Pune girl Aakanksha Hagawane, daughter of a wholesale veg etable seller, captured the biggest chess title of her fledgling career when she won the under-16 girls' chess crown at the FIDE World Youth Championships in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia, on Monday.
The world crown complet ed a hat-trick of sorts for Aakanksha as she successfully defended the under-16 Commonwealth championship title in Sri Lanka and clinched the under-17 national title in Kolkata in the last two months.
On Monday , Aakanksha sealed the championship when she won with white pieces on the second board against Sliwicka Alicja of Poland in the 11th and final round to finish with a tally of nine points.
Going into the final game, Aakanksha was tied on eight points with Dutch girl Kazarian Anna-Maja, but the latter lost with white to Alinasab Mobina of Iran on the top board.
Mobina thus sneaked past Anna-Maja to capture the runner-up spot with 8.5 points, just half a point behind the Indian.
Shuvalova Polina of Russia, who had handed Aakanksha the only defeat in the tournament, also tallied 8.5 points but Mobina had a better tiebreak score. For Aakanksha, the tournament was a success on more than one front as she also earned her second International Woman Master's norm. She had earned her first one in Seoul last year.
Having gone into the tournament as the 12th seed, she scored eight wins and two draws while suffering one loss to return with a performance rating of 2362 much above her current Elo rat ing of 2,208.
Aakanksha played against four players rated above her, beat three and lost to one.
The victory will ensure her 98 rating points and see her cross the 2,300 mark, which is equivalent to the rating of the Woman Grandmaster norm.The win also earned Aakanksha a direct entry into next year's World Youth Championship, to be held in South America.
"I couldn't have achieved this feat without my father's support all these years. His constant encouragement and support has been a big source of strength for me," said Aakanksha, a Class XI student of SP College here.