Dressed in a grey suit and navy blue shirt, Parimarjan Negi looks older than his 19 years. But as he breaks into a shy smile when asked about his recent accomplishments, he replies: "I wasn't expected to make a speech, I was busy watching House!" Yes, he maybe a Grandmaster with an ELO rating of 2660, but Parimarjan is not all about chess.
After becoming the youngest Asian individual champion in Vietnam recently, the Delhi lad also became the first Indian to qualify for the 2013 World Cup in Norway. He's come a long way since choosing chess over other sports at the age of five.
“It was a hobby but I probably was better at it than the other sports I tried my hand at,” he said. “It was only in 2006, after achieving the Grandmaster norm, that I got a professional aim. Earlier, it was always one tournament after another. If I didn't win one, I would move on to the other one. It hadn’t struck me what I was playing for.”
Even a layman knows chess is all about the mind. Ask Parimarjan, and he states matter-of-factly: “One must have a completely clear mind and focus on the game. But to be honest, that's not possible when playing. It's impossible to concentrate in the natural state of mind.”
So, what's the solution? “To be able to reduce the junk in the mind, various players try different techniques and it all boils down to what suits one best. The more one can concentrate, the better his game becomes.”
But then what about losses? “I try to push out all the negative emotions at the earliest so I can concentrate on the next game. This is something I’ve been doing recently,” comes the reply.
Many chess players watch films and listen to music as a way to relax. Parimarjan simply happens to enjoy them. "Books, films and music are my hobbies," he says. It's the same with gymming. "It's a separate issue, but being fit helps me feel more confident when I play. And you don't tire easily playing five hours multiplied by nine days."
His next target is breaking into the ELO 2700 bracket.