You know you are not in the best phase of your career when you cant remember off the head your last tournament victory. It eventually comes to Parimarjan Negi after a few seconds but that gap is daunting enough. Specially since he is widely recognised to be a prodigy with many firsts to his credit. That probably explains why he isnt over the moon at his latest accomplishment – jointly winning the Cappelle La Grande International,an open event in France with 500 players,80 of which were Grand Masters. Finishing first on seven points along with compatriot Harikrishna and three others,Negi was ranked second according to the Buchholz tiebreak rule,a system which favours the player who has faced tougher opponents.
Despite that,a title that comes after a four month drought and a topsy turvy last one year,could be comforting to say the least. Not really,relieved is not the feeling, he says before adding his humble review of his performance: This is what I should be doing in every tournament. Probably four of such tournaments consecutively and then I will feel relieved, Negi says.
The fact that this tournament will add only 10 points to his rating,his feelings are somewhat justified. But for someone chasing the elite 2650 ELO rating for little over a year,a series of good tournaments getting negated by some bad ones isnt helping either.
Ive come teasingly close to 2650 sometimes but then lost ratings in some tournaments where I did not play as well. It is something I have not been able to cross for sometime now,just oscillating between 2617 and 2650, he says.
Whether it was losing to world number 5 Teimour Radjabov in the World Cup of Chess late last year or having to let go of over 20 rating points in the nationals in October,Negis goal took a backseat,something that a second place finish in Dubai in April and winning the Bad Wiessee Open in Germany in November couldnt compensate for. Standing at 2639 now,it is more about getting the number out of the way now before it becomes a bigger psychological hurdle.
It can become a roadblock,I dont know if its psychological or what. It should have been 2650 long back last year according to what I had expected and the thing is 2650 is not even my aim,I need to go much higher than that to be successful enough. So yes,it has become irritating, he says.
Raising the game to the next level and fighting against inconsistency is not a problem unique to the 19-year-old,the tough part lies in working through the rut. There are periods when you go low on motivation. To be at that level,apart from consistency,there are a lot of other factors,you have to learn to make less mistakes,avoid bad days and even if there are bad days you have to make sure you avoid losses on bad days because that one day in one tournament can again put you back on your targets a lot. Some people make the transition in the 2600s easily but Im struggling with it as of now and still trying to figure out how to do things differently, he adds.
But like his whiz kid days when he startled many with his brainstorms,Negi seems to have a solution: I make smaller goals and stay motivated. That hopefully,will see him through to his target,sooner rather than later.