Chess suffers from lack of exposure: Harika
Back home after her gold winning performance, the WGM looks ahead
Shreya Chakravertty

New Delhi, October 31: Indian chess youngsters won 10 medals — five of them gold — at the World Youth Chess Championships in Batumi, Georgia. However, Dronavalli Harika, a gold winner, feels the feats were consigned to too small a corner by the media.

Harika, who won gold in the under-18 category, was in the Capital today, and she has her own opinion on the sport’s publicity. “It does bother me when I win something big and no one seems to be interested, but I feel that there are other sports which are worse off in terms of attention,” says the 16-year-old from Guntur, Andhra Pradesh.

“Now, a lot more people are playing chess, and doing well at it too; the better we perform, the more news it’ll make. Perhaps, we will attract more people to the sport professionally,” she adds with a grin.

It’s been a long journey for the teenager since she took to the game at the age of eight. It was her father, a keen chess player, who introduced her to the world of the 64 black-and-white squares, and it doesn’t seem likely that her normal 12 hours of practice a day will burn her out. “Hard work, concentration, a keen interest in the game — all this is necessary to be successful. One can’t do without parental support or encouragement either,” she says. Harika is fortunate to be blessed with all these.

But success is a double-edged sword, and pressure comes with it in a package. “I feel the pressure because I’m travelling and playing on my father’s money. He is the one who is supporting me, and I want to live up to his expectations. I don’t have any sponsors at the moment, and the financial difficulties are more now than when I first started playing. International exposure is very important, and it costs money to play abroad,” says Harika, who, in the course of her travels, plays mostly in Europe, but has had some stints in the US as well.

The full article can be read here.
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