Rohini Khadilkar was the youngest of the three Khadilkar sisters (Vasanti and Jayshree the other two). All of them dominated Indian Women’s chess championship for a decade. Khadilkar became National Women’s Chess in 1976 at the age of 13 and was the first to win that championship in three consecutive years. She has held the title on five occasions.
Khadilkar became the first female to compete in the Indian Men’s Championship when she participated in 1976. Her involvement in a male competition caused a furore that necessitated a successful appeal to the High Court and caused the World Chess Federation president, Max Euwe, to rule that women cannot be barred from national and international championships. She beat three state champions – Gaurang Mehta of Gujarat, Abdul Jabbar of Maharashtra and A. K. Ghosh of West Bengal – in the competition.
In 1981, Khadilkar also became the Asian Women’s Chess Championship when the competition was held at Hyderabad. She was unbeaten in that competition and scored 11.5 out of a possible 12 points, which also made her International Woman Master (IWM). In the same year, she became an International Chess Masterand in November 1983 she again won the Asian Women’s title when the competition was held at Kualalumpur, Malaysia.
In 1977, Rohini won the Chhatrapati Award for outstanding performance in chess. Subsequently, she has been awarded India’s highest honour in sports, the Arjuna award. She has also been declared Maharashtra Kanya for her chess exploits.
In 1993, Rohini retired from chess and enrolled as a student at the Printing Technology Institute. She came first in her cohort, earning a Gold Medal. Presently, she is the assistant editor of a leading Marathi newspaper of Mumbai ‘Nava Kaal’, and editor of another Marathi newspaper ‘Sandhyakal’.