For somebody, who is only the second chess player from the region to have earned the International Master (IM) title, 23-year-old chess player Himal Gusain from Chandigarh has come a long way in his decade-long career. While his first IM norm came in 2012, the youngster had to wait till 2016 to earn his second IM norm and when FIDE, the world chess body, awarded Gusain the International Master title last month; it marked a major step in the player’s career.
“Yes, it has been a long wait for me. But I do realise that I play according to my potential and achieve whatever I can. Getting the second IM norm after four years was a bit of a delay for me, but getting the IM title now means a lot. It will help me in gaining direct entry to some tournaments and play more tournaments. And to become only the second IM from the region will also make me understand how to play with more responsibility and maintain my rating points,” said Gusain, who recently completed his masters in economics from SD College, Sector 32.
Gusian, who claimed his first title in Chandigarh State Chess Championships in 2007, has won eight titles in the championships from 2007 to 2015. While his first IM norm came in the Odisha International Chess Championship in Bhuvneshwar in 2012 with a 16th position, the 23-year-old won the All India FIDE Rating Chess Championship in New Delhi in 2014 before winning the Mineral FIDE Open in Vadodra in 2015. Last year saw Gusian playing in Aeroflot Open in Moscow, Russia and Chigorin Memorial Chess Tournament in St Petersburg, Russia, where he earned his second IM norm and first Grand Master (GM) norm.
This year, Gusain won the title in Delhi Open FIDE Rated Chess Tournament and the youngster plans to earn his second GM norm with improved performances in Russia. “I have been maintaining my FIDE rating points close to 2,400 and I aim to play in the Aeroflot Open in Moscow next year. The Aeroflot Open is one of my favourite tournaments as I get to play against much higher ranked chess players. A fine performance in Moscow will also help my rating points. I will also be playing in the Parsvnath International Chess Open in Delhi next year. Becoming a GM is difficult and after you get the title, a loss impacts your rating points,” says Gusain whose father Pushpender Singh Gusain is a scientist with SCL-ISRO in Mohali.
Gusain will now play in the Hyderabad Open starting September 25 and with no sponsor backing, the youngster trains on his own apart from online discussions and training sessions with his friends. “Currently I do not have a coach nor a sponsor. Earlier, I trained under GM Abhijit Kunte in Pune for some time but nowadays I discuss chess strategies with my friends. I like watching world champion Magnus Carlsen and I watched his match against Viswanathan Anand in Chennai in 2013. Maybe, when I become a GM, I may play against Carlsen,” says Gusain whose FIDE rating is 2,454.