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Karate helped me concentrate: Surya

Calcutta, Nov. 16: The city’s second and India’s eighth Grandmaster Surya Sekhar Ganguly was felicitated jointly by The Telegraph and Alekhine Chess Club on Saturday in the presence of a galaxy of stars from all over Bengal.

Present to acknowledge the feat of the 19-year-old, only the second GM from Bengal after Dibyendu Barua who achieved the title 11 years ago, were former stars like Gurbux Singh, P.K. Banerjee, Sailen Manna, Chuni Goswami, Jyotirmoyee Sikdar and Vece Paes. Barua led the current crop, which included Bula Choudhury, Mohammed Ali Qamar and Saraswati Saha.

Alekhine Chess Club president Ashok Ghosh praised The Telegraph for its contribution to the game for the last 15 years. Surya is a product of The Telegraph Schools’ Chess.

A visibly-moved Surya said that the rousing reception he received in the city would spur him to achieve higher goals. “Grandmaster title is only the second step towards my success, the first being the IM. I started playing at the age of five and my mother has been my greatest influence.”

Remembering the financial hardships that his family went through, the newly-crowned GM urged more sponsors to come forward. “We had to sell our house and my mother even had to borrow from a kabuliwallah.”

Surya explained his lean phase in the late 90s was a result, mainly, of lack of concentration. “I started to take lessons in karate and that helped strengthen my nerves and concentrate better.”

To budding chess players Surya’s message was: “Don’t run after success. Just love chess — success will follow.”

Surya’s achievements also came in for fulsome praise from Bengal’s first GM. Barua said he had never come across anyone as diligent as Surya. “Memory and perseverance are his greatest virtues. I want to see him cross 2770 Elo ratings.”

However, Barua felt that there’s a lot of untapped talent in the state, especially in the suburbs. “Now that two Grandmasters have emerged from the state, I hope the scenario will improve,” Barua said.

Incidentally, mayor Subrata Mukherjee and Bengal sports minister Subhas Chakraborty, who were to have been present, failed to turn up.

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