CHAT The country’s leading Grand Master Parimarjan Negi narrates how chess helped him build his personality
“When I was 13, it was all about chess. Had I stayed that way, I would have achieved a lot more in the game. Since the year I became a Grand Master, there have been a string of disappointments. Six months before I got my title, I gained some 150 (international rating) points. It took me seven years to get the next 150 points. Other than those six months from the end of 2005 to 2006, my career has generally been disappointing for me.” These words come from the second youngest Grand Master that chess has ever seen.
Parimarjan Negi is hard on himself but raves about his competitors. He has some praiseworthy achievements, yet, he prefers to look for his drawbacks, raising the bar, pursuing a punishing goal. He trains hard, both over the chess board and in the gym.
Now, Parimarjan has emerged the most welcome Indian face after Anand, in the chess world. Looking back at his journey, Parimarjan says, “I almost did not know any International Master in Delhi and had not seen many Grand Masters play. The whole idea of getting the titles was pretty much alien to me. My parents helped me a lot in that area. By myself, I wouldn’t work so hard on my chess. Chess was a fun thing to play, but the training part, is a lot less interesting.”
During his early years, there was no television at home for this youngster. He would train hard and perform beyond expectations. Parimajan is a voracious reader, and interest in various subjects has widened his range of reading. “I gained interest in reading when I was about 12. Since then I have read books on quite a few subjects. I must admit, I started reading pretty late. I remember reading my first book from the Harry Potter series. Then, I moved to reading fiction. At 14 or 15, I turned to science fiction and read everything I could lay my hands on — random books meant for the layman on quantum mechanics, relativity, etc. In the last few years, I ‘discovered’ Indian authors such as Vikram Seth and Arundhati Roy,” says the Delhi boy.
Dealing with attention
For someone who became a celebrity in chess circles, Parimarjan took time to deal with all the attention. “At school, I always felt awkward; I knew I was being treated differently. I remember going to chess tournaments and signing autographs and posing for photographs. Somehow, I never felt comfortable doing that. At that point in time, I did not realise these events were actually helping me build my personality and develop as a person.”
That’s not to take away from what the game itself taught him. “One good thing about chess is that it teaches you how to deal with defeats. But over the years, after I started playing with higher stakes, the feelings have got much more intense. I got better without realising how hard it was,” says this former Asian and National champion.
One good thing about chess is that it teaches you how to deal with defeats and disappointments. I got better without realising how hard it was