Hyderabadi Pentyala Harikrishna achieved the rare distinction of crossing the magical ELO 2700 mark, a dream of every chess player.
The 26-years-old ‘King of 64 squares’ has thus become the second Indian now after reigning world champion Viswanathan Anand to achieve the rare feat.
Earlier, Grandmaster Krishnan Sasikiran was the first person after Anand to join the elite club. But he does not figure in the latest ratings. “Till I crossed this huge barrier, I always thought it to be a very different proposition. But once I achieved it, somehow I have already set new goals like winning more titles,” the soft-spoken Harikrishna said on Saturday.
Hari, who won the World Under-10 Chess Championship in 1996, is widely tipped to be the potential world champion along with Koneru Humpy from Andhra Pradesh. “It is never easy to be one. You have to be consistent for a minimum of two years to chase this prestigious title. Right now, I am only thinking of winning more titles, and in the process inch closer to this,” he explains.
“Yes, the huge load of crossing the significant ELO 2700 is off my mind now. Even as this means bigger challenges ahead, I am aware that I have to keep improving, and all that I am looking for now is to cut down on the number of games I am losing from seemingly comfortable positions,” Harikrishna says.
“What is happening in my case is that I am losing 20 to 25 points in a major tournament because of inconsistency and then taking at least five more tournaments to recover that backlog,” he says about the problem even as he is leaving for Kolkata to train with his friend and Grandmaster Surya Sekhar Ganguly.
“Definitely, with more and more Grand Prix series lined up, I am hopeful of moving into the elite group and then think of the World Cup and the World Championship. My next big event is the Capablanca tournament, which features mostly players with ELO 2700-plus,” he explains.
And all that he is now looking forward to is a big exhibition match against a Super Grandmaster in India to get the much desired match practice. “There is no better experience than to be engaged in such a game - be it rapid, blitz or classical format,” Harikrishna says.
This article has been corrected for an editing error.