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"Chess over studies" — How quitting college took Arjun Erigiasi to Indian Olympiad team

GM Arjun Erigiasi speaks to The Bridge about his journey to the top and the upcoming Chess Olympiad.

Arjun Erigiasi Tata Steel Chess Rapid

Arjun Erigiasi (Source: Firstpost)


Abhijit Nair

Updated: 7 Jun 2022 6:42 AM GMT

Chess Grandmaster (GM), Arjun Erigiasi shot to fame last year with his solid display at the 2021 Tata Steel Chess in Kolkata. The Telangana lad has since gone strength to strength and is rated 2675 currently.

Erigiasi attributes his rise in the chess world to his decision to drop out of college and shift his focus entirely to the age-old strategy game.

"I was pursuing Data Science as recently as December 2021. I was very keen on going to college and having my share of fun. But a series of bad performances over the board made me realise that it is simply not possible for me to balance both chess and studies," Arjun tells The Bridge.

"I think this decision has certainly helped me improve my game. I can clearly feel the difference in the way I was playing in 2021 and this year. The results show for themselves as well," he smiles.

Arjun, on Monday, clinched the 2022 Junior Speed Chess Championships title beating compatriot and the speed monster Nihal Sarin. By the virtue of this win, he has made his way into the main round of the Speed Chess Championships.

"I had to win, I had no option," he tweeted after the win.

Winning was always the only thing in Arjun's mind, even when he took up chess as an eight-year-old.

"I was quite a naughty and mischievous kid. Hence my parents forced me into various kinds of sports. I tried my hands at skating, swimming, but was never good at anything. Chess is something I was a bit better at and it just drew me in," said Arjun, who spends quite a bit of his time watching football.

With the 44th Chess Olympiad around the corner where he would play in the India A team, Arjun is currently on lookout for a small break.

"We had a 10-day camp in Chennai recently. It was refreshing to train under the likes of Gelfand and Anand. I will soon take a break from competitive chess ahead of the Olympiad and focus solely on training. I think it is much needed for me to have a break now to be able to give my best when the team needs me during the Olympiad," he states.

The 18-year-old has just one aim right now – to break the 2700 rating barrier as soon as possible.

"The focus is to do well in the Olympiad, but the immediate goal is to cross the 2700 rating margin as soon as possible. That's something I have been working on since a long time and it would be surreal to achieve that."

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