I started playing chess in 1993 when I was seven years old. I was introduced to the game by my father and uncle. They used to play at home and Id observe their game intently. Back then, I also loved playing table tennis. It was only when I became a national champion in chess that I realised how much I loved the game. That was a turning point for me.
I grew up in Chakradharpur in Jharkhand, which did not offer a lot of opportunities. Many a time, I would hear about some tournament only after it was over. So after Plus II from R.P.S. College, I took admission in St Xaviers College in Calcutta.
My childhood was fun. I used to miss school a lot as I had to travel for chess matches and my friends did my homework. My teachers gave me extra classes when I returned. My best friend did a lot of my projects. He would finish my work before his own! I am still in touch with many of those friends. Life was tough. Sometimes, Id revise the whole night on the train back home and sit for an exam the next day. I would never have managed studies without my fathers help. I was a good student. Chess helps one even in studies as it teaches you to strategise.
As far as extra curricular activities go, I had enrolled for Indian dance classes in school but that was a hilarious experience. I cant dance even today.
I was a naughty kid. My elder brother often beat me in scuffles but I screamed so much that he always got a scolding. I was very fond of my grandparents. Once, I was travelling back home after a match and my parents were not with me. When the train stopped at Tatanagar station, I had a fight with a friend and went off in a huff to my grandparents, who lived near the station. Imagine the condition of those who were responsible for me, when I could not be found. They missed their train, frantically looking for me. Only when my friends father called up to apologise to my mother, did she manage to tell them I was safe. That poor boy who got the scolding of his lifetime still refuses to mess with me!
My message to kids is have a target in life and go for it. Hard work will get you to the finish line.