Former World junior chess champion Pentyala Harikrishna says the recent Asian men's gold in Iran was just the motivation he was looking for, while he pursues his ultimate dream of becoming World champion.

“I always look at any event as a sort of preparation for the bigger events. In this context, the Asian title ahead of the World Open championship in the US from June 28 (where he was joint second in the last edition), is a very significant win for me,” said Harikrishna in an exclusive chat withThe Hindubefore leaving for the US tour, which also includes the Chicago Open and the New York Open, preceding the World Open event.

“It is still a long way to go, to become a world champion. But, given the fact that there will be at least 50 GMs taking part in the World Open, it should be strong enough to test my preparations even for next year's World Cup for which I qualified by virtue of winning the Asian title.

“It was also a very special title considering that my fellow State-mate Dronavalli Harika clinched the honours in the women's section to ensure a golden double for India,” he said.

Both Harikrishna and Sundararajan Kidambi from India have confirmed their participation in the World Open.

“It is always important to keep improving in any sport; and chess is no different. Obviously, I will be trying to focus on becoming a better player in middle-game,” he said.

“It is always better to stay in Europe for four to five months every year to compete on the tough circuit and the inter-club championships there. You become a much improved player after each season. But for that you need to get the desired support on different fronts,” he said.

“Definitely, one of the immediate goals is to cross the Elo 2700 mark (his present rating is 2666). That itself is a huge barrier and automatically puts you on a different plane,” said Harikrishna, who was in Hyderabad for about a week after the Asian title to spend time with his parents and sister before embarking on another important tour.

“This US tour should give me a feel of what level I have to reach to be the world champion,” he said with a big smile.

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