Anuj Shrivatri becomes the youngest IM of Madhya Pradesh
Anuj Shrivatri became the youngest International Master of Central India and Madhya Pradesh. How did he become an IM at the age of 15 years? Where did his journey start? We get to know about it all in his journey of becoming an IM. He became an IM last year on 22nd August. So we take a look at who all helped him in his path to success, his best games annotated by himself from each of the tournaments where he made a norm, how he realized the importance of having a good stamina to deliver a good performance, what he did when he kept making draws at World Youth and much more. Get to know about this young boy's inspirational journey. Photo: Niklesh Jain
Anuj Shrivatri becomes an IM at the age of 15 years
Anuj Shrivatri became Central India and Madhya Pradesh's youngest IM last year at the age of 15 years 31 days. We unveil the journey of the boy from Katni who started playing chess at an early age of seven and how he became an IM without having a coach for the last few years. Initially late V K Tiwari helped him then Yashpal Arora, Rajesh Bahadur and Niklesh Jain. Although he wouldn't recommend anyone to take the path he took as having a coach will help the player to reach his/her goal faster.
Anuj became an International Master on 22nd August 2019. I decided to catch up with him and get a glance at his journey of becoming the state's youngest IM.
Shahid Ahmed (SA): Congratulations for becoming one of the latest IMs of India. How did it feel when you completed the IM-title requirements?
Anuj Shrivatri (AS): Thank you! It was a wonderful feeling, I can't describe it in words. But after that I was listening to my favorite songs all night!
SA: Where did you make your final IM-norm and cross the 2400 rating barrier?
AS: I completed both requirements in the Sant Adria Tournament. I completed my final IM-norm with a round to spare and I crossed 2400 in live rating after fourth round.
SA: When did you start playing chess and where are you from?
AS: I started playing chess when I was seven years old. I am from Katni, Madhya Pradesh.
SA: Who is your coach?
AS: Currently I am mostly working on my own. Previously Rajesh Bahadur sir was my coach from 2016 to 2019 and I am thankful for him as I learned a lot in this period from him. Even now I find his advice very useful and Inspiring.
I must say that I also learned a lot from Anup Deshmukh sir. In Spain 2017, we used to analyse our games together and it was really helpful for me and also he is so calm and composed. I have been with him in Spain for almost two months and I have never seen him in any tension or pressure which was truly remarkable for me! He also helped me a lot in Spain. Whenever I had a bad day he would still inspire me which I am very thankful for him. Also in Goa 2019 he kept inspiring me even though my first half of the tournament wasn't great, he kept motivating me and my second half was definitely great for me!
Niklesh Jain sir has always been there, Previously I also used to train with him and he is still there, always to help me and I also see him like a friend (mentor of course). Maybe that's why I feel most comfortable while playing a tournament together with him!
I should also say that there are problems in finding a good coach in Madhya Pradesh. Of course up to some level (like 2300 or 2200) you will find a good coach, but after that to improve there aren't many coaches, In around 2018, I tried to contact some of the very good coaches in India (mostly in south, but some other GMs as well, I wouldn't like to say the names, as this is the case wherever you go for GM coaching). Most of them were busy coaching others, while others had high fees for coaching and you can't take classes regularly. Also if you go somewhere especially for coaching, staying there and taking coaching would be simply too expensive. So I decided to completely focus on my own self-practice and I am happy that I managed to become an IM without a coach, but I wouldn't recommend that path for everyone, a good coach will certainly help you to achieve your goal faster.
SA: How much support have you received from your family and school?
AS: I am most thankful for my parents. Without their support it would be unthinkable for me, they always stood with me irrespective of the form I was having and they always kept motivating me to play better and not worry about the result.
My school has also supported me, they didn't ask for my attendance and my study work, syllabus etc. of class, so that I can safely play without worrying too much about it.
SA: Spain is the only country you have played outside of India from 2017-19. How did that help you and how was it playing consecutive tournaments there?
AS: I would like to correct you. I also played in Montevideo, Uruguay in World Youth Under-14 and finished fourth which was memorable for me, especially because how many draws I made in the start and then it seemed like it is over for me. I didn't focus too much on result and started to watch my favourite tv show regularly in late nights! After which I won three consecutive games and made it in a respectable position!
Also playing consecutive tournaments in Spain was very helpful for me, which helped me to understand that without stamina it is impossible to deliver good chess. Also the environment and playing conditions were very good there. I won't go in much detail as anyone who has played in Spain will know it!
SA: Whom would you like to thank for all your success?
AS: My parents of course!
SA: What books/materials did you use on your journey towards the IM title?
AS: I read a lot of books which I can wholeheartedly recommend - Kasparov's My Great Predecessors by Kasparov. My first books were Capablanca's best games by Golombek and Karpov's best games by Karpov. I also liked Kramnik's book on his life.
SA: How did you balance studies and chess?
AS: Till class ninth it was easy to manage. However in tenth everyone used to say -'' It's boards this year!''. Turns out tenth was also easy for me in which I scored 92%, but eleventh PCM (Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics) wasn't that easy as the syllabus got too large like price of oil. However it was also good. I scored 87%. In general, studies doesn't feel like a burden to me and I enjoy it. Maybe that's the secret!
SA: How are you dealing with the unprecedented pandemic situation?
AS: I am practicing the areas in chess which are to be improved. Apart from it, I keep playing online tournaments. Besides chess, I am studying depending on the situation. I am also reading some good books on life like Geeta!
SA: Now that you have become an IM, what's next for you?
AS: I am waiting for the lockdown to end as soon as possible so that I can start playing OTB (over-the-board) chess and complete the GM title!
SA: I saw you wearing an Indian Oil badge in some tournaments. Do you have a scholarship of Indian Oil or something else?
AS: Yes I have an Indian Oil sponsorship. I got it after the Goa GM tournament in 2019 and I am very thankful for them for providing me the scholarship.
SA: Thank you Anuj for taking the time to answer these questions, I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.
AS: Thank You!
Anuj selected three of his best games from each event where he made an IM-norm and annotated them.