Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Parimarjan Negi is firmly on the path of consolidation after taking a leap into the big league. The world's youngest Grandmaster justified his fourth seeding in the `C' group of the prestigious Corus chess tournament at Wijk ann Zee in Holland on Sunday and provided another glimpse of his vast latent talent.

Returning to the Capital on the day it became official that his sponsor Tata Group had taken over Corus, Parimarjan reflected on the positives gained from the traditional season-opening event.

"First of all, playing in the same hall as the greats like (Viswanathan) Anand, (Veselin) Topalov and (Vladimir) Kramnik and others was an experience in itself. It was very inspiring. Meeting Anand Sir over dinner was truly memorable. He touched subjects other than chess and it was very nice," said Negi, who turns 14 in another nine days.

Decent performance

"Overall, my performance was quite decent (scoring 7.5 points from 13 rounds). I've maintained my rating so it is quite satisfying. I regret not scoring over Manuel Bosboom after getting a completely winning position and missing an easy draw against (third seed) Manuel Berg. But on the brighter side, comfortable draws against (winner and top seed) Michal Krasenkow and (runner-up and second seed) Ian Nepomniachtchi were very encouraging," Negi said.

Accompanied by Anand's former trainer Elizbar Ubilava, Negi won five games, drew five and lost three in the event where the top four seeds justified their rankings.

"I was particularly happy with my opening preparations that saw me coming out stronger into the middle game of most of the games. But still there are several areas I need to work on if I have to become better," said Negi.

Second visit

This was Negi's second visit to Wijk aan Zee. In 2005, as an untitled 12-year-old rated a modest 2316, Negi scored 5.5 points from 13 games.

Against his seeding of 12th, Negi finished eighth in a field with an average rating of 2422.

This year, Negi played to his rating of 2538 against an average opposition of 2486 points.

"Ubilava Sir was happy with the quality of my games. At the same time, he thought I could have scored one point more," revealed Negi who described his last-round victory over Chinese sensation Hou Yifan as "most satisfying." Negi, currently ranked 402 in the world, now aims to regain the 10 rating points he lost in the match against Ukraine's Kateryna Lahno in December, by playing in the nine-round Aeroflot Open in Moscow from February 13 to 23 before getting down to prepare for his school exams.

He has also been invited to play in a few other select round-robin events in Europe but the youngster is yet to take a decision.

Barring K. Sasikiran and P. Hari Krishna, Negi remains the only other player from India attracting lucrative offers from noted organisers around the world. Looking at his systematic preparation under some of the leading trainers in the game, Negi promises to make steady progress.

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