My very unusual life!
February 16, 2011 • General
Greetings to the world from Memphis, Tennessee on this fine Wednesday evening! I have not blogged in a bit and as I have some free time right now, I thought I would add a blog entry about what has been happening in this crazy chess life which I lead!
Coming off of my victory in Wijk aan Zee, I spent several days back home in New York with my parents who deserve more recognition than anyone else for all of their tremendous support over the years. Many times, my stepfather, Sunil Weeramantry has made comments such as “I hope you become a GM before I die”, or “I hope I get to see you play in Monaco.” After winning such a strong tournament, I can only hope to fulfill the one last unachievable goal in his lifetime of becoming World Champion! So, once again, I can never do them justice, but I will always say thanks for everything!
After arriving back in Saint Louis, I came back to the unfortunate reality that there was a lot of work to be done as I had to annotate games for New In Chess and Europe Echecs. There were also several interviews I did for 64, Chessbase and The New York Times. Most readers will probably notice there is a glaring lack of American publications listed above. It is simply a fact that American chess still has a long ways to go before it starts garnering widespread media attention. However, I hope that as I continue to go forward and chase the ultimate my goal things will eventually change. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t, but it is something that us American chessplayers can certainly hope for.
I have also been involved in the organizational aspect of my speech&simul at Washington University in Saint Louis which will be happening on February 26th which is being made possible by the Washington University Chess Club in association with the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. This is certainly an exciting event and I look forward to it.
Before I get to all the excitement of this week, I thought that now would be an opportune time to discuss my withdrawal from the 2011 US Chess Championship. I first competed in the US Championship way back in 2003, and I have had some of my most memorable moments and experiences during these very special and prestigious events. Going forwards towards my goal of becoming World Champion, it simply does not make sense to take a step backwards and compete in events which do not help me towards accomplishing this goal. I wish GMs Kamsky, Onischuk and Shulman the best of luck in the upcoming tournament which will once again be held in Saint Louis.
This past Monday evening, I got in my lovely 1998 Honda Accord (120,000 miles and still going strong) and drove down to Memphis, Tennessee. Memphis has always had a very special place in my heart as some of my best friends and contacts live here. It has always been very relaxing to have a few drinks on Beale Street (I would recommend Silky’s, BB King’s) and catch some good jazz music or take in a show at the Orpheum. However, unlike past trips, this week has been something special as I received the key to the city to Memphis yesterday down at city hall. After this, I proceeded down to the Peabody Hotel to have a cocktail while taking in the world famous Peabody Duck March. Amidst all of this hoopla, I went down to the FedEx Forum to catch a basketball game between the Memphis Grizzlies (Why can’t they move back to Vancouver??) and the Philadelphia 76ers. I have nothing else planned over the next two days, so I will probably spend some time enjoying downtime and studying a little chess! On Friday, I am giving a simul at city hall against the council members and perhaps the mayor will even show up! Saturday promises to be quite busy as I will be appearing on the Saturday morning news with Kontji Anthony on WMCTV 5. On Sunday, I am making an appearance at UMemphis for a local chess event. A very busy week, but promoting chess is very important!
To paraphrase a very famous Gandhi quote, Be the change you want to see in the chess world!
That is all for now, but I hope everyone enjoys the blog and the few pictures I am attaching below. There will be a bigger report on www.uschess.org once all the great promotional activities of this week have concluded.
A nice folder!
A nice piece of paper which makes me feel like I am doing something important with chess!
The key to the city. A true honor!
Glad to see you enjoy visiting the state of my birth! I share your desire to see chess become more popular in the US and maybe you’re just the guy to get it done. I’ll be following your career and cheering for you along the way.
Congrats on the big victory and good luck,
p.s. As you enjoy your cocktails be sure to avoid the Tequila, you’ll need all your brain cells.
That is a huge honor to receive the key to the city. I’m hoping you have continued success at chess. It’s such a great game.
Congratulations on your recent successes! I was wondering if you could elaborate further on your US Championship decision, as you mentioned that it didn’t help you accomplish your goal of a World Champion title, but you never really explained WHY this was so. What makes it a step backwards? Thanks!
Naka I’ve been following you since i first saw you at 14(maybe younger??!) in Chess Life magazine as a young(my age) and up in commer to watch out for! Always thought if you decided to Fully dedicate yourself to just chess, that you had the potential of greatness and more!
You just keep on keeping on! the only grandmaster i know that constantly responds to his supporters even us small ones! You dont need luck, but best of luck to you anyway ^_^
I am actually glad you decided not to participate in the US championship. As much as I want to see you play in it, I want even more for you to reach for the world title. As such, I think it was a good decision to focus on that goal instead. You’ve already proven everything you can in the States, now it’s time to take the world crown!
This is a question waiting for an answer, for me, since I was in grade school (elementary school, in Italy), and hopefully you can finally give the answer:
what lock does the “key to the city” open?
Thanks for this blog and for your inspiring games of chess. Keep going!
hey i wanted to get your thoughts on why chess isnt televised on ESPN because it would be exciting to see a WCC match or a SUPER-GM tournamnet televised in america. I understand the average person thinks its boring and they dont understand it but its not complicated to a point where it cant be shown on TV. there needs to be someone to show them you dont need to be a rocket scientist know how the pieces move and what the object of the game is. and for the people that think its too boring too watch they obviously dont know about the up and coming superstars in you and several other 2700+ players.
Thank you for this blog update. Congrats for the city key. We fans certainly understand you have had much experience competing for many previous US Championships, and fully support your decision to leave it to some other GM’s to compete for right now. It is great to hear your appreciation for your family, which will be there with you all the way as you study chess more and think about your run to a World Championship. If it’s one thing winning your latest tournament proves, it’s that you have the goods. The world #1, #2, #3, and #4 were all in that tourney and you had a better score than all of them after 13 rounds. Extremely impressive. Enjoy your activities, we think about you, our fellow American, and wish you the best. The world, not just America, will be enriched by your efforts in chess. It’s a noble game.
Phenomenal achievement at Tata; big congrats. Well done, sir.
Your chess fans always knew that you had the talent, brains, and determination and now you are coming closer and closer to your true potential. Dream, Plan, then Be the World Champ.
Even bigger congrats to your maturation as a Gentleman.
1) You still think of and cater to your fans; 2) You show great love and respect to your parents while being grateful to your 2nd Kris Littlejohn, your supporters and the chess organizers; and ….. 3) Amazing Humility (I can’t believe how much of a people’s champ you are becoming; kind of like Manny Pacquiao even with his amazing accomplishments). Round after round when you were interviewed, you did not brag about your lead at Tata but kept saying that it was a long tournament and that you were pleased with your efforts. Even when you won, you did not gloat or act pompous. Yet you are not a dispassionate machine; you maintain your fire and excitement for the game and the competition as evidenced by your Tweet of, “YES!!!!!!!!”
Lastly, any other world class competitor or celebrity who takes pride in maintaining his 1998 Honda with over 120,000 miles shows that you are down-to-earth, approachable and fun (not like some weird egotistical celebrities or prideful rich persons or politicians).
I’d be happy to buy you a drink any time. I know of some great beers, single malt Scotches, Eastern European vodkas.
Thanks also for promoting chess in the US and encouraging our youth.
Best of luck to you in your ultimate goal and God Bless!
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I was the chess consultant from Endgame and I appreciate the shoutouts. When we were working on the season finale, episode 113, you had just placed 1st in Tata Steel. As a result, every game that was featured in that episode were positions from your games in that tournament 🙂
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