The latest addition (54th) to the list of Grandmasters in India is 14-year-old Arjun Erigaisi. With his win at the Abu Dhabi Masters 2018 a couple of days ago, the youngster has emerged as the first boy from the Telangana to become a Grandmaster.
“It’s a proud feeling and I am very happy,” says a beaming Arjun who has put Hanumakonda (Warangal district) on the global chess map with his win. “I worked very hard to achieve this. I had to compete with several tough players during the tournament. But I am glad I eventually won. I ran and hugged my mom when I learnt I had become a Grandmaster,” says Arjun.
A child-prodigy, Arjun had earlier won several medals on the international circuit. But interestingly, what started as a hobby eventually turned into a profession.
“I started to play chess for fun with my friends when I was 8 years old and it gradually became my passion. After I started winning tournaments, my father put me onto professional chess at 11.”
Arjun, who is currently being trained under renowned Israeli coach Mikhalevski Victor, practices for around nine hours a day. “But I don’t feel tired because I love it,” he replies, adding, “After my coach gives me online training, I practice with my friends and also with other Grandmasters.”
The young kid went onto achieve all three IM norms in the last six months, a testimony to his amazing ability. “I’m mostly travelling for tournaments, so I go to school only for a few months. But my principal and other teachers have always been encouraging,” reveals the class X student, who credits his parents, Dr Srinivas Rao and Jyothi, for his success.
Arjun says chess has even helped him academically, by aiding him in solving math problems. “I became good at logical thinking and reasoning. I think most of the chess players feel the same way,” he shares, adding, “One of my biggest challenges was handling failure. Initially, I used to feel bad after losing and my parents would cheer me up. But after a couple of years, I have learnt how to fight back.”
This young boy’s ultimate aim is to be a World Champion. “I am inspired by India’s Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand. I also enjoy watching Norway’s Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen and Russia’s Garry Kasparov,” shares Arjun, who is now looking forward to the Under-15 Olympiad in November.