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Promise of potential

Joining the talented players from the State is Nalluri Vinuthna, who at 14 is all set to usher in a new chapter in chess, says V.V. SUBRAHMANYAM.


STUNNING SHOW: Nalluri Vinuthna makes the moves. - Photo: Mohd Yousuf

FOR QUITE sometime, it has been the chess prodigies from the Guntur-Krishna belt in Andhra Pradesh, who have been hogging the limelight both at the national and the international level. Justifiably so, as they turned out to be very good in translating their immense potential into performances when it mattered most. Apparently influenced by the emergence of India's youngest Grandmaster, Pentyala Harikrishna, and World junior champion, Koneru Humpy, 14-year-old Nalluri Vinuthna from Hyderabad is determined to usher in a new chapter. Giving fresh hopes to the chess buffs from the twin cities with her consistent performances in the different age group Nationals, winning a medal in all the events she participated in the last seven years.

And, her latest title-triumph in the Oakridge National sub-junior championship in the City can well mark the beginning of a crucial phase for Vinuthna herself. For she is the first Hyderabad girl to put up such a stunning show in the Sub- junior national in recent times, which is also her maiden national title. In fact, chess seemed to have caught up with Vinuthna, a product of Chess Academy of Narayanaguda, quite naturally as her father Gopal Rao was a national player. Quite expectedly, Gopal Rao spotted talent in his daughter when she started making those hesitant moves at the age of seven. That was the time when he saw to that she was coached by his friend, T.Damodhar. That was just the beginning. Vinuthna's first big competition was the State under-eight championship in Andhra where V.R.Bobba, now secretary of AP Chess Association, was the first one, outside Vinuthna's family to predict a bright future for the youngster. Ever since, it has been a quite and steady progress interspersed with a three-year break. It is only since 18 months that the Xth standard student of Castle Town High School started showing the required level of improvement under the tutelage of P.Jaganmohan. The most encouraging aspect being the first girl to win the State men's championship in Eluru last month. And, the way she outmanoeuvred three National players top-seed Eesha Karvade, Sowmya Swaminathan and Mary Ann James is perhaps the first clear hint that Vinuthna has finally come of age. The Hyderabadi girl's demolition of Eesha Karvade in Sicilian Defence Paulsen Variation in 64 moves was proof enough of her true ability and growing stature.

For someone who is acknowledged to be very good in middle and end-games, Vinuthna still has a long way to improve if only she desires to scale the summit in the age group championships. Predictably, the focus is on her opening preparations, traditionally a weak link for most of the Indian girls. She is aware of the grey areas, which need to be paid greater attention. And, she is already on the job, armed with CDs featuring various games to let her master the intricacies of the opening variations. Her biggest asset is her ability to stay cool even in a crisis. She never gives the impression of someone who is in a hurry and this often tends to give scope for complacence in the rival's mind.

Vinuthna is not really ambitious. She has a long-term plan and is keen to implement provided she gets the required support on the coaching and financial fronts. On an average she needs Rs. 2 lakhs to take care of the expenditure to take part in different national events. "Obviously, we will be very happy if some sponsor chips in to lend a helping hand to Vinuthna,'' says her father.

It is not without reason that the unassuming girl doesn't want to be compared in her training programme to the established names like Humpy and Harikrishna. Their dedication and commitment levels are duly acknowledged. A two-hour daily training schedule with her coach and occasionally with her younger sister, N. Pragna Patavi, who also took part in the Sub-junior nationals here and did come up with some good results, is her daily routine. The major handicap for Vinuthna is the plain fact that Hyderabad is not known to host competitive chess tournaments regularly. The Chess Association of Hyderabad is more famous for its games off the board than on it. Consequently, it is players like Vinuthna who suffer the most for want of competitive atmosphere. Clearly, the next few months can well indicate which way her career graph is taking. The brilliant performance in the Sub-junior national should lift her morale and increase the confidence to the desired levels. Is there a new script by another talented youngster in the offing at the highest level? Well, only time will tell what is in store for the chess lovers.

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