Best bet for the future

MANUEL AARON

RAMESH KURUP

PARIMARJAN NEGI'S third place in the World Under-12 championship at Heraklio was not a surprise. From his run-up to this event one expected a gold medal from him. At Greece he led with 6/6, then lost his seventh game to the ultimate winner of the tournament, Zhao Nan of China. In the remaining four games he drew with two other Chinese and finished third.

He dropped points during the closing stages of the championship. It was not known at that time but that period coincided with the onset of an attack of jaundice. He was complaining of a lack of appetite and one put it down to tournament tension. After receiving his medal at the closing ceremony he came to the restaurant and, without any warning, vomited. Then he was often clutching his stomach as it hurt. He threw up three more times before landing in Delhi. It was best that his mother Paridhi Negi was with him at this championship. A few hours after landing in Delhi, tests were done and the diagnosis was out, Parimarjan had jaundice. And the tests revealed that it had been there since 15 days prior to the vomiting incident. He had played the whole championship when he had not been medically fit.

At the age of four, Parimarjan Negi, born on February 9, 1993, was taught the moves by his father's friend. The next year he entered the world of competitive chess playing in the Under-7 Nationals in 1998. He didn't do well. But in 1999 he won his first Delhi State chess title, the Under-12 rapid. The same year he played in the National U-7 again and came 13th. By the year 2000 he had improved vastly and finished runner-up in the National U-7.

In the 2001 National U-9 in Chennai he finished fifth, but the quality of his games already showed that here was a boy with a big potential. The year 2002 gave Parimarjan many successes. He surprised the world, winning the Asian Under-10 championship at Tehran and the National U-9 at Lucknow. In 2003 he won the National U-11 at Delhi and the bronze medal at the Asian Under-10 at Kozhikode.

The year 2004 has been a year of hectic chess activities for this youngster. He played in the Dubai

Open in April and beat the Azeri players IM Nidjat Mamedov and WGM Kadimova. Yet, he missed his first IM norm by just half a point. He played in the two-day Biel rapid chess tournament at Switzerland and scored 7/11, the same as GM Sasikiran. Parimarjan was 13th and Sasi, 11th. Parimarjan won a special prize for those who scored 6.5 or more. In the main event at Biel he beat GM Ivan Nemet of Switzerland. This made him the youngest ever Indian to beat a GM.

He made his first IM norm at the Bad Wiessee tournament in Germany in November 2003. This year, at 11 years and four months, he became the youngest ever to win the National sub-junior championship where the age limit is 15.

The ONGC must be proud to have sponsored him. He hails from a middle class family and the sponsorship is very useful and timely. He has been trained by G. B. Joshi, IM Vishal Sareen, GM Evgeny Vladimirov and GM Ruslan Sherbakov in his short and meteoric career.

Parimarjan is an avid reader. He loves to play badminton. There is no television in their home and even when he comes across a TV programme elsewhere, he doesn't evince any special interest. He is India's best bet for the future.