Margao, Oct 30: Goa's first-ever world chess champion, Ivana Furtado, who won the U-8 world championship in Georgia on Saturday, today arrived at the Dabolim airport amidst a rapturous reception from her well-wishers, school officials from Our Lady of Rosary HS, Dona Paula, and representatives of the Goa State Chess Association.
It was understandable that the 7-year-old Ivana was still young enough to be aware of what exactly she had achieved in Georgia. She had won one silver in an Asian U-8 event in Tehran and a bronze in Delhi prior to this feat in Georgia where she was pitted against top challengers from Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Peru and India too.
Incidentally, Ivana overcame a fellow Indian Soumya Mukherjee to confirm herself of the gold medal and with it created history for Goan chess.
That Ivana was fazed by the occasion of having received an overwhelming reception at the airport when she arrived in the company of her parents Mr Ele and Ms Jennifer and brother Keegan, was evident as the little girl seemed lost for words and momentarily appeared to have forgotten the heights she had scaled in world chess. "I am happy," was all that Ivana could utter when asked about her superlative achievement. "My parents, brother and coach helped me to win," she added with a tinge of caution.
Ivana with her incredible feat will be perched at the top as a chess prodigy in the country as no other chess player in India and Goa of course, has ever won U-8 world title.
Only, Bhakti Kulkarni from Margao, who finished 8th in Gerogia, is an Asian Gold medallist from Goa.
"There was no doubting her class as we were confident that Ivana would take the top spot and emerge the U-8 world chess champion considering the quantum of hard work she had put in and the top notch coaching she had received ahead of the world championship," stated Mr Ele Furtado, Ivana's father.
Ivana's strength according to her mother, Ms Jennifer was the able guidance and support offered to her by coaches Raghunandan Gokhale, Shrikant Barve and Wilson Cruz. "Her elder brother Keegan (12) would mentally pep her up and encourage Ivana on matchdays during the entire event," Ms Jennifer disclosed. "Of course as parents, we were always with Ivana in Georgia but it was Keegan's camaraderie with his sister before every match made her grow in confidence in each outing and allowed her to make rapid progress," added Ms Jennifer.
"In retrospect as parents we are perennially indebted to the immense contributions made by the Goa State Chess Association president, Mr Sameer Salgaocar, the Indian chess federation, the Sports Minister, Mr Pandurang Madkaikar and the precious guidance offered by coaches Gokhale, Wilson Cruz, Shrikant Barve and all the support staff who are equal contributors in Ivana's success. To put it in a nut shell, I would say it was a team effort."
Mr Ele opined that w and improved with every victory, which finally gave her a better progressive score and a points tally of 8.5. "Her decisive win in the final contest against Soumya was worth watching. She never lost hope despite resorting to a traditional Cole System, which stunned her opponent and compelled her to surrender to Ivana's great tactical variations before sealing the title," disclosed Mr Ele while speaking to 'The Navhind Times'.
Asked how tough was it for Ivana to stamp her class in a world event, Mr Ele said: "We knew it would be definitely tough but her coaches backed her talent and she delivered at the highest level. Actually, contestants from Poland, Hungary, Belgium, Peru and India itself were tough contenders but Ivana braved every one on her way to clinching the top spot."
"It was her ability to think quickly and pounce on to her rivals in a flash always worked wonders for Ivana which in the end proved vital," summed up Mr Ele.
In his congratulatory message conveyed through his wife Ms Sonali, Mr Sameer Salgaocar, who is away in Jammu, said: "I am overwhelmed by Ivana's achievement and it shows that Goans are second to none. Her feat will inspire many other youngsters looking up to chess and the fact that Ivana has created history in Goa puts the icing on the cake in every sense of the word."
The Goa State Chess Association secretary, Mr Suhas Asnodkar who was present at the airport, confirmed that Mr Salgaocar had announced a cash bonanza of Rs 1 lakh for Ivana while the state government had promised to reimburse Ivana's travelling expenses to Georgia which had amounted to Rs 1,00,3000. That apart, Mr V M Prabhudesai, SAG executive director, who received the Furtados at Cortalim on their way back home to Panaji, has announced SAG's Rs 5 lakh reward in recognition of Ivana's feat. The GSCA has plans to felicitate Ivana in a grand way once Mr Salgaocar returns from Jammu.