He is fiercely competitive and loves challenges. But what sets this nine-year-old apart from the rest of the young players doing the rounds of chess tournaments in the country is his confidence and disregard for reputation.
On Sunday, Hetul Shah created history when he beat Grandmaster Nurlan Ibrayev of Kazakhstan in the opening round of the Parsvnath Chess. According to the organisers, he has broken Parimarjan Negi's record of being the youngest Indian to beat a GM. Negi was 11 when he beat Ivan Nemet in the Biel Open in 2004.
"I have never beaten a GM before, so it's a momentous occasion for me," said Shah, a fourth standard student of DPS, Ahmedabad. "All that I did was believed in my game. I was a pawn up in the opening itself and by the middlegame I had two-pawn advantage. All that I needed to do was play safe and I managed to win."
Shah got hooked on to the sport after seeing his sister Charmi play. "I play with her most of the time," he said.
But what bothers him right now is whether he would be able to participate in the U-10 World Championships in Greece next year. "I don't know. If I get sponsors I would definitely go," said Shah, a fan of World Champion Viswanathan Anand.
Meanwhile, most of the Indians in fray had an easy outing in the first round. Surya Shekhar Ganguly, Negi, Abhijit Kunte and Dibyendu Barua started with wins. Ganguly, the rated India player here, won against Niraj Saripalli while Kunte brushed aside DK Chopra. Barua beat Dinesh Kumar Gupta. Negi, though needed to work a little harder, beat Vasanta Wettasinha of Sri Lanka.