“All the world is a stage” – William Shakespeare
Squares… More than just shapes
14 September 2012
What a hectic week it has been… I had promised Swe for posting the third edition on Wednesday. It is Friday today and Persona post is not yet ready (actually no yet started).
Athirai… ECE… final year… National level chess player…
Somehow I got to know of her and she’s actually free the second period today, and so was I. I could not wait to miss this meeting.
The first period was Hydraulics and Pneumatics and I was drawing one square in another in the pneumatic cascade circuit and wondered how my friend could master drawing perfect squares of even side 5mm.
L12… Present Saar! (as usual)…
“It’s Sir People! S.I.R. Sir! How many times have I told you.”
Chuck… Some things never change. It’s 10.10.
Hello Athirai, Gowtham Here!
Yes Gowtham. Give me five minutes, waiting for a signature.
Sure, I’ll be there near the Post Office.
Fine! Meet you there.
I didin’t know how she looked. All I knew about her was her name, that she never came to classes and only how she sounded. I was gazing the ground, enraptured by the new green grass in front of the new building, before a voice startled me.
Yes. Athirai? And… (There were two)
Nandhini, My friend.
Hello both. Shall we settle in this classroom for a small chat?
Sure but keep it short. Nandhini exclaimed.
Difficult but I’ll try.
I quickly settled down with a chess board to her surprise. I challenge you for a game. I’ll take black.
Before that tell me why is Athirai into chess? I reframe Chess in Athirai…
I remember to have started chess since a toddler. Unlike other classmates, I fancied the Lilliput army to be more lovable than the Barbie dolls. Actually I detested the latter and still detest the same. The very first day I moved the chess piece kept on the table, my parents had discovered something really great, happier than when they heard me call them Amma or Appa. Dad was a player and he used to take me along to all his matches. That’s when the grid of 64 squares hypnotized me and has been my platter of expression, joy, friend, and everything from then on. I’ve still preserved that big board (comparatively then) double my hand span and I almost toppled my own army to make a careful drag against the opposition. The day before my first tournament (fourth standard), dad told me that I was his GM and I needed to prove it to the world outside. Thus began my tryst with the mental snack.
Wonderful… Your move first miss White… The game went with the pawns as usual and within four moves I had slayed one of her soldiers. HA HA.
So you went for some Coaching or something?
I’m from Dindigul basically and my parents wanted me not to be just a player but a pro player. The mystic force in the board dragged me to the Mark Dvortsky Chess Coaching Centre, Madurai. A one and half journey 60 km away from my house in a rusted rickety bus. With all the awe and a bit of nervousness, I entered to meet my most supportive Guru, Coach Ghouse Khamardeen, a national player himself. I felt myself so very a winner on getting his name correct at the first stroke. Hurrah! What could be more awesome to a chess-maniac when it was all chess around, boards, commuters, software, books, matches, opponents, friends and a strong guiding light? Days were literally bumping from Dindigul to Madurai.
There I’ve actually lost four of mine with her single warrior play and there one more goes.
My first victory was in class 8 when I finished runner up in state level tournament in the U-13 category and only success followed me from then on. Yes, I did taste failures a few times but I feel, the spirit of any game is to play and not to sit for a discussion on the results. The first year of college had some great news for me. The top six players of India, that includes me too,*laugh* get a free trip to Spain and a tour with all the great GM’s of the world. It felt like a fairy tale- I know it sounds ironical much. Just two days back, (Yes sorry… Congratulations for getting placed in TCS) yes now I’m in TCS team, half of my interview sand clock was Chess. And it was the leadership and my passion which made me one in the 205.
By this she had reached the last square and pawn becomes Queen and for every move of mine there is only Check and check. Where has chess taken you far long?
Obviously my God – Vishi Annad, Konery Humpy, Karpo and… (I seriously know only two in the list, better I stop boasting my quizzing abilities) And chess gave me the best of friends… Barathi, Santha, Preeti, Bhakti and Pratyusha. All of us had a wonderful time in Spain and I’m still in touch with all so are they. I have tasted almost every Indian cuisine and breathed the ever refreshing fragrance of the different regions of India. But Kerala remains my favorite even after the Spain trip. The damp ambience is surely God’s own country and moreover My own Country. All my friends were green with envy to see my photograph with Rahul Dravid who was once the chief guest in Vellamal School tournament and I won it there too.
And you win it here too Check and mate and my Raja dies L School and College life?
School was something I missed a feel of. I had back to back matches across the country and I remember attending only the last month before both my boards. All my friends used to celebrate all my victories and wishes used to pour in like tsunami. Somehow I managed a seat in GCT, Sports quota obviously and this place has totally accepted this frequent absentee for I represent the college by default. The people, the trees, the feeling, everything. And my best friend Nandini (TES placed) who is always with me as she is even now. WE never miss a movie and non-veg treats are something we’ll enjoy the most. I love music, melody and my laptop… Appa’s gift and he’s promised an android phone soon *wink*.
Is there anything like your most memorable match or something?
My most memorable match( pause) –es… I would say the blindfold ones and once I stood single against 50 simultaneous boards and 250 fingers craving to slay my army and I finished two … losses? I jumped… No two draws and the remaining kingdoms. AWE!!! Typical matches may last few seconds or even 5 hours in the increment type.
Why do you think Chess, in recent days, not much hyped about and students don’t feel the passion?
There are many players on the board who don’t wish forceful publicity. Chess is all about concentration, passion and patience. Players believe in the spark of the eyes and not the glittering lights. Writing the move is an epic untold .The last round has it all- Competition, confidence, concentration again, covetousness chills and cheers. All I have in front of me is my love- the 8×8 pattern, a few survived warriors, Amma’s magic of her fresh uralakizhangu, My Dad’s dreaming eyes praying for me from home, My Guru’s wait to see me raise my hands in jolt of victory, the desire to be the one and the faith in the one above.
“It’s 11” exclaimed Nandhini.
We’ll have to move. Thank you.
I should say thank you. It was wonderful meeting and playing a match with you.Bye.
“Bye.” They echoed in chorus.
There she left as simple and elegant the same way she entered.
I sat collecting the chess pieces and only one remained on the board. The Queen of White.
She had left the main building by now, but not the board till it went back into my bag.
Thank you Athirai. I started my brisk walk to the Workshop as a proud loser in the game but a proud winner of meeting such a talented personality with the GCT tag and I’m glad Persona Post #3 is ready.
P.S.: Searching for a few pictures for Cabin, my clipboard retained her name and Ctrl+V on the Google bar gave me meet her perfectly once again. Now it can be proudly announced. GCTians can be googled for. Searching a few more, for the future posts. Persona continues.
On the corridors,