My Tryst with Chess

Seven summers ago, I played in my first rated tournament. It was the Delhi State Open FIDE Rated tournament in 2010. I was just a year into the game and it was my first ever rated tournament experience. Previously, I had competed in a few tournaments, but none of them were of this stature. I was excited, yet at the same time I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect from a tournament of this kind. I knew that I would be competing against strong players and I was up for the challenge. I think that it was from this tournament that I got to learn more deeply about the game on the international and national circuits. This tournament was an experience to remember and cherish as it was filled with many exciting moments for me.
Starting with the very first game, I got to play against an extremely strong player for my level. He was a 1800 ELO rated player and I was just an unrated player without any prior experience. Nevertheless, the game lasted for more than three hours and I was extremely happy with my performance. Though I lost the first round, I was excited to play the next match. In those days, the rules to get a rating were different. One had to play against a minimum of three rated players and score at least a point to make the tournament count. One had to get a total of 3 points to get a rating, playing against nine different opponents. With these rules in my mind, I was excited to compete further. The second round was on the second day of the event. It was in the afternoon, so I had to go to school in the morning. During school all that I was thinking about was just the tournament and my second round match against another strong rated player, who was also the son of a prominent Delhi coach. As soon as the time arrived, I packed my bags and set off for the tournament hall with my mother. We reached there on time and I sat down on my board. I felt a sense of joy as I sat down on the board. I didn’t know what was happening to me. I had never felt more energetic and enthusiastic in my life ever before. I had a crazy feeling that I would somehow win the match. The clock struck three and my game started. My opponent took me for granted. He kept on moving around the hall after each of his move. He thought that I was just a mere beginner. However, I felt that I should just be focusing on my game. I tried to concentrate on the board and bring all my energy together. I wanted to win badly and I knew that I could. I played slower than ever and my opponent got agitated and kept on making blunders. I kept on taking advantage of his moves. In the meanwhile, my mother, who was waiting outside the hall for me, was extremely hassled as she hadn’t expected such a long match. In fact, she was supposed to take me for a book launch by the famous Justice Leila Seith for which I was personally invited by my former school principal. Despite all of this, I felt that winning was most important. I decided to forget about all these thoughts and just focus on my game. After about two and a half hours, I came on top and won the game. It was the biggest achievement in my life. I had defeated my first rated opponent ever. I had also opened my partial rating. More than anything else, I learnt that underestimating your opponents never does any good to you. In fact, more than 90% of the times, it makes you lose. I was over the moon, but I had to go for the book launch, so I had to leave the tournament hall as soon as the match got over and the score sheets got signed. I reached the book launch on time and thought about the tournament during the entire event. There was another round scheduled that day and I knew that I had to go back somehow. Ultimately, it was my school coach who called up my mother and told her to make me play as I was playing against another rated player. We rushed back to the venue in record time. ( from the India International Centre in New Delhi to the Amity School, Saket, New Delhi during the peak traffic time) As soon as I reached, the matches had already begun. I reached my board and I bet that you won’t be able to guess as to who I was playing. It was none other than GM Akshat Chandra, who at that time was a 1500 elo rated player. He waited for me to come and play my move. He even allowed me to play my first move and take a few minutes to calm down as I had come in a rush. The match obviously ended in his favour, but I can never forget his gesture. Even today, I respect him for his kindness and wish that he becomes a super grandmaster soon.
This day taught me some extremely valuable lessons in life. It has been the most exciting day in my chess career, and I can never forget the events that happened on this day. This will always stay in my heart, and I think it made my chess career even more fruitful.

P.S.- The tournament finished well for me. I managed to score another win against a rated player and played some interesting positions. It was a stepping stone to my career in chess.

Note- I won the second prize for this essay from Chessbase India. The competition was called the ten tales contest and I received a Chessbase DVD on Magnus Carlsen as a prize.
Here's the link to the announcement-


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