A story of diligence and fortitude

Having won three National age-group titles on the trot, Sayantan Das is now aiming for international glory. By Amitabha Das Sharma.

When Sayantan Das picked up his first international rating point at the age of seven in 2004 — the second youngest chess player in the country to do so — he gave a glimpse of his prodigious talent. And continuing with that promise, he achieved a rare feat of winning three National age-group titles (15-and-under, 17-and-under and 19-and-under) on the trot. While Sayantan won the first of those titles in September 2012, he captured the National 19-and-under crown in the third week of July this year.

Diligence and fortitude underline Sayantan’s emergence as the latest chess talent in the country. The 16-year-old chess player bravely fought off indigence to get to where he is now.

“I keep learning from every match, and that helps me have a better grasp of the game of chess,” said Sayantan after winning the National (19-and under) title in Lucknow.

The young champion acknowledged the help of Grandmaster Ziaur Rahman of Bangladesh in his success. “His (Ziaur’s) coaching has helped me a lot in playing the right moves in the crucial stages of the game. I have improved a lot under his guidance,” said Sayantan, who had his first lessons at the Goodricke National Chess Academy in Kolkata.

Having won three National age-group crowns, which make him one of the most accomplished juniors in the country, the Standard XII student of the Scottish Church Collegiate School in Kolkata is aiming for international glory.

“I would like to do well in the Asian and World junior tournaments,” he said. “I have already earned the three norms required to become an International Master. I just need three more Elo rating points to make it 2400 and ensure the title. I hope to gain them very soon,” Sayantan said before leaving for the Under-16 Chess Olympiad in China.

Sayantan, who has almost monopolised (The Telegraph) school chess crown by winning it on the last three occasions, said he is preparing to become a Grandmaster.

“I plan to play more foreign tournaments and gain in experience. It is necessary to play against bigger opponents, which is possible in tournaments where the GMs also play,” he said.

“This is the time when I will have to switch over to the Open stage. I need wins against stronger opponents to improve my rating. I am preparing hard and hope to make a good beginning in the senior stage,” he added.

Sayantan, currently supported by a scholarship from the public sector giant Hindustan Petroleum, said that money is still a big hurdle and that he is hoping for support from the All India Chess Federation.

“You need success to get noticed. I have been through a lot of hardship but never lost focus. I hope things will ease out a bit now that I have won the National titles,” he said.