Negi, the wonder kid of Indian chess
In the final round of the Corus Chess Festival which concluded recently, it was another Indian, less than half of Anand’s age who garnered as much attention if not more…
It is difficult to imagine any other Indian chess player hogging the limelight when Viswanathan Anand is in action at the same time. However, in the final round of the Corus Chess Festival which concluded recently, it was another Indian, less than half of Anand’s age who garnered as much attention if not more.
Parimarjan Negi all of 14-years was matching paces with Anand (In Grandmaster Group ‘A’) and also fighting for the title in the Grandmaster Group ‘C’. It was indeed a wonderful sight for Indian chess to witness two players simultaneously fighting it out for titles under one roof in a prestigious event. Paimarjan could not win the game and the title but won every heart for his gutsy show which had him sharing the second spot.
Parimarjan was not the favourite nor the fancied as his rating placed him in the middle of the 14-player pack and a disastrous 0/2 start also did not help his cause. However, a string of victorious swelled the points tally, boosted the morale and most importantly brought back the smile to the cherubic face. The youngster had had two poor performances in the Commonwealth and the Asian Junior championships which were supposed to be practice events for Corus and there were many who wondered whether mentally he would be able to shrug off these results and move on with hardly any time to recover. But then talent triumphs under adverse circumstances and ‘Batu’, as he is known in the chess circuit, was once again beating the ‘best in the business’.
Though the title eluded him, the power packed performance was enough to garner a few precious ELO points and prove that the second youngest Grandmaster in the history of the game is undoubtedly the future face of chess.
Parimarjan was born in February 1993 to non chess playing parents Paridhi and J B Singh and learnt the basics of the game from his father’s friend DR Vinayaka Rao when he was barely five years old. It quickly became apparent that he was one whom Caissa decided to bestow her special favours when he became the world’s youngest International Master in 2005. Interestingly, all his norms were made overseas in tough tournaments. The medals in Age Categories continued to pour but becoming the second youngest GM at the tender age of 13 years, four months and 22 days made the world look on in astonishment at him. He even beat wonder kid Magnus Carlsen’s record as the youngest GM by a few days.
Parimarjan’s strength is his tactical ability and his understanding of the ending which many Indian stars consider phenomenal. In fact top Bangladeshi GM, Ziaur Rahman was all admiration for him in 2006 despite losing at the Parsvanath International tournament. “He is very impressive. I cannot believe that I was defending that endgame against a 12-year-old,” Rahman said. Anand after Corus 2008 was all praise for this youngster saying “It is just amazing the way he fought back.”
A class nine student of Amity International School, Delhi, Parimarjan practices five to six hours everyday and despite missing school for most part of the year he is a topper and also totally tuned in to academics. A voracious reader, he makes it a point to visit all the leading book stores of all the cities where he participates in tournaments. His parents, school and sponsors Tata Group and Air India have backed him to the hilt. His coaches G B Joshi, Ruslan Sherbakov, Evgeny Vladimirov and Vishal Sareen predict a rosy future for him. At this point comparisons with Anand are natural as he is fitting perfectly in the footsteps of the player whom he idolizes.
However, former world championship challenger Nigel Short who had a short coaching stint with him cautioned.
“Parimarjan is very talented but don’t make the mistake of comparing him with Anand for he is a genius while Parimarjan is still an unfinished product.”
True. But then the signs are unmistakable. Another Indian chess great is in the making!