Kumar Gaurav, the current junior national chess champion is hitting all the right notes. He started off as the 42nd seed and went on to win the Indian Junior Chess Championship that concluded in Andhra Pradesh a couple of months back.
The teenager, who hails from a lower middle-class family, lives in a small town in Bihar and he along with his two other siblings wish to pursue their dream of leading a better life with chess. His siblings are well-acquainted with the game too. His younger brother, Saurabh Anand, won the National under-9 title.
But unlike others, they aren’t much-privileged kids. He muses, “Our father is an Advocate in Araria Court (a village in Bihar). He earns with varying frequency, but the income is low. In that, we have to manage the house expenses, and also the expense for chess.”
India has a phenomenal list of players churning out over the years. The emergence of prodigious chess players such as Dibyendu Barua and Viswanathan Anand saw India becoming a major chess power. Anand’s exploits at the big stage have inspired a whole generation of young Indian chess players to aspire for success at the highest level. With the emergence of a host of talented newcomers, India no longer needs to look up to the inimitable Viswanathan Anand alone, for international glory. Amidst players like Harikrishna, Koneru Humpy and Harika Dronavalli calling the shots in international chess, the picture indeed looks rosy for Indian chess.
Kumar who won the Parsvnath Open (Category-C) tournament, went to Slovenia in 2012, for the World Youth Championship after his father had mortgaged their house. He says, “Sometimes, we have to borrow money to play tournaments, and we mortgage the house to assure the lenders.” He came back to the country without a medal but at the same time with a much-improved game plan.
The sibling’s economic conditions refrain them from training in Delhi but that in no way demoralizes them. They coordinate with their mentor IM Vishal Sareen over the Internet. Sareen says, “I think they learned chess in 2007 but the boys came to me only two years back. I have never worked with them on the table due to the distance. We tried to shift them to Delhi, but that was impossible considering the expenditure. We had to do everything online.” The siblings have traveled on unreserved tickets too.
Kumar’s mentor has high hopes from him and so do we. This National title will obviously provide him the thrust and help him achieve higher laurels for the country. This teenager needs support and not mental stress that there is no money, back home. And we indeed have a Grandmaster in the making.