“Who is this boy that won that Open GM tournament?” enquired Ulrich Stock, a veteran German journalist, shortly before the closing ceremony of the World chess championship in Chennai a couple of days ago. “I would like to contact him.”
The boy Stock was talking about is Aravindh Chithambaram. He is just 14 and is the most exciting prospect.
Though India has been producing Grandmasters (GMs) with remarkable regularity, none in recent times have raised hopes of becoming something more than a GM. Aravindh, who won the Chennai Open tournament with an incredible performance, seems to be special.
He was seeded 53rd, he beat four GMs and romped home by a clear half-a-point margin.
And it was a pretty strong event, featuring 21 GMs and 30 International Masters (IMs). His performance rating was a phenomenal 2728 (against his Elo rating of 2335). He also became the youngest Indian to win a GM tournament.
He also scored his maiden GM norm from the event. The fact is he has not have even got a single IM norm.
“I think this boy is a serious talent,” says Jacek Stopa, the Polish IM who played in the Chennai Open. “I was impressed by some of his games.”
His coach R.B. Ramesh says he could be a GM in six months, if he gets opportunities. “He needs to play in good tournaments abroad often, but he will require financial assistance for that,” he says.
“He comes from a poor family and his father died when he was three. It is because of his sheer natural talent that he is succeeding.”
Ramesh adds he was convinced of his abilities as soon as he started training him two years ago.
“He has a strong middle game, defends well and is good at ending,” he says. “But he has to work harder on his openings.”
Aravindh, who recently moved to Chennai from Madurai for the sake of his chess, had made headlines earlier when he won the National under-19 championship when he was just 12.
He is also a silver-medalist from the World under-14 championship last year.
“I never expected to win the Chennai Open,” says Aravindh, a Standard IX student of Velammal MMHSS, Chennai. “I would have been just happy with a norm.”