Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Train journeys are of many types. The ordinary ones that don’t interest a regular traveler, the special ones for first timers like kids and the ones that make legends. It was an ordinary train journey from Mumbai to Chennai that a young kid was denied a chance to play a game of chess by his elder cousins. It was on that day that he resolved to learn the game and beat the elder cousins at their own game.

He learnt chess and beat not only his elder cousins- on the way he’s picked up quite a few laurels. N Srinath, India’s youngest FIDE Master for quite some time has also defeated many higher ranked players and is now the reigning world u-12 chess champion. “I was really releived to take the pressure off my back,” admits Srinath of his campaign for the championship.
Pacing around the hall, after he lost his last round tie to a Filipino player, he had to await results of the other boards before the crown was his. “This is probably result of his lack of fitness,” confesses C L Narayanan, his father who has spared no efforts in bringing him this far. When asked about the times spent on physical exercises Srinath nonchalantly spreads out his palms as if to indicate five minutes. No wonder then he has often struggled in the last couple of rounds any tournament including the Asian Youth Championships in Calicut a couple of years ago where the title was his had he not lost the last two rounds. “This is one area he needs to work on,” says his coach Mari Arul, who is a renowned player himself.There sure must be some strengths also which have brought Srinath to where he is today. “Tactically brilliant, very calculative and a very fast player,” shoots Mari Arul. “He also needs to probably tune up his end games,” adds Arul. “Sky high confidence which he possess is definitely an added advantage,” feels Narayanan.

He has been through all extremes like a school that wouldn’t give him time off to play tournaments, to a school that will never allow him to school, instead ask him to play only chess till he changed over to a right school and found a right balance. This change has helped him take his ELO rating pass the 2100 point mark- he should end up at around 2200 at the end of the year.

It is not everyday that Viswanathan Anand calls up somebody twice. To congratulate him and to say he liked his games at the world championships. When Srinath was not home to receive the call, Anand promptly called him second time to wish him well.

If this is what a train journey can do to a determined kid, the ranks of two elder cousins of Srinath will only swell in the near future. And so will India’s list of world beaters.


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