#NewsBytesExclusive: India's 64th GM Prithu Gupta on his chess journey
15-year-old Prithu Gupta is enigmatic, intelligent and mature. The promising teenager became India's 64th Grandmaster after crossing the Elo threshold of 2,500 points. Gupta beat IM Lev Yankelevich in the fifth round of the Portuguese League 2019. NewsBytes caught up with the new chess sensation. From his journey to who inspires him, Prithu opened up on a number of aspects of his life.
Prithu is the sixth Indian to become a Grandmaster in 2019. The kid from Delhi achieved the sensational feat at the age of 15 years, four months and 10 days. Although, it has not been an easy journey. Prithu endured a lot to get to this position. One needs to laud his mental strength and determination to rise up the ranks.
Things haven't been smooth for Prithu. "It has been a pretty interesting and turbulent journey at the same time. I managed to get good results for the first five years, till the time I became an IM and got two GM norms (2,460 points). From there on, I faced many difficulties to get that elusive third norm and the 40 rating points."
"I am in Grade 10 right now. I was managing a strong balance up till Grade 8. The following year, I was pursuing my Grandmaster title and also had health issues." He added, "I was also bed-ridden for two months. I couldn't touch my books or play chess. I received a lot of help from the school principal on the academic front," said Prithu.
Prithu doesn't want to get carried away after joining the list of India's Grandmasters. "It feels great. Any kid who starts to play at a young age aspires to be a Grandmaster. It requires a lot of effort. I am ecstatic that my efforts paid off. It is important for me to be level-headed and not get carried away by the success," said Prithu.
After Prithu's success, chess legend Viswanathan Anand was quick to congratulate him. Anand has been Prithu's source of inspiration just like every budding chess player in India. "Whenever someone takes chess, the first name he/she thinks of is Viswanathan Anand sir. He continues to inspire everyone, including senior players. Everyone can look up to him and learn something," said the elated teenager.
And we are complete. 64 th GM !!— Viswanathan Anand (@vishy64theking) July 19, 2019
Welcome our newest GM Prithu Gupta !
Indian chess fraternity is enjoying an exciting phase with many kids doing wonders. Prithu felt, "As far the phase is concerned, good chess events and training sessions have been crucial. Hence, it's pretty natural that a country like India is experiencing a chess boom."
Prithu said that he is planning to focus on his academics at the moment. "I am studying Grade 10 and I don't want to really let go off academics. It leaves me with no option but to limit the number of tournaments in 2019 and the first quarter of 2020." Prithu will participate in more tourneys once his board exams get over.
"I had six events and three of them went along as I wanted them to go. I also achieved norms in two. My performance, in general, started to deteriorate from October 2018 to June 2019. Although the ratings improved, it wasn't at the pace as I expected. I was barely improving a couple of points here and there," said Prithu about takeaways from 2018.
Prithu has been trained by coach Roktim Bandyopadhyay. Speaking on Roktim's inputs, he said, "He has helped me a lot. He has always given me a lot of motivation when I was experiencing a low in my career. I even thought of giving up chess. But, he got back my love for the game. It shows how dedicated a coach he is."
Spanish is a language which Prithu is passionate about. Talking about the same, the 15-year-old Prithu said, "I have actually been learning Spanish as a third language in school since I was in Grade 6. It has been a while now. Right now, I have Spanish as my second language, along with English, since Grade 9. I enjoy studying the subject."
Prithu doesn't follow a lot of sports but listed out his hobbies. "To be honest, I don't really follow a lot of other sports. In fact, the last time I did watch something was about 3-4 years ago. I have other hobbies though, like listening to music, watching films and series. Basically, I use the entertainment industry as a source of recreation," he stated.
On taking up chess and thinking to make it a profession, Prithu said, "I had my initial successes very early. I got to the level of IM and scored my personal GM norms barely within five years since taking up the game. That was probably the time I realized that I would work a lot on chess and take it as a profession someday."
"Now that I had a bad tournament after working so hard, I realized probably this is a game for the brave. I am not saying that I'm not psychologically brave, but for now, I want to explore another segment of life, rather than just devoting all my time to chess. I am not ready to commit to anything particular," he added.
The promising chess player had a message for all the budding players. He said, "I would probably ask them to work hard and keep a specific goal in mind. Without it one may lack the motivation. Also, one shouldn't think of just results."