Lockdown: Teen chess wizards keep composure; stay busy with online events

By: PTI |

Published: April 7, 2020 2:04:20 pm

R Praggnanandhaa is busy training and playing online events (Source: ANI Twitter)

Young they might be but restless? Certainly not.

R Praggnanandhaa, D Gukesh and P Iniyan — the teen brigade of Indian chess is unfazed about being confined to home due to the national lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus, which has claimed more than 100 lives in India.

Instead, they are looking to make optimum use of the time available and work on their games.

Praggu, as he is known in chess circles, is busy training and playing online events while spending time with family and also catching up on some television.

“For a chess player, this situation (lockdown) doesn’t make much of a difference. Chess is a sport which can be followed and played from anywhere in the world,” the 14-year old told PTI.

“We, anyway train using computers now. I am working on my game and also getting online coaching,” he added.

He is training online with his coach RB Ramesh, who runs the famed ‘Chess Gurukul’ in the city.

His sister, woman International Master R Vaishali, who is a winner of the world under-12 and 14 titles, ensures he has a training partner too.

“I train and play with my sister regularly and this keeps me engaged,” Praggnanandhaa said.

The Chennai-lad, who last year won the world under-18 title in Mumbai, said he is also spending time with his family and relaxes by watching television, though there are no favourite movies.

“Apart from training, I spend time chatting with my parents and sister. I watch films and enjoy (actor) Vadivelu’s comedy,” he added.

Gukesh, the world’s second youngest Grandmaster, who enjoyed a good start to the year by winning the Hillerod Chess Club Open in Denmark and the prestigious Cannes Open, said he is missing tournament action but using the break to improve his game.

“Missing tournament play for sure…but I am doing usual routines like working on my chess by reading books and analysing. I am also regularly playing online chess,” he said.

That apart, the 13-year-old unwinds by watching movies and also playing fun games with family members.

Gukesh said he used to play a lot of tournaments but is prepared to wait as the world battles the dreaded coronavirus.

“…I am used to playing two tournaments almost every month for the last two years. Now just waiting for things to settle down hopefully soon…and then have to plan accordingly as all the major tournaments have either been cancelled or postponed.

“I will have to reschedule as and when situation permits. Lives of people are more important at this point of time,” he added.

Meanwhile, 17-year old Iniyan, who became a GM in 2019, feels the unexpected break will help him improve his game.

“The break was unexpected and tournaments have been cancelled. I am looking to use the time to train and also work on various aspects of the game.

“For chess players, who are used to working alone and with computers, the lockdown doesn’t make much of a difference as we will continue to train,” he said.

Iniyan, who hails from Erode in western Tamil Nadu, is hoping that tournaments will resume soon, but said lives were more important as the world tackles the coronavirus pandemic.

“Human lives are paramount. We have to stay home and support the fight against coronavirus. As much as I would like to play tournaments, that is not a priority now,” he added.

Iniyan’s father K Paneerselvam said chess being an indoor sport training is not an issue as he is occupied with online coaching and events.

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