10 questions with Shreyas Royal

What did you do when you were 14 years old?

If you answered that you were on your way to becoming a world chess champion, then you have something in common with Shreyas Royal.

He has been playing chess since he was six years old and is so good that the UK granted him and his family visas to stay in the country so they could continue playing chess. At the age of 12 he beat his first Grandmaster and became the youngest FIDE Master in UK history (currently he is one notch above, in International Master).

So, yes, he’s going full speed towards his ultimate goal: becoming a world champion before he turns 21.

“If not, I’ll settle for being one of the top 10 chess players,” he says.

Let’s get to know Shreyas better. Also, check out the second episode of the Olympic Esports Series Original Series, Outside The Game, featuring Shreyas and his father.

Shreyas Royal Opens Up About His Love For Chess And His Dream Opponent

What is it about chess that makes you come back to the board to play?

It is a very fascinating game in which I feel that I have a lot to learn. I’ve gotten so used to enjoying it that I don’t even know why I enjoy it!

If you achieve your goal of becoming world chess champion before you turn 21, you would be the youngest world champion ever. Can you remember when you set this goal for yourself and what prompted you to do it?

I remember pinning it when I was about seven years old. I admit that I was very optimistic, but I proposed it as a starting point to continue working and improving in chess. Today, a more realistic and mature me, I would settle for being a consistent top 10 chess player, going forward.

Can you tell us about your first chess memory?

I remember playing a game with my father, one of my first games, and I remember putting the king and queen on the wrong squares without my father noticing. I captured his king late in the game when he was checkmated, but capturing the king is illegal.

What kind of preparation do you carry out when you face highly qualified opponents?

I try to see what kind of positions he struggles in, determining his strengths and weaknesses. I check what openings he’s struggled against in the past and I also look at some of his stats, how he’s fared against weaker opponents. Looking for any kind of advantage with White and equality with Black outside the opening are also vital goals.

Do you have any specific memories of a competition that have stuck with you? Perhaps a winning moment or a match you wish you had another chance at?

The most memorable of my vivid memories was at the 2017 European Youth Under-8 Chess Championship. I had achieved joint first place, which in itself was very impressive, and I remember standing on the huge stage with my hands overloaded. holding a huge trophy in one hand and holding a bunch of stationery and cash in the other. All this while they wrapped me with an English flag in front of the audience that cheered me and got excited. My muscles were tired at the end of that memorable night, but it was all worth it, since it must have been items worth more than 1,000 euros.

Because of your chess skills, the UK granted you and your family a visa to stay in the country. What did you think when you were granted the visa and how has it influenced your career?

My father received a call at the beginning of August 10, 2018, a month before we left the UK. When he ended the call, my father had a huge smile on his face. He informed us of the brilliant news that he had just received from the Ministry of the Interior. By then we had already given up all hope, so it was a very pleasant surprise. We were all delighted that all the efforts of the people who had helped us had finally paid off. This meant that I could continue my career in the country that had discovered and expanded my chess talent. I had also been brought up in this country and was so used to the environment and people that I am grateful that this did not have to change either.

Many teenagers do not master chess. What other interests or hobbies do you practice when you are not playing chess? Is there a show, book or video game that you like?

I like some sports, particularly football and cricket. I usually read books on my travels and I would say my favorite is the Alex Rider series. I’m not a big fan of video games, but I like to watch YouTube videos and movies.

Are there moments during a match when you know you have an advantage over an opponent, or that they have an advantage over you? How do you use your advantage or recover from a mistake?

This happens quite often. I try to stay as calm as possible when I have the decisive advantage and try to be an executioner by being as ruthless as possible when it comes to finishing off the opponent. When my adversary has an advantage, I try to pose problems and induce more risks and dilemmas.

You were able to make the opening move for Magnus Carlson, your favorite chess player. It was Pawn to D4, and you mentioned that it’s your favorite opening move. Because?

I was lucky enough to make the ceremonial first move twice for Magnus, first at the prestigious London Chess Classic and second at the 2018 World Chess Championship match which also took place in London. Both times he called for 1.d4 to be played. 1.d4 was the first opening I learned as White, starting at the age of six, and I still try it quite often. As a kid I played 1.d4 because that’s what I was taught, and I still play it because it leads to a wide variety of types of pawn positions and structures, which is very instructive for a chess player to understand.

Speaking of Magnus Carlsen, if you could play against any other player in the world, who would you play against and why?

It would be an honor to play against many players from the past, like Garry Kasparov, Bobby Fischer or Anatoly Karpov. As for active players, I would love to play against any 2700 strong GM.

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