Published: 23rd June 2021
I want to be the youngest grandmaster: Meet 10-year-old Alana Kolagatla, Andhra's latest chess sensation
Alana Meenakshi Kolagatla started playing chess when she was three and has never really stopped since then. She is looking forward to grow up and earn the title of Grandmaster someday. What a champ!
The ever-curious mind of Alana Meenakshi Kolagatla is sharp and focussed. For a ten-year-old, she is very headstrong and when she sets her mind to it, she can accomplish any task. Makings of a good chess player, wouldn't you say? Well, her accomplishments surely scream that from the rooftops. Just last week, this youngster from Visakhapatnam became the Andhra Pradesh Under-10 Girls Champion and she is headed to the nationals now. So, we attempt to pick her brains in order to understand the question that baffles all of us — what goes into the making a genius?
She trains from 9 and to 1:30 pm and then from 2 to 6:30 pm. Late evenings are reserved for academics and homework
When Alana's parents emboldened the li'l one to take up a sport, she knew right off the bat that it was her mental energy that she wanted to burn — and what better way to do so than chess? "Everything matched. The techniques and the mental gym," she recalls. At three, she took to this board game and at six, she went pro. One of the first tournaments she competed in was the Asian Schools U7 Girls 2018, in both classic and rapid formats. "I lost one game in the classic format, but I knew that I could still win it," says the student of Timpany School. Since then, there have been many wins and a few losses too, but it's a mixture of both that maketh a fine sportsperson, right?
Top of the world
Alana practices diligently for over four to five hours every day, which could stretch to eight hours on some days — an ability she had to build patiently over time. "My number one priority is chess. I often miss out on fun outings with friends, but I have no regrets. I could join them in the future perhaps, but this precious time, if lost, will definitely not come back," notes Alana. Having that clarity itself is half the battle won for any sportsperson, frankly.
For Alana, it's very simple, frankly. Playing chess and winning tournaments makes her very happy
The small wonder respects the fact that chess has given her happiness and confidence so she hopes to remain loyal to the game. She doesn't let losses bother her as long as she knows that she has learnt a new way of not losing in the future. But the loss of two years to COVID has certainly been difficult. But her vision remains unwavering, "I want to be the youngest grandmaster," she shares. Apart from chess and gymnastics, the seven dogs back at the family's farmhouse and making YouTube videos with them sparks joy for this force of a player.
Chess quotes from grandmasters:
- Viswanathan Anand: "In chess, knowledge is a very transient thing. It changes so fast that even a single mouse-slip sometimes changes the evaluation"
- Magnus Carlsen: "Some people think that if their opponent plays a beautiful game, it's okay to lose. I don't. You have to be merciless."
- Garry Kasparov: “Tactics is knowing what to do when there is something to do. Strategy is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do.”