Tuesday , 17 September 2019
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At 7, Ethan aims to be youngest GM of chess in India

AUGUSTO RODRIGUES |NT

Panaji

Ethan Vaz carries the attributes of a seven year old boy and with them he tags along a liking for the game of chess. He likes studying; he likes playing other games in school; he likes his mama’s fried rice; and he does not like sitting in one place. Yet when it comes to chess, the game appears to awaken another kid in him. 

“I want to be a chess player,” says this seven year old lad from Raia. At an age when most kids would be jumping and running around, Ethan goes to a Chess Academy from 4.00 pm to 8.00 pm every day. He attends school in the morning till half past two and falls asleep by 11.00 pm. A tough routine for a kid but his parents believe their son is enjoying because he loves the game.

“I think my son has got the extra edge in chess than in other sports. He plays other games but he spends more time playing chess and it does not tire him. At this moment it looks like chess is more promising for him,” says Edwin Vaz, Ethan’s father who spends around hundred days of the year helping his son improve his Elo ratings.

Ethan won his first tournament when he was six. He stood 13th in the U-7 national Chess Championship in Tumkur in Karnataka and has ever since been on the podiums of numerous others including finishing second in the 1st Goa international Open Grandmaster Chess tournament in 2018 in Bambolim.

“One day he lost a game to his brother and since that time he seemed engrossed in learning the intricacies of chess. We used to see him making some moves on the chess board all by himself. What he was doing appeared strange but we left him to do what we thought he was enjoying and that interest has drawn in him,” said Linda, Ethans mother whilst explaining that her son has the choice to play the game he wants.

“We do not compromise on his studies. His studies are based on reason and simple logic. There is no compulsion on him to learn anything by-heart. As long as he is enjoying his chess, I have no problem,” says Linda whilst explaining the role studies has with her son.

“It takes me around two hours to finish a game or more. I want to be a chess champion but before that I want to be a Grandmaster. It will not take me a few years,” says Ethan who has 1398 Elo points at the moment. At 12 years, 10 months and 13 days, India’s R Praggnanandhaa from Chennai made history by becoming the second youngest chess grandmaster in the world after making it to the final round at the Gredine Open in Italy.

“Maths is my favourite subject because it is easy and my favourite teacher in school is teacher Ashwin who teaches me Maths,” says Ethan as he bobs on the chair as his parents take centre stage of his interview.

Chess picked up as a sport in India after Vishwanathan Anand set the markers. It is turning into an industry with academies mushrooming and yet none have been able to achieve what Anand has. There is still a long way to go and Ethan’s parents are not perturbed.

“We are giving him the platform because we have seen something in him. If he does not go the distance, we will not worry,” admits his father Edwin. Ethan is too young to worry and as long as he can enjoy, he intends to make the best of his childhood with a little bit of
everything.

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