It feels great to compete at the international level after a gap of two years and win two back-to-back titles, says Grandmaster M. R. Lalith Babu.
The 29-year-old won at the Thailand Chess Festival and the Vergani Cup in Italy on Sunday.
“Honestly, the Thai event was not that highly rated but it was important for me to get the feel of the tension of the onboard atmosphere, time pressure. I was desperate to get to competitive mode across the board,” he said in a chat with Sportstar.
Though he tied with three others including top-seed Anton Korobov, the Vijayawada-based Lalith was declared winner in Vergani Cup on Sunday as he finished with five wins and four draws.
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“The biggest challenge when you are back after such a long break is to beat the boredom, especially for a chess player. It was an extremely difficult phase even though the preparations, on my own, were normal and nothing special. Frankly, I didn’t try any novelties in both the events but was focussed more on playing long lines to lure the opponents to make mistakes,” he said.
‘Winning feeling important’
“I am not saying that I am back with a bang. But the winning feeling is pretty much important as it suggests that you are back to where you belong. Because there were no expectations after such a gap, I was more relaxed and glad to win the two titles,” he said.
Lalith, whose major feats include winning the Olympiad team bronze and the China international title in October, 2019, said he would compete in two more events in the coming weeks – in Czech Republic (January 15) and Budapest (February 5).
“The pandemic scenario is pretty grim with all the restrictions in place. But, fortunately, as things stand we can play the above two tournaments and hope to make the most of them,” said Lalith, who became Grandmaster in 2012.
“By virtue of the two titles now, I will be able to improve my ELO rating by 12 points from my current rating of ELO 2548,” he added.
The former Asian Games silver medallist and Commonwealth gold medallist said he hoped he would be able to compete in more events even as the pandemic poses a serious threat to the entire schedule including the Nationals in India in February in Kanpur.