd players on the Internet.
May be, we’ll be waiting for another surprise from Mary Ann.