I travelled 3 states, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu to reach Pondicherry by train . I had been to Pondicherry 3 years ago for the Nationals U-7 championship which was memorable. Things haven’t changed much and still I can feel the quiet and calmness of the beautiful Pondicherry.
This is the 29th Nationals U-11 Championship.This tournament was going to be a hard one as there are more than 250 people all over India. It was intense as the all the top players of U11 age category were there in both categories. CM Nihal Sarin and FM R Praggnanandhaa were the top players in the boy’s category and WFM Divya Deshmukh and Mridul Dehankar were the toppers in the girl’s category.
The playing hall was spacious , crowded ,noisy yet comfortable. The zero-tolerance made everything even more chaotic. Nevertheless it did not dampen the spirits of the players.
|Arumuga Thirumananilayam Hall|
I was upset when Praggnanandhaa made a few draws at the start because the last time, he had been flawless. But he made a great come back and was crowned the champion. I met him just before the last round, which was a crucial round but he was totally chilled out and he was playing with his friends, something that I admire. I must tell you that there is a lot to learn from my friend! All I can say is that “simplicity at its best”!
|Just the day before the last round, chilling out with Praggnanandhaa, the future world champion|
Mridul Dehankar came first in the championship. She made a brilliant score of 10.5 out of 11 and stood undefeated.Nihal Sarin and Divya Deshmukh missed it by a whisker and came second.
It was a wonderful tournament and I scored 5.5 and gained 17ELO points. Not a great score to boast for but had an amazing playing experience. The ninth and tenth round loss and the last round draw turned out to be the low point of the tournament. But I must say that the round number 5 game is something I relish even now. It was much appreciated by my coaches.
Aurobindo Andhra bhavan was an old colonial house converted to simple, basic rooms and at a reasonable rate. It did not have any TVs or Wi-Fi but was very close to Goubert Avenue, which is the Marine drive of Pondicherry.It was a perfect place to relax in the evening.
|Aurobindo Andhra Bhavan|
Food was never a problem. In fact the delicious food was very soothing after loss.
But I must say one restaurant called La Pasta was where I mostly went. It is a Italian restaurant La Pasta world
owned by Eric. He cooked amazing pasta and made me have pomodoro (Tomato,
Basil) and spaghetti. Eric even told me the Italian way to eat spaghetti and a quick lesson on cooking.. He
also kept me company, as I would go there on my own all alone.
|My mother's favourite south Indian thali|
|The best pasta in the world by Chef Eric|
There are a few tourist attractions that I would like to recommend and that I enjoyed.
· Paradise beach is an island to which you must go by boat. It was very clean and beatiful and good when you are with friends atleast i had lods of fun.
· Handmade Paper Factory was very informative
· Aurobindo Ashram is where Sri Aurobindo"s Samadhi is situated. There are also some of his books in different languages.
My friend Hetvi was a great company. We analysed our games, solved tactics, played a few games against each other and we shared our ups and downs of the tournament
|My chess buddy, Hetvi, busy analysing games|
This trip is going to be in my memory forever. It has certainly been a good tournament with good games and good experience. I will come back stronger no matter how nuch hard work it takes. I am sure my parents and my coaches will be with me with my every step.
|The past can hurt,but the way I see it,you can either run from it or learn from it. from'The Lion King'|