Chess to take backseat as Parimarjan Negi set to leave for Stanford

PTI| Last Updated: Aug 22, 2014, 15:31 PM IST

New Delhi: He played a stellar role in India`s bronze winning effort in the recently concluded Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway but GM Parimarjan Negi feels that there`s more to life than just `64 squares` as he gets ready for a new innings which will require the same effort or even more from the immensely talented young man.

The 21 year old, who has got a chance to pursue an undergraduate (UG) programme at prestigious Stanford University will be leaving for the US in September and in the next four years won`t be very active in the circuit.

"Well, chess will take a backseat for the time being. I will have to concentrate on my UG programme. I passed my plus two examination three years back. Then I didn`t enroll myself in any college although I could have got through on sports quota. I wanted to crack into top-100 and decided to concentrate on chess. Now I am in top 80 and I feel there`s a time for everything. Now academics will be my priority," Negi told PTI in an interview on the sidelines of a felicitation function.

Asked was it a conscious decision to put Chess on backseat, Negi gave a very practical reply.

"Look, to lead a luxurious life while playing chess is only possible when you can break into top-10. Vishy (Viswanathan Anand) was in top-10 by the time he was 20. Then he took a risk by shifting his base (Spain). But chess is a cerebral game where people are now leaving the sport by 35. No longer can you be in top rung in your 40s and 50s.

"I still want to be in top 50 but also needed a serious back up career option. I took the SAT examination and scored 2100 plus in a possible score 2400. I had to write an essay which I needed two months to prepare. For me Chess will remain but I will play fewer tournaments," said Negi, who held World No 3 Levon Aronian of Armenia on top board.

"Nowadays, chess is all about preparing on different openings. It takes a toll on your mind and body. Once I knew I was leaving for Stanford, I slowed my game and returned to conventional openings. Now my plan is to play some tournaments in the US, like one in Las Vegas in December which is a three-day affair," said Negi, who will be quitting his job with Bharat Petroleum.

But the youngster wants to play in team tournaments for India and would ideally like All India Chess Federation to change its existing rule of playing National Championship in order to qualify for Indian team.

Quiz him about Chess Olympiad success, the eloquent Negi said,"I would never like to quantify my success but this bronze will certainly be one of the highpoints of my career. We had excellent teamwork and covered for each other."

"Someone like Sethuraman was brilliant. The four Indian GMs were playing side by side and we could see each other`s boards. Think about it. Earlier Indian teams for Olympiads had Vishy in them but this is the first time we had won bronze."

When asked why he has never thought about being among team of Seconds for Anand during latter`s World Championship matches, he said.

"I never found being a Second as an appealing assignment. Also you are working for 12 to 13 hours on Openings and its not for your benefit. I think it would not improve my game," Negi signed off.