R Vaishali has become India's latest Woman Grandmaster (WGM) as the 17-year-old won her third and final WGM norm at the RTU Open chess tournament in Riga, Latvia on Sunday.
By doing so, Vaishali has joined an elite list, which also includes Padma Shri Koneru Humpi, Subbaraman Vijayalakshmi, and Harika Dronavalli.
Vaishali's achievement comes weeks after her younger brother, R Praggnanandhaa became the second youngest Grandmaster in the history of the game.
Vaishali, 17, got her second WGM norm at Gredine Open, in which Praggnanandhaa got his third and final norm and went on to create history.
Congratulations R Vaishali (17) for becoming the latest Woman Grandmaster from India.— Sarang Bhalerao (@bhaleraosarang) August 13, 2018
Just a few days back her younger brother Praggnanandhaa (12) became the 2nd youngest Grandmaster in chess history@chessvaishali@rpragchess pic.twitter.com/Ok5TxPVllN
For a Grandmaster title, a player needs to earn three norms and a combined Elo rating of 2500.
Vaishali's coach RB Ramesh, who also trains the 12-year-old Praggnanandhaa, lauded his ward's feat and urged her to become men's Grandmaster soon.
"Just like Praggu (Praggnanandhaa), Vaishali too has been extremely hardworking and talented. She went through a rough patch in the last few years but overcame that by working extra hard on her game," Ramesh, who runs an academy in Chennai, told The Times of India.
"I feel Vaishali's next target should be to become a men's GM."
Vaishali had been struggling to find her form since last year but two medals at Asian Championships (gold in Blitz and a bronze in the Classical format) had given her the much-needed boost in confidence.
She was also a part of the Indian team that won the gold in the Blitz event at Asian Nations Cup in August earlier this month.
Coach Ramesh believes the Woman Grandmaster title will only help overcome sterner challenges in future.
"I believe Vaishali's confidence will definitely go up after getting this title under her belt. If she continues to work this hard, then I am certain no goal will be too far for her."
Notably, the two chess-crazy kids from Chennai often spend their time at home playing against each other. Vaishali is Praggnanandhaa's sparring partner and vice-versa.
The siblings started training under Ramesh in 2014 after moving from Blossom Chess Academy in the South Indian city.
Vaishali, an U-12 and U-14 world title winner, had revealed last year that she took to chess only after her parents enrolled her in a chess class.
"I used to watch a lot of cartoons when I was six years or so. My parents wanted me to wean away from being glued to the television set and enrolled me in chess and drawing classes," Vaishali was quoted as saying by Press Trust of India.
"Later, when I played my first tournament, I got a prize for being the youngest player, which sort of aroused my interest for the game."