GM Harsha sharpens chess skills with champion Harika

GM Harsha Bharathakoti, who is under Harika's first coach N.V.S. Ramaraju, says the biggest challenge is to stay in touch with the classical format.

Young chess talent GM Harsha Bharathakoti with three-time World championship bronze medallist GM Dronavalli Harika.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT


The COVID-19 lockdown may have dented the morale of many athletes but for GM Harsha Bharathakoti it has offered an opportunity worth cherishing – to share thoughts on the 64 squares with one of the best brains in Indian chess, GM Dronavalli Harika.

The 20-year-old Harsha, now training online mostly because of the pandemic, says it is a joy to work with someone like ‘Harika Akka’.

“She is such an experienced and class player and I am sure I will be a much better player in the days to come after these online, interactive sessions with her who is preparing for the next Olympiad,” he says in a chat with Sportstar.

 “She explains how intense the competition and the high standards the game will be at a higher grade. She also explains how the mindset of a player should be, like how to mentally prepare and stay focussed for the huge challenges,” says the 2019 International Memorial of Irena Warakomsa champion.

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The young talent, trained by N.V.S. Ramaraju (interestingly Harika’s first coach), says the biggest challenge for him in online training is to stay in touch with the classical format.

“I have to strike the right balance between online competition and classical format which are totally different. Yes, the huge advantage of online games is that we don’t feel the psychological pressure at all. But, if we overdo that and not train properly in classical format, we might struggle once the international competitions begin after the pandemic,” says Harsha.

Harika believes has the talent, is hard working but badly in need of international exposure.

“So, I am conscious of this and constantly in touch with my coach and I am also confident of improving my game in both the formats,” says the B.Com first year student of Spoorthi College.

"My target is to break into the ELO 2700 elite group (right now his ELO is 2509). It is a long way to go but I am putting in the desired efforts to make the right kind of impact,” says the soft-spoken champion.

“Well, it seems that we won’t be having any outdoor tournaments this year and have to be content with online chess. But, I am utilising this time to improve my opening and end-games,” he concludes.

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