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Published On . Sept. 7, 2023 . By Srikanth Bangalore

A Chess Journey: FM Sandeep Sethuraman's Rise to Success

A Chess Journey: FM Sandeep Sethuraman's Rise to Success

Welcome to the 1000 GM Player Profiles series! Today, we have the privilege of interviewing the exceptional talent, Fide Master Sandeep Sethuraman. Sandeep recently achieved his Fide Master title and has been making waves in the chess world. In this blog, we will delve into Sandeep's chess journey, his thoughts on the mission of 1000 GM, his experiences with norm tournaments, and his perspective on systemic discrimination in chess.


Coach Q: What do you think of the mission of 1000 GM as you understand it, to produce a high number of Norm tournaments and a significant number of Grandmasters and International Masters in the United States? 

Sandeep: I think the mission of 1000 GM is fantastic. It's great to see an organization dedicated to producing strong players in the United States. Historically, the United States hasn't been as strong in chess, but in recent years, we have been improving. For norm players like me, having access to free tournaments is a game-changer. Most norm tournaments require a significant entry fee, and the additional expenses for travel and accommodation can be quite high. So, having free tournaments like the ones organized by 1000 GM is a wonderful opportunity.

Coach Q: How much money have you spent overall playing norm events, and how many norm tournaments have you participated in? 

Sandeep: Estimating the total amount of money spent on norm events is challenging, but it's safe to say that it's in the tens of thousands of dollars. Norm tournaments usually have entry fees of around $850, and when you factor in travel and hotel expenses, it adds up quickly. As for the number of norm tournaments I've played, I've participated in around five or six so far.

Coach Q: Have you achieved any norms in the tournaments you've played? 

Sandeep: Yes, I have achieved one norm so far, which is the IM norm. In one particular tournament, I came very close to securing more norms, missing out by just half a point. But I'm confident that I will achieve more norms in the future.

Coach Q: How important are the playing conditions at these tournaments, and how do you handle them? 

Sandeep: The playing conditions at most of the tournaments I've attended have been fine. As for me, I'm not too picky about playing conditions. I focus more on the game itself and try to give my best performance. So, I'm generally satisfied with the playing conditions provided at the tournaments.

Coach Q: Do you think there is systemic discrimination in chess towards financially privileged players, given the high costs associated with norm tournaments? 

Sandeep: Yes, there is definitely systemic discrimination in chess towards financially privileged players. I consider myself lucky to have parents who can support me financially in pursuing my chess career. Without their support, I wouldn't be able to travel and participate in these tournaments. It's a significant advantage to have the means to bear the costs associated with norm tournaments. For those who cannot afford it, their opportunities to compete and progress in chess are severely limited.

Coach Q: Sandeep, what are your thoughts on the mission of 1000 GM? How do you understand their goal to produce a high number of grandmasters and international masters in the United States?

Sandeep: I believe it's a fantastic initiative. Having a large number of strong players in the United States is crucial for the growth and development of chess in the country. The mission of 1000 GM provides opportunities for aspiring players like me to participate in free norm tournaments, which can be financially challenging otherwise. It's a great way to support talented players and foster the growth of chess in the United States.

Coach Q: That's understandable, Sandeep. The financial burden of participating in norm tournaments can be quite challenging, especially for players who come from modest backgrounds. I'm glad that 1000 GM provides an opportunity for players like you to compete in free norm tournaments. It truly levels the playing field and allows talent to shine regardless of financial constraints. 

Sandeep: I'm curious to know how you feel about the mission of 1000 GM, which is to produce a high number of Grandmasters and International Masters in the United States. What are your thoughts on this mission?

Sandeep: I think the mission of 1000 GM is commendable. Having a high number of strong players in the United States is beneficial for the overall chess community. It creates a competitive environment and fosters growth and development. Historically, the United States may not have been as strong in chess, but in recent years, we have seen significant improvement. Initiatives like 1000 GM play a crucial role in nurturing talent and providing opportunities for players to achieve their potential. Additionally, the focus on producing more Grandmasters and International Masters is important as it elevates the overall level of play in the country and encourages aspiring players to strive for excellence.

Coach Q: That's a great perspective, Sandeep. It's wonderful to see the progress and growth of chess in the United States, and initiatives like 1000 GM contribute to this positive trend. Providing opportunities for players to pursue their chess goals and aspirations is key to fostering a thriving chess community.

Now, let's talk about your personal journey. Can you share when and how you first got into chess? What sparked your interest in the game?

Sandeep: I started playing chess around the age of seven. It was actually my parents who introduced me to the game. They used to play chess themselves, and I became curious about it. I remember my grandmother visiting us and teaching me the rules of chess during her stay. From that moment, I developed a fascination for the game and started playing regularly. It was a family affair, and I enjoyed the intellectual challenges and strategic thinking involved in chess.

Coach Q: That's fantastic, Sandeep. It's wonderful to hear that your family played a significant role in sparking your interest in chess. Having a supportive environment can make a big difference in nurturing a passion for the game.

As you've progressed in your chess journey, Sandeep, have you faced any challenges or setbacks along the way? If so, how did you overcome them?

Sandeep: Yes, like any other chess player, I have faced my fair share of challenges and setbacks. One of the major challenges has been the financial aspect of participating in tournaments, as we discussed earlier. The costs associated with travel, accommodation, and entry fees can add up quickly, and it has sometimes been a hurdle for me. However, I have been fortunate to receive support from my family and also explore opportunities like the free norm tournaments offered by 1000 GM. Overcoming these challenges required perseverance, determination, and finding alternative solutions to finance my chess pursuits. It has taught me valuable lessons about resourcefulness and the importance of making the most of available opportunities.

Coach Q: That's commendable, Sandeep. It's inspiring to see how you have navigated through the challenges and remained dedicated to your chess journey. Your resourcefulness and determination are qualities that will continue to serve you well in your future endeavors. Keep pushing forward and pursuing your dreams.

Sandeep: Thank you!

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