Tamil Nadu found its latest torch bearers to carry the state’s rich chess legacy forward. Following their performance in the World Youth Olympiad in Hungary, 15-year-olds Aravindh Chithambaram and Karthikeyan Murali became the youngest Grandmasters (GM) from the state. The state has now 13 GMs, starting with five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand.
Prior to the tournament, Karthikeyan and Aravind enjoyed Elo ratings of 2476 and 2497 respectively. In Gyor, they reached 2500 – the required rating to become a GM. Anand was prompt to applaud and tweeted: “Congrats Aravindh Chidhambaram. Welcome to the GM club. He has scalped a few big names. Look forward to meeting you in Chennai. Proud!” The duo’s performance in Hungary helped India defend their gold in the tournament. In the 54-team field, countries like Canada, Poland, Slovekia, Korea, Israel, South Africa and Poland and hosts Hungary fielded multiple teams. The Indian team -comprising Diptayan Ghosh, Karthikeyan, Aravindh, Kumaran Balaji and Monnisha GK -beat Iran and Turkey in the last round to clinch the title.
Karthikeyan’s father Murali, an assistant engineer with the Tamil Nadu state electricity board, was at work and could not follow his son’s game online on Sunday. “It is a huge accomplishment. Karthikeyan was part of last year’s Olympiad-winning team as well. I missed watching him play though,” he told TOI.
Aravindh, on the other hand, lost his father when he was three and it was his mother Deivama who raised him. She was on back-to-back client visits and had no access to internet to follow her son’s performance in Hungary. “It was my relatives who broke the news to me. It’s tough to put my joy to words. There have been times when I’ve wondered how I would be able to support my son’s dream,” Deivama, who lives in Madurai, said.
She spoke about her son’s love for the game that kept him going. “He just never gave up. It gave me courage that we could battle it out,” she said.
India’s first International Master Manuel Aaron though looked at the larger picture. “It’s heartwarming to realise that India’s clout in the sport will probably not end with a certain Viswanathan Anand,” Aaron said.