Teenage chess prodigy hopes to turn Grandmaster this year

March 14th, 2009 - 12:01 pm ICT by IANS  

By T.S.V. Hari
Chennai, March 14 (IANS) After a good outing in three international meets in Sri Lanka, India’s teenage chess prodigy N. Srinath is aiming to become a Grandmaster (GM) by the end of the year.

The 14-year-old Srinath, who is one of the youngest International Masters in the country, is a former under-12 world champion. He was also the youngest to win the World Youth Chess Championship in France in 2005 and went on to win the Asian Youth Chess Championship the same year. In his recent tour of Sri Lanka, he was declared joint winner in two meets and second in a third.

The teenager said that the Sri Lanka tour was “tiresome but rewarding”. But it has given him immense confidence to become a Grandmaster by this year.

“My game is improving and I hope to turn GM before the end of 2009,” Srinath told IANS in an interview.

Srinath, who sees a role model in Viswanathan Anand, went on to add: “I have decided that chess will be my career and am preparing to be a GM first. I will pass my school finals with some three months’ preparation in 2010. I need to concentrate much more on my game to reach the heights achieved by my idol Anand.”

On the Sri Lanka tour he said: “I won in Colombo’s three-nation meet beating the top seed from India R.R. Lakshman in the last week of February. A few days later at Kegalle, I came second. And in Kandy, Sunday, I was declared joint first but ranked fourth behind compatriot Dinesh Sharma and two Sri Lankans due to a strange rating system.”

Before leaving for Sri Lanka, Srinath faced a setback as his sponsor backed out and his father C. Narayanan couldn’t accompany him.

Narayanan said: “I always accompany Srinath on all his tours as his aide and personal cook as he is choosy about his vegetarian fare. The sudden cancellation of our sponsorship resulted in his going alone. Bland food and poor accommodation worsened the physical and mental fatigue.”

Srinath, who picked up the game at the age of six, said that age is not a factor for chess players.

“Anand has proved that the World Championship can be won at 38 - breaking the earlier belief that age dulls the brain’s reflexes. Physical fitness, however, is a must for every victory as mental agility goes hand in hand with it.”

Srinath is always in touch with his idol Anand to learn the nuances of the game.

“We felt that Srinath’s verbal interaction to understand the game’s nuances was more important. Past greats like Manuel Aaron and Anand himself have gone on record saying that Srinath is treading in their path,” Narayanan said.

(T.S.V. Hari can be contacted at tsv.hari@ians.in)

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