Over the last few years chess has emerged as a popular sport among the youngsters in the state with many Odia players winning accolades nationally and internationally. Not far behind is a 9-year old girl from Bhubaneswar, Arushi Srichandan who created a flutter after she won two gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals in the U-9 category at the recently concluded 14th Asian School Chess Championships in Waskaduwa, Sri Lanka. Despite her debut appearance at an Asian meet, she didn’t show any nerves during the tournament and gave her best results so far. In an exclusive interview with our sub-editor Subhojit Panda, the chess prodigy speaks about her love for chess, the experience of playing her first Asian tournament, future plans and more. Excerpts follow-
Congratulations on your success! How did you feel after winning the historic five medals for the country?
Unbelievable! The tournament was very special for me in many ways more than one. I had qualified for the tournament after my top-3 finish in the National School Chess Championships held at KIIT, Bhubaneswar in January this year. Winning five medals for the state and country was indeed a proud moment for me. Being my first Asian tournament, I wasn’t thinking much about the results. My only aim was to give the best efforts. There was a tough competition in the tournament.
How did you prepare for the tournament?
Interestingly, I did not get much time to prepare because I had just returned from the Commonwealth Chess Championships held in New Delhi a day before leaving for the tournament. (Laughs) I believe my consistency and firm determination did all the wonders at the tournament.
What are the key takeaways from the tournament?
More than the achievement, playing at such a prestigious tournament was a learning experience for me. There were over 454 talented and experienced players fromacross 16Asian countries who took part in 12 different age group categories. I got to know about their style of playing, strategy, tricks and techniques. This would certainly help my game in the future.
How were you drawn towards chess?
My father used to play chess during his college days. My mother also fancied dreams of making me a chess player one day. She used to cite examples of Odia female chess players and their achievements and inspired me to take up chess. So my father got me enrolled at SR Chess Centre in Sahid Nagar in 2015. Thereafter I got trained by one of the finest chess coaches of Odisha SatyaRanjanPatnaik sir. Since then I have never looked back.
What is it about chess that you like the most?
I love everything about chess. The sport has not just given recognition but has helped me a lot mentally. It has improved my concentration levels and keeps me calm and composed. Chess has also played a vital role in improving my studies especially maths.
Who are your favourite chess players?
I am a huge admirer ofDebasis Das, Padmini Rout and Saina Salonika. They are really good chess players and have made our state and country proud before. I want to emulate their success in the future.
Apart from chess, what are your other hobbies?
I love playing cricket, badminton andwatching TV.
What are your future plans?
Currently I am gearing up for the under-11 National Chess Championships in Tamil Nadu. Though I have less time to prepare for the tournament, I am confident of putting up a good show there. Further, I am aiming to achieve the grandmaster norm in chess soon. I also want to become the World Chess Champion one day.
Who would you like to thank for the success?
I would like to thank my parents, Ajit Kumar Srichandan and ShipraSrichandan who have always stood by me. My coaches SatyaRanjanPatnaik, SatyajitPatnaik and Manoj Kumar Panigrahi have always supported and guided me well. Heartfelt thanks to my school, DAV Public School Chandrasekharpur especially my class teacher ItishreeMohanty for the encouragement!
Any final message….?
Always work hard and give your best efforts if you want to achieve your goals!