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Khushboo Sharma

IWB Blogger

Tania Sachdev On Sexism, Women In Chess, Coping With Failure, And Tips To Master Chess

  • IWB Post
  •  July 9, 2019

Tania Sachdev was just five when she was introduced to the enchanting world of chess. You can ascertain how smitten she was by the game and its intrigue from the fact that she became the youngest player in the world to clinch an international title in any sport at the age of eight.

An Arjuna awardee, Tania currently holds the titles of International Master and Woman Grandmaster. In a recent interaction that she had with FeminaTania talked about her childhood memories full of chess, facing sexism, her mechanism to cope with failure, and also gave away tips to master chess.

Here are excerpts from the interaction:

On a childhood full of chess

“I was barely seven when I started playing. Yes, I missed out on a lot of things that girls my age did, but I continued playing without looking back. I achieved many milestones and success came to me quite early.”

“I could handle it all with ease, thanks to my mother, whose support has been my strength throughout. I remember she used to accompany me for my tournaments when I was little, and I miss that now.”

On the memories of her first win in a tournament

“The date was August 19, 1993, and the tournament was the British Chess Championship, held in Norwich. I not only won the title but also created a world record. I became the youngest player in the world, at the age of eight, to win an international title in any sport. The next day, I was on the front page of a leading British newspaper. When I flew back to India, there was a crowd at the airport, of people who had come to receive me. After that, I was on the front page of The Times Of India. But at that time, I was so young, I never really understood what the fuss was all about.”

On facing sexism as a woman chessplayer

“At times, people said chess was simply more suited to the ‘male mind’ and that women operated at some level of deep, intrinsic disadvantage. I believe this is because of centuries of conscious and unconscious bias, combined with the fact that the contemporary chess scene is riddled with sexism. I have had several derisive comments directed at me. Some said, “I would never have made that move.” Others said, “That was such a girl move.””

“It happens to me frequently, and it takes a lot to not let it get to me. I hope we see a change in this outlook soon. I personally feel women should not care about the things that are said against them. I have faced many taunts, but it just motivated me to continue playing at the top level.”

On the belief that women are reluctant to take up chess as a career

“I feel that women in chess have never got their rightful due. When I started playing, there were no women players from north India. I travelled to South India with my mom to play and train, which was tough. I feel larger funds as incentives for players and more tournaments are the need of the hour. I would say one should always follow through when it comes to one’s dreams. Don’t let fear stand in your way; just believe in yourself at all costs.”

On the toughest match so far

“I think the toughest scenarios are when you participate in an open tournament. Often, you’re at the 40th and 50th seat, which means you’re going to end up playing grandmasters and extremely strong players from across the world. The other tough situations I face are when I play the Asian Championships and the Chess Olympiads. Since I am playing for the country, I feel the excitement and pressure at the same time. But I love challenging myself and feel that in order to give my best, I have to move out of my comfort zone.”

On coping with failure

“In sports, you cannot win each and every game. Failures are a part and parcel of life; one just needs to chin up and move on to the next game. It’s important to not overthink it and dwell on the past. It’s just a matter of improving yourself continuously and working harder.”

On her tips to master chess

“It’s important to keep the endgame in mind. While your bishop and knight may carry equal weight as things kick off, the former’s wider range of motion makes it more formidable as the match progresses towards its end.”

“Most chess games are fraught with ups and downs. Fostering patience and determination while learning how to harness anxiety before it turns to panic, even in less than favourable scenarios, can often lead to success. Don’t overreact, be patient and have fun.”

H/T: Femina


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