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“It takes a lot to become a Grandmaster”

Apeejay Panchsheel Park student Aryan Nair, who won first position in an online open chess tournament recently, on idolising Viswanathan Anand and defeating the computer



Aryan Nair, a class 10 student at Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park, recently won the first position in the Under-15 category at the Open Chess tournament organised by Let’s Chess and Classic Mind Chess Academy. In an interview, the chess champion shares his practice schedule, future targets and idols in the world of black and white squares.

At what age did you start playing chess?

I started to play chess from the age of five. I learnt it from my father actually. He taught me the game and I used to love playing against him. I have liked chess since childhood but it was only during the lockdown that I started playing chess regularly again. I got addicted to the game and started to practice a lot.

What are some of your preferred opening moves?

King’s Pawn opening is my preferred opening move.  I move the pawn two steps ahead. It is very natural to me as a move. It opens more options for the queen and the bishop to come into the game. It also gives me the space to attack. In chess, I am very aggressive in my style, so the King’s pawn move helps me there. 

Who is your idol in the world of chess?

Anish Giri. He is a world-class chess player. I look up to him.

Viswanathan Anand (left) and Anish Giri

If you were to choose between Viswanathan Anand, Bobby Fischer or Magnus Carlsen whom would you pick?

I would choose Viswanathan Anand. He is the only Indian to have become a world champion till now. He inspires me so much.

Please tell us a bit about your practice schedule?

Before my exams I used to practice up to 5 hours daily. During the exams, I practiced only 2 hours, balancing chess with my exam studies. I was also enrolled in a chess academy a year ago. It was called: Matrix chess academy, located near my place in Malviya Nagar. Now I am doing self-study and practice at an individual level.  

Do you practice with the computer? Who wins?

A computer would win if I would play with a higher level computer. But I prefer to play with real people in online chess. I do practice with the computer but just to improve myself and not with the desire or ambition to beat it. Though I have defeated the computer sometimes.

How many rounds are there in a chess tournament? Please elaborate a little on its format.

There are a lot of players, some 50-60 players in offline tournaments. Most of them are students with FIDE (The International Chess federation) rating. FIDE rated tournaments have players from all over the nation. Usually, there are 5-7 rounds like in chess tournaments akin to tournaments in other sports.

I played in an online international tournament on October 11 this year.  It was organised by, a leading chess website. There were thousands of players participating in the tournament. I won 350 dollars and bagged the second position in the Under 2000 ELO rating category.

 I prefer Blitz chess when it comes to online chess. Ideally, I would like to surpass Viswanathan Anand and become the new ‘lightning kid.’ But it requires a lot of effort to become a Grandmaster. There are players I know, who have given the game a lifetime of dedication and still have not been able to achieve the title.

Do you have a FIDE ranking and an ELO rating?

Not yet. Actually I really want to play a FIDE rated tournament for that. But they are not happening in Delhi at the moment, owing to the pandemic.

Is it true that to play chess one must also practice physical fitness?

Yes, one really has to be fit physically. It is so, since sometimes the matches can go on from two to even six hours. So one must have a good stamina and concentration.

Which chess piece do you think is the strongest?

Generally people say that the queen is the strongest piece. But according to me, it is the Knight. It is my favourite piece. It is very tricky. No one knows what will happen in the game till there is a knight.

Which chess movies do you like the most?

I liked Pawn sacrifice.It was the biography of Bobby Fischer. I haven’t watched The Queen’s Gambit yet.

How does the school help you in pursuing your passion?

 The school has really supported me a lot. My teachers have always appreciated me whenever I have won any medal or prize. They have motivated me a lot.

What are your future targets?

I want to get a title. I aim to be a Grandmaster. But that would be too tough so at least a candidates master.  

Please tell us about some of your other interests?

I used to draw a lot of paintings till last year. But then I devoted my time completely to chess. I stopped painting. I still do play the keyboard though.  

Arijit Roy is a young correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. He has done his masters in English literature from Delhi University and has a book of poems published by Writers Workshop India. He can be reached at [email protected]