She has been a quiet performer, plotting the strategy on the 64 squares to get the better of the opponents with ease.
However, the lockdown seemed to have come at the wrong time for the 23-year-old Bodda Pratyusha. The newly-crowned Woman Grandmaster (she achieved the final norm in the Gibraltar international event this January) had to take a break from the competitive circuit just when she was in the mood to take her game to the next level.
"It was disappointing. After getting the GM title, I played in one more tournament before coming back home. And, within days, I am ‘locked’ at home for what is turning out to be the longest stay indoors. The only saving grace being I am with my parents (B.S. Prasad and Satyadevi – both school teachers),” says Pratyusha in a chat with Sportstar on Thursday.
"To be the world champion one day is my biggest goal,” she insists even while gently reminding sponsorship has been a major hurdle as she is yet to get any support. “I met AP Chief Minister Sri Jagan Mohan Reddy gaaru and he promised to help me,” she added.
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Some of the high-points of her career were winning the 2014 Asian (under-18) gold, WIM title in 2016 and in the same year representing India in the Olympiad.
“Then, I had an inconsistent run for about two years for different reasons but now the confidence is back and this GM title is a huge morale-booster,” she says.
For someone who is only the third WGM from both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana after Koneru Humpy and Dronavalli Harika, Pratyusha is, however, pleased that she has been able to work more on her game thanks to the technology.
"Generally, I am quite comfortable with the speed I make my moves and rarely get into time pressure. I feel I need to improve my end-game and that has been the focus right now,” she says.
The B.A. Graduate’s first target is to reach the ELO 2400 from her existing 2329. “Definitely, this may take some more time than I wished as there are no events in the near future because of COVID-19,” Pratyusha said.
The lockdown also meant the India No. 8 in women’s rankings missing the international events in Vietnam and Budapest and a probable slot in the originally scheduled Olympiad this August.
A huge fan of Bobby Fischer and Judith Polgar, whose games she constantly analyses, the Tuni-based chess player has been training for six hours daily even during the lockdown.
“Fortunately, this is one of the very few sports where you don’t need someone else to train with. And whatever doubts I have, I can always call my coach Ramaraju sir and keep improving,” she concluded.