My Learning Curve (Part 1)
It started on my 4th or 5th birthday, when I received this board game as a birthday present. At that time I did not realize that my journey with these 64 squares would form such an integral part of my life. My father taught me and my elder brother the basics of the game. It feels good when you begin to understand a game and analyse, predict and explore the various possibilities. The same happened with me. I started to crave for more. It was at that point of time when my uncle saw my interest and started to teach me "the moves". For many players the learning of the game is more structured, that is to say, you learn the basic concepts first, the mates with the pieces, the values of the pieces, recognising a winning position and so on and so forth. But for me it was not like that. My initial training with my uncle was slow and adhoc. Whenever he came to my house, the first thing he told me was "Chalo ek baazi lagatey hain!" (Lets play one game!). So I was learning by doing. Nearly everytime, I ended on the losing side due to some tactics blunder, calculation blunder or lack of opening and endgame knowledge. And after I had lost a game, he would point out my mistakes. He was a good player who played tournaments like the famous Piloo Modi in Lucknow and had been acquianted with Grandmaster Dibyendu Barua. Though he lacked somewhat theritically, he compensated tactically. It was from him that I learned to play sharp lines with sacrifices and combinations.
My uncle used to give me some "Chess Mate"(monthly magazine of AICF of that time) books to practice. I still remember that the first thing I used to read was the "Chess Magic" portion(a set of 6-8 unsolved puzzles). Many games of the international and national championships were also in it. Among them the Anand-Kasparov's games were a treat to analyze(though most of the analysis still remains unexplored).
The first tournament which I played was an open tournament of my locality in January 1996, when I was 7 years old. It was a small tournament but still a couple of good players were there. I stood 3rd and received a small trophy . It made my parents feel proud, but I did not know that it would be around 6 years before I will play another. In these 6 years, studies were my major concerns, sadly. Still I managed to practice when I could and did not give it up entirely.
My First Major Tournament (Lucknow District Open and Age Group Chess Championship, 2002)
Thanks to my brother's best friend, I got a chance to play in a District level tournament in which there were many famous players of the district. Seeing players with 2100 - 2200 fide rating sitting and playing in front of me was like getting another heart beside the existing one. My performance in that first tournament was full of ups and downs with wins, losses, draws(I stalemated my opponent thinking that stalemate was a kind of mate, so I would win; really silly when I think about it today) and even a walkover. I was the youngest player over there as a result had my photograph in the city newspapers the next day. Here I am giving my first game of the Open category, thanks to my habit of writing down the moves. It would help the beginners to learn what mistakes to look out for while playing.