While playing the North Carolina Open, I had the chance to meet many of the master players who played at the US Masters. Unfortunately, they were all preoccupied with chess, or busy preparing for the next round to release interviews. However, there is one expert player from Georgia who agreed to give us the following interview, and commented on some of his games at such a strong tournament.
Q: Is this the first time you’ve played in such a strong tournament with titled players?
Shamukha: Yes, it was the first time I was playing this tournament. I was so excited to face such a strong opposition. Also, the time control was quite long, and I wasn’t used to that. It was 90 minutes for 30 moves, with 30 seconds increment. The only similar tournament I played was the Washington DC international, and there were also a lot of titled players. I really need that kind of opposition in order to learn chess at a higher level. I decided to play these kind of tournaments more often. Fortunately, I got the opportunity now to play in US masters as a junior, although I am just an expert player.
Q: What was your goal prior to the tournament?
Shanmukha: I came here two years ago to play North Carolina Open. That time I was 1600. Besides North Carolina Open, there was US masters also taking place like this time. I went there and watched the games and masters from all over the world. I strongly wished to play this tournament soon. My wish fulfilled this year, I got the opportunity. My main goal for this tournament was just to face the strong opposition and learn the high level chess. These four days, I did not think anything but chess. I got to play against such strong players. I was able to secure first place in the U2100 section. Feeling happy for the good experience and reward. But I wasn’t expecting that much. I just wanted to play strong players, that was my real wish, and it was accomplished.
I also would like to become master before graduating high school. In this tournament for the first time I got a peak rating of 2092, gaining 34 points. I wish we had more strong tournaments like this one in Georgia.
Q: Did you prepare in any special ways?
Shanmukha: Not exactly preparing for the tournament, but I play chess online for hours if I get a chance all the time. I love to play bullet. Then I follow some of the main tournaments, thoroughly watching their games. That was my kind of preparation, I think.
Q: Did you learn from other players in post-mortem analysis?
Shanmukha: Of course, I do after every game I played. I analyzed in the third round with a player rated 2290. He is a writer for the USCF (United States Chess Federation), and we analyzed a lot about the opening. There was a skittle room, and another player came too, and we went back and forth for a while in analyzing the game. Then I discovered this new player was rated around 2650. I was amazed for getting the opportunity to discuss about the game with such high rated player. I value a lot that kind of conversations with strong/ high rated players. I feel like from every analysis with any player, either high rated player or low rated player I learn something. Analyzing the game after we finish playing is the key to identify our blunders, and at the same time learning how to not doing mistakes.
Q: I know your family came with you.
Shanmukha: Yes, My parents and little brother accompanied with me to the tournament to support me. I do not want to miss any of classes in school before and after the tournament. The time was hectic. The first round I had to get a bye, because I had classes up to 10 pm. Then we left to the tournament at 3 am! When I arrived to the tournament, I had to play two tough games. I felt rough because I didn’t have any good sleep.
When I returned I also arrived home at 4 pm, slept one hour, and then I had to go to college because I didn’t want to miss any school.
There, while I was playing, my family went for sightseeing of North Carolina and visited Greensboro Science center, including museum, zoo, aquarium, and also the Hindu temple, as you can see in the pictures.
Shanmukha Meruga’s father and brother.
Shanmukha: Overall my parents, brother and I had very good and pleasant experience from this tournament. We all enjoyed in different aspects. My family and I felt very happy about my performance in this tournament.
And now the games of the North Carolina US Masters:
Davide Nastasio is a novel chess aficionado, who has made of chess his spiritual tool of improvement and self-discovery. One of his favorite quotes is from the great Paul Keres: “Nobody is born a master. The way to mastery leads to the desired goal only after long years of learning, of struggle, of rejoicing, and of disappointment…” He has contributed previously to Georgia Chess Magazine in 2013 and is now a contributing writer in this new exciting media format.