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“I used to play poker online but I don’t think we can count it as a sport,” laughs 18-year old Vaibhav Suri, the third youngest Indian Chess Grandmaster, when asked if he plays any sports or games other than chess.
For Vaibhav, it all started with his family. “My dad and sister knew the basics of chess. They both taught me as well. And then there were hobby centre classes of chess going on in my school so I joined and from there on it kinda started.”
He made steady progress. In 2006, he stood second in the under-9 Nationals. “It was my first major win. It’s been almost 11 years into chess now.” After that competition, he kept winning one tournament after another. He plays 8-10 tournaments a year. To date, he’s plays 90 tournaments overall, out of which 20 are international ones.
Chess pretty much influences every aspect of his life. Chess also helps him solve a lot of teenage problems that kids his age usually go through. “I am always learning. I believe if you are learning you’ll grow. There is no harm if you lose while learning. Chess has really helped me in a lot of areas. So I don’t believe in the notion of managing ‘stressful’ situations, it’s just a desirable or a learning situation.” Chess even got him into Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) on a sports quota.
Ask him his toughest competition till date and he says “Every game has been challenging. But just to mention a game against the highest rated player I have played against till date I would say it has to be one against Gharamian Tigran (2663). I have beaten many other GMs and Tigran had highest rating points. The game against Tigran wasn’t really challenging cause he blundered right after the opening phase of the game after which it was a pretty smooth victory for me.”
He’s been playing chess for 11 years and this me to ask him how does it feel representing India on the international stage. Pat came the reply, “Chess is an individual sport so I’m usually just representing myself.”
Vaibhav loves watching Sherlock Holmes and House of Cards. He reads a lot of books, mostly biographies.
It was time was bring an end to the interview and my last question was: Do girls like chess players? I can honestly say that I stumped Vaibhav here. “Chess is not a spectator sport. And how would I know if girls find me interesting or not I’m not a star or some high achiever guy.”
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