Surprise package

PIC:R. ESWARRAJ

Six years ago, Akshayraj Kore (in pic) decided to take a break from chess to concentrate on his studies. Now he is not so sure if that was a wise move. If the 21-year-old’s sterling performance in the National ‘A’ Championship in Mangalore is anything to go by, his doubts are not entirely baseless; he would have progressed a lot in the game in those years. He, however, made up somewhat for his long absence from the game with a splendid, unexpected runner-up finish.

Kore was clearly the find of the tournament — or rather ‘the re-find’. He was one of the more promising players in his age-group when he was a regular on the Indian circuit. “I took a break because I thought I should also devote time to studies,” said the engineering student from Pune. “My performance here is a big morale-booster and now I want to play as many tournaments as I can.”

Kore had done well in the National ‘B’ Championship in Goa, the qualifying event for the National ‘A’, finishing sixth. But nobody expected him to finish No. 2 in Mangalore, not even himself.

“Not even in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that I could end up runner-up in the National ‘A’,” he said. “All I wanted to do was fare reasonably well in what was going to be my first National ‘A’.”

Kore wasn’t just making his debut, he was also the bottom-seed. Since he had nothing to lose, he threw caution to the winds and took chances whenever he could. He played refreshingly attacking chess, often surprising his rivals.

Despite his brilliant show, Kore couldn’t make a Grandmaster (GM) norm. “Now I am confident that I would get the GM norms before long,” he said.

Those who have seen him play in Mangalore won’t be surprised if they see the two letters, GM, before his name in the not-too-distant future.