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December 2014 Player of the Month: Shanmukha Meruga

Interview by Davide Nastasio

Editor’s Note: Starting this month, Georgia Chess News will feature a Georgia player each month. If you are interested in being featured, please let us know by emailing us at

I met this player for the first time at the North Carolina Open in 2013. At that time I was doing some experiments with some queen pawn openings and he was rated around 1600, but I felt right away that he was stronger and that the rating didn’t reflect the potential of this bright young player. Then about a year later I saw him at the Georgia Open in 2014 and I realized he acquired 300 points in one year–a dream many have, but few realize. I watched some of his games and came to appreciate his tactical strength and positional understanding of the game. Here a short interview to help us better appreciate this brilliant Georgia player.

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At what age did you learn the rules of chess and who taught you?
I was between 12 and 13 and my mom taught me. Then I used a chess program called Chess Titans online. My first tournament was in 2012, which was a scholastic event at the Atlanta Chess Center.

Is it a chess family, with chess culture?
No! My family came here about 6-8 years ago and I had to learn English from scratch. My father owns a gas station and he was an accountant in India. My brother is good at playing the piano, but not at chess.

I noticed that many champions did have a sibling who played, and they competed with him/her, did it happen to you too?
No, my brother doesn’t play well. I just played online a lot, like 5 hours a day, during summer break, mostly bullet or blitz.

While learning chess, did you have a chess hero?
When I started no, but when I got into it, yes. Now my favorite champion is Vishy Anand.

Do you have a favorite game you played yourself?
Not yet. I like one between Zapata and Anand:

Outside of chess, do you have any time for hobbies?
I like to watch a lot of movies, Indian and American movies.

Were do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I like to help people and I would like to become a cardiologist and a chess grandmaster.

And now a series of selected games from this brilliant young player!

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