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Atlantan Wins National Chess Championship

June 2005
Atlantan Wins National Chess Championship

Gautam Narula, 12, sustained all the way to national championship in the "Unrated Individual" category of the K6 (National Elementary) section with a clean sweep of 7-0.

The recent scholastic chess tournament held in April by the United States Chess Federation, the governing body for chess in the United States, was ? at over 5000 entries ? the world's largest such tournament. Held in Nashville, TN, students from 1300 schools in 48 states gathered at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. Pride, trophies, and scholarships were on the line during the four days of intense competition.

National scholastic tournaments are held each year but are divided by location into elementary, middle school, and high school events. Every four years all three are gathered at one site for a "Super" National. The 2005 event was the third such event.

Atlanta 6th grader, Gautam Narula, beat formidable odds in a sensational win in the "Unrated Individual" category in the National Elementary school section of the championship. "I was a bit nervous because I knew there were many who prepare for this event all year long. I'm involved in so many other things that I hadn't had time to prepare much," says the chess prodigy who was introduced to the game by dad Naveen Narula. Indeed, Gautam's mother Kavita Chhibber credits Naveen as his chess mentor. Playing since the age of seven, Gautam has won several accolades over the years; but this was his first outing as an unranked player in such an important national championship.

His amazing clean sweep of 7-0 masks the perils and drama that Gautam prevailed through during his ascent to the trophy. "Nervously biting nails and almost being in tears" is how he describes his condition during couple of the close games. But this was soon overshadowed by the euphoria of a fantasy-like claim to the trophy in his category.

Talking about his experience at the Nationals, Gautam says the highlight of the event for him, besides his title, were the lectures by various grandmasters like Yasser Seirwan (the first American contender for the world title since Bobby Fischer), Grandmaster Maurice Ashley (one of the few African American grandmasters) and others.

When speaking about chess, Gautam seems mature beyond his age. "Chess is a fascinating game that beautifully intertwines psychology and strategy. It is something we often use in many areas of our life. Chess has taught me that no matter how sure you are of something, there's a good chance you'll be wrong. It has taught me patience, the importance of seeing things through different points of view, and to remain courageous when I am tackling an opponent who is ranked higher than I."

[For a full account and personal reflection of Gautam on his journey through the championship, go to www.khabar.com]

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