J&K’s Chess champ Arushi Kotwal for making sports compulsory in schools

*Aims at becoming Grandmaster

Rajesh Dhar

JAMMU, July 30: Chess sensation of Jammu and Kashmir, Arushi Kotwal, apart from winning silver medal in 14th School International Chess Championship held in Sri Lanka recently, has the distinction of qualifying for the Under-16 World Chess Championship to be held at Pune in India next year. Hailing from a small village Chinta, Bhaderwah in J&K, has not only won an Individual silver, but a galaxy of team silver and bronze medals at the National and International scene. She also has the honour of being the youngest Sher-e-Kashmir Awardee and has also been nominated for the State Award in recognition to her outstanding achievements in the field of Chess.
In an exclusive interview with EXCELSIOR, the ace Chess player talked about her achievements and the sports scenario in J&K.
Q: In the present era, you see euphoria of cricket and football world over. Why did you choose Chess as your game?
A: I liked this game from the word go as it is like our family game, because my grandfather and father often used to play this game at home. My father bestowed me the tips at a very tender age and I started learning the game and playing it at State Level tournaments.
Q: You need mental toughness for excellence in every sport. And in Chess, you need to be very much tough mentally. What do you do to achieve it?
A: You know, in Chess you have to be very much quick in making moves and you have to make them in fraction of seconds. To do so, you ought to be mentally strong and at the same time highly patient as at times, games take four to five hours for completion. For that matter, intuition plays a key role in this sport. And the mantra to get intuition is to do yoga which involves meditation and concentration. You need to focus and apply with determination and devotion as application is the name of the game.
Q: At very young age (10th class) you have lot many achievements in your name. Tell us about your achievements?
A: Thinking of my achievements gives me ecstatic feeling. Apart from the recent achievements like winning an individual silver medal at School International Chess Championship in Sri Lanka and a decent performance in Commonwealth Chess Championship at Delhi in India, I feel privileged to get the National selectors nod for World Chess Championship to be held in India in 2019.  I also won medal in Asian School Chess Championship, way back in 2012 and a gold in South Asian Amateurs Under-13 category, besides receiving a cash award of Rs 50,000 from the then Chief Minister of the State. I am the youngest Sher-e-Kashmir Sports Awardee and State Awardee of Jammu and Kashmir.
Q: Who is your role model?
A: It is none other than Magnus Carlsen of Norway, who is so cool and serene and has his own way of playing. He has the distinction of being the youngest Grandmaster in Chess.
Q: It is always a blissful feeling to be named for highest sports award of the State. That too youngest. Please comment?
A: It is an amazing feeling if people recognize you as the youngest Sher-e-Kashmir Awardee of the State. One feels on top of the world when rated among the best. One needs to be passionate to achieve the sobriquet- ‘Champion’.
Q: J&K is striving hard to create a niche in the field of sports. What in your opinion should State Govt do to carve a space on the country’s sports map?
A: Sports and Physical Education should me made compulsory in the school curriculum from the primary level. Moreover, long-duration and qualitative coaching camps should be organized prior to National Level and even State level events, not to talk of the International events only. Classification and categorization of sports disciplines as per merit is the need of the hour.
Q: Being an ace Chess player, there is no-doubt that you are mentally tough. However, how do you manage to take sports and studies together?
A: Dedication, devotion, determination and passion makes you successful in every field. I have no time for any other thing when I play Chess and the same thing apply when I study. For being successful, you need to marry the thing you do-may it be sport, study or any other thing.
Q: Your favourite sportsperson?
A: It is again Magnus Carlsen.
Q: Any message for budding sportspersons of the State?
A: Never give-up and be passionate to achieve goals. Don’t be disheartened by the failures because failures are ladder to success, rather failures are part of success.
Q: To whom you attribute your success and what are your future plans?
A: I attribute my success to my father (Anil Kotwal), who serves as a beacon light and guides and goads me even in adverse conditions.
Now, as far as my future plans are concerned, I will leave no stone unturned in achieving my goal. My ultimate goal is to become Grandmaster in Chess.
Q: What is the role of J&K Amateur Chess Association in your success?
A: The Association is very supportive. The members of the Association pat me and felicitate me whenever I win.