Hyderabad: The State of Telangana so far has only two Grand Masters – Arjun Erigaisi and Harsha Bharatkoti. If everything goes according to the plan, another youngster P Rahul Srivatshav will join the elite list in a couple of months.
The 17-year-old has achieved his second GM norm a few days ago after finishing top in GM Round Robin Orbis-4 tournament in Serbia. The tournament had higher ranked Grand Masters like Delchev Aleksander, Kosic Dragan and Brenjo Slavisa. He played out draws against Dragan and Slavisa and defeated Delchev, which according to Rahul, was the turning point.
“Before entering the tournament, I didn’t think I would achieve the second GM norm. I was not in best of my form and wanted to regain it. But achieving the second GM norm and finishing top was very pleasing. I think defeating Delchev was the turning point in the tournament,” he said from The Netherlands, where will be competing in another two tournaments.
The intermediate second year student, who studies under National Institute of Open Schooling, now has 2,450 rating points and he hopes to attain 50 more points as early as possible. “My immediate goal is to achieve my third GM norm as soon as possible. May be in three months’ time I would do it. I have two more tournaments in Europe” he added.
But when asked about his dream, he reveals that he wants to take a break from chess to focus on his studies. “After the GM norm, I am considering taking a break. The career in chess is not easy. So I want to focus on my education for some time. I will go to US for higher studies and will come back to chess again.”
Rahul, who started playing chess as a hobby at the age of seven and started pursuing it seriously from nine, currently trains with The Netherland’s Grand Master Sipke Ernst. “When I started chess as a kid, I trained with coach Murali Krishna in Guntur. Then I came back to Hyderabad to train with coach Rama Raju at the RACE chess academy for three years. Later, I started training on my own and contacted Sipke,” he divulged.
Rahul had a great start to his career. He was two-time State champion in the under-9 and under-11 categories. He was runners-up and second runner-up at nationals in the under-11 and under-9 categories and represented Telangana at various nationals. He was also part of Indian team in six international events. He played thrice in Asia level youth championships held in Sri Lanka, Iran and Uzbekistan before participating in World Youth Championship in Slovenia, UAE and South Africa. He won bronze in Asian Youth in 2012 in Sri Lanka and a bronze in Commonwealth Chess in 2015 in New Delhi. He was also the member of Indian team at the World Youth Chess Olympiad held in Ahmedabad in 2017.
He trains about two hours daily online with coach and five hours on training online, doing assignments. However, participating in the international tournaments has become a burden financially and he feels that a sponsorship will do wonders for his dream. “Right now, I am getting scholarship from IOC. I don’t have any sponsors. So it is not so flexible financially to attend big event,” he rues.