Chess is a game of patience and concentration. On a competition level, progress can not take place overnight. However, this girl from Vizag is taking rapid strides in the chess world and is consistently making us proud. At the tender age of 8 years, Alana Meenakshi Kolagatla won gold medals at the Asian Youth Championships 2019 held in Sri Lanka. She followed it up, in the same year, with two more gold medals at the Western Asian Youth & Junior Chess Championship at New Delhi.
And now, she has again made Vizag proud by winning in the U-10 girls category at the All India Chess Federation National Online Championship 2021. At the tournament, Meenakshi played 11 rounds of chess, out of which she won 10 and drew the final round. By leading in points, she won the gold medal.
Yo! Vizag got in touch with her mother, Dr. Aparna, to talk about Meenakshi winning at the National Championship, the practice behind the achievement and her goals for the future.
Meenakshi was the only gold medal winner at the event from Andhra Pradesh. She also participated in the U-12 girls category and was in the Top 10. But this event presented a unique challenge for Alana Meenakshi, as it was conducted online due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. “The shift from onboard chess to online chess was a difficult one to adapt to. She had been playing onboard for her entire life. But the Andhra Pradesh Chess Association helped her in acclimatising with online chess by setting up online matches with international chess masters.”
As far as the contributors behind Meenakshi’s success go, Dr. Aparna shared, “Her chess idols are Hungarian Judit Polgar and Soviet player Mikhail Tal. Polgar’s journey, in particular, inspires Meenakshi as she used to dominate at men’s chess tournaments. Meenakshi doesn’t believe her success to be hers alone. There have been many support elements in her journey to achieving so much in the chess arena. From her personal coach to her playing partners, she has many to thank for her achievements.”
While the whole country grappled with the Covid-19 pandemic, young Alana Meenakshi also faced some difficulties. She had to take online chess classes by Chennai’s Chess Gurukul while also attending her school classes whenever she could. In a day, she was doing about 6 hours of chess practice. Staying on a computer screen for that long was causing her mental fatigue and strain on the eyes. But all her hard work and struggles bore fruit when she won the gold medal at the National Championship. Not just that, she has also been selected to represent India at the World Cadet Chess Championship, set to take place in August 2021.
Talking about Meenakshi’s future ambitions, Dr. Aparna shared, “At present, she is going to participate in 4 Open Tournaments at Serbia from 15 July, as part of the European chess circuit. She will be taking on chess players from all age groups in these tournaments. Her aim is to hone her skill and improve her international rating by participating in these tournaments. Other than that, she also has the World Cadet Chess Championship, beginning from 16 August. Her aim is to become a chess grandmaster and along the way, encourage more girls to take up chess.
One thing’s for certain though- this chess prodigy is going to rock the chess world and continue making Vizag proud.