Rahul Srivathsav becomes an IM at the age 15 years and 9 days
He was rated 2295 around August 2017 with no IM norms. Rahul Srivathsav stunned everyone by gained over 100 Elo points and gaining all his three IM norms within 6 months! By January 2018 he was already an International Master at the age of 15 years and 9 days. How did this boy from Hyderabad improve so quickly? What is his secret? ChessBase India got in touch with Rahul's first trainer, his father and tried to unravel the reasons behind Rahul's meteoric rise. If you go through the article below, you will realize one common factor throughout Rahul's career - he always wants to work on his weaknesses and come out stronger.
The boy who improved under the famous trainers of Andhra
Rahul Srivathsav started learning chess in a group class when he was 7 years old. His father would guide him at home on the basics of chess. When he was taken to tournaments, he showed a lot of interest in learning and playing games. That's when Srikanth (Rahul's father) thought that the next step had to be taken and approached Gangaraju Muralikrishna. The coach identified the hidden skills of the youngster and started to impart him with knowledge that helped him grow as a chess player. Getting the right coach was crucial for Rahul's development as he immediately started performing well. He won the state selection tournaments and qualified for the nationals. He finished fourth in under-9 nationals and also won a bronze medal in Asian Youth under-10. He also finished second in the under-11 nationals. This clearly showed what a big talent Rahul was.
Learning under G. Muralikrishna was very useful for two reasons. Firstly he was a great coach and secondly he had students who were equal to the level of Rahul. One of them was Dhulipala Bala Chandra Prasad. Rahul and Bala Chandra Prasad worked together and it is interesting to note that both of them became International Masters roughly around the same time. In order to develop a student at chess a lot of qualities have to be worked upon. G. Muralikrishna gave special importance to deep calculations, blindfold chess, blindfold simuls, memory improvement techniques and much more. Rahul's association with Muralikrishna has been very fruitful.
After his work with Muralikrishna Rahul continued his journey to keep getting better with Narahari Ramaraju. Rahul had many skills in him and these were finetuned by Ramaraju. At this point, we have to remind the readers that Ramaraju is the one who has ensured Harika has become one of the best woman players in the world. Whatever weaknesses Rahul possessed in his game like lack of opening knowledge and lack of positional understanding were fixed by Ramaraju. The young boy started playing the main line openings and this helped him a lot. Just like he had done with Bala Chandra Prasad, Rahul worked with Harsha Bharathakoti and other students of Ramaraju to become better.
Another important stepping stone to Rahul's success was his visit to USA. He took the membership of Marshall Chess Club, one of the most famous and historical clubs in New York. There he got to play against many 2600+ rated opponents. Playing against such high calibre players and winning some of the games helped him improve his confidence. With all of this training it was certain that Rahul would deliver at tournaments, and he did.
Srivathsav got his 1st IM norm at the Riga open, Latvia in August 2017. He has got his 2nd IM norm in Groningen open, Netherlands in December. He played so well at the event that he missed the GM norm by a whisker. In this tournament he outplayed many strong Dutch youngsters like Lucas van Foreest, Beerdsen Thomas etc. and also a few grandmasters. Here's his game against Lucas van Foreest which Rahul has specially annotated for the readers of ChessBase India.
The first IM norm came in August 2017, the second on in December. It was clear that the strength was there and Rahul made his final IM norm at the Vergani cup in Italy in January 2018. With this, he also crossed 2400 Elo rating and completed all the requirements for the IM title at the age of 15 years 9 days.
What are Rahul's next aims? He wants to become a grandmaster within a year. His next tournament is the Aeroflot Open B in Moscow in February 2018. This is where Rahul wants to gain experience from the Russian opponents and try for his GM norm.
Rahul's strategy for improvement has been simple. Focus on the things that need to be improved and work on them seriously. When he had surpassed the level of his father, he started working with G. Muralikrishna. After him, he fine-tuned his skills under Ramaraju. He went to USA and learned from the players at the Marshall Chess Club. And now he wants to go to Moscow to fight against the best Russian opponents. Always focussing on improvement, always concentrating on what needs to be done to get better has got him this far and there is no reason why he should stop here.
Rahul is currently studying in the 10th grade in Hyderabad. His father is a mechanical engineer and his mother accompanies him to different tournaments all over the world. ChessBase India congratulates this young boy for his IM title and hopes that he will become a grandmaster soon.