Fifty moves into their encounter at the Parsvnath International Open Grandmasters Chess Tournament a couple of weeks back,GM Andrei Deviatkin had to confront the inescapable. After straining unsuccessfully to find an escape,the Russian had to concede defeat to Vaibhav Suri. After signing the scoresheet,he turned away after offering a cursory handshake to the diminutive,bespectacled Indian on the other side of the board.
Vaibhav Suri made no objection to the slight from the stern faced Russian . “It was an understandable reaction. I have beaten many Grand Masters before and Andrei’s reaction was exactly the same as others. Nobody wants to lose to a 14-year-old,” says Vaibhav who finished joint second in that tournament.
Vaibhav had scalped his first GM when still 11,when he got the better of Magesh Chandran,and it was just the beginning. The class nine student of Modern School,Barakhamba Road has been forcing similar results over similar high-ranking players since then. All this despite not having had the kind of success that was expected of him in age group competition,failing to get past the final hurdle in national age group competitions. However in the open category Vaibhav,,currently an International Master with a FIDE rating of 2448,has done remarkably well,collecting two of the three GM norms.
The third that will upgrade him to the status of a GM may come as early as at the Aeroflot Open in Moscow next week,a tournament that will also feature Delhi teammates Sahaj Grover and GM Parimarjan Negi. While Vaibhav looks to avoid building up expectations,he is quietly confident. “My goal in Moscow would just be to learn as much as I can. I want to do well but right now learning is more important. If I get my final GM Norm,it will be a bonus,” says Suri.
Moscow,will be yet another tournament and yet another week Suri will spend on the road. Already this year,he has played tournaments in Vijaywada,Chennai and then Delhi. It is a schedule that wrecks havoc with his school life. “My classmates call me a guest of the class as a joke but I prefer it when they call me by my other nickname checkmate,” he says with a smile. For the moment though,Vaibhav faces the regular pressure of a student as he crams for his final term examination. “Because I play so much chess,I don’t get much time to study. So whenever I get a stretch of time when there is not much chess,I try to make as the most of it,” he says.
With his schedule as packed as it is in between periods of studies Vaibhav will be flipping through old matches or practicing chess on the computer there are few moments when he can relax. Facebook,a lifeline for most children his age,is off limits. “I don’t want to start Facebooking. It is very addictive and I really cant afford that,” he says. It is clear that it is chess that he plans to follow. “At times I play football or cricket with the neighbourhood children. That is fun. Chess is very serious for me,” he says.