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BOLD AND ARTICULATE:National chess champion Parimarjan Negi has not only let his performances do the talking but, when asked, also voiced his views.
NEW DELHI: National chess champion Parimarjan Negi belongs to a rare breed. Much like Viswanathan Anand during his teen years, the 18-year-old Grandmaster has not only let his performances do the talking but, when asked, also voiced his views.
Being articulate is an asset to any performer. However, in Indian chess, a vast majority of performing players over the years have believed in the idiom ‘Silence is Golden.' In fact, most have perished without ever expressing their views on any subject, even when sought.
Like Anand, young Parimarjan, too, is different. He speaks and speaks well on issues concerning chess and beyond. Ask the youngster – with an international rating of 2622 and ranked sixth in the country – to assess his journey so far and he comes up with a candid response, “I have been lucky enough to have many good results during the last few years but I think a proper career in chess truly starts beyond the rating of 2700. I think I still have a fair chance to make a satisfying career out of chess.”
Recently, Parimarjan top-scored in the Class XII Board exams in psychology with a ‘Perfect-100' on his way to securing 90 per cent aggregate – an astounding effort given the limited time he gets to study.
Now planning to take a one-year ‘break' from academics to concentrate on scaling greater heights in chess, Parimarjan is ready to face his first severe test, at home, in the AAI International Grandmasters tournament – a unique double round-robin event.
In the six-player field, Parimarjan is ranked behind Fabiano Caruana (Italy), Viktor Laznicka (Czech Republic), K. Sasikiran and So Wesley (Philippines) – all four from the World rankings' top-100 list – and finds himself just ahead of the Women World champion Hou Yifan (China).
“It's definitely a strong and interesting event, considering that many of the players are still very young and trying to reach higher rating levels. I think the younger participants add more interest. Since anyway the elite events aren't that regular, these events are at the centre of international attention in the chess community,” says Parimarjan.
On the total lack of quality round-robin events in the country, Parimarjan makes a firm statement, “Other than the obvious requirement of corporate sponsorship, there is a need for more than just a couple of organisers interested and/or capable of holding such events in the country.
“I remember watching the last category-event in India (in Pune) when I was just 11, but that event clearly didn't serve as much of a catalyst. This is the first time since then that such an event has even been planned. Of course, if this event can be held successfully and sufficient interest can be generated around it, positive changes can be expected.”
Suggesting steps aimed at benefitting the creamy layer of Indian chess that has suffered due to lack of strong all-play-all tournaments at home, the 18-year-old says, “I think generating more corporate interest through better presentation and proper organisational settings and networks would be an important starting point.
“And while it is true that chess isn't a great spectator sport, there are other positive aspects which can be focused on while trying to market the game. Right now, the current patronage is due to some personal interest of the sponsor etc., and only limited to a few cities.”
For now, Parimarjan and Sasikiran have the responsibility of letting their performances speak for the game. The corporate sector is obviously watching them.
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