Lucena in Lockdown #3: IM Raahil Mullick
12-year-old IM Raahil Mullick has mostly been on a uniformly positive rating change, and keeps improving by every tournament that finishes. Now, as lockdown approached, you may have expected a break, but Raahil continues to strive every day, giving it his all and pushing through it all! A very serious dedication and determination to keep going and improve at the game has kept Raahil preoccupied over the last month. The routine he follows is fascinating, and in this edition of Lucena in Lockdown, we take a look at an ideal daily routine - for chess players! Also, stick around for some wise words by Rupali, Raahil's mother, on what a chess player needs a lot of these days.
As this series was started, I wanted to talk to IM Raahil Mullick and see what he was up to, simply because I mostly see him out on the field and wanted to know how he was coping with the quarantine, and also because I know his family well. You may have also seen his mother Rupali appear in articles and interviews on ChessBase India. With this is mind, I found myself calling him for an interview. Honestly, I expected him to be more laid back as he’s always been busy with his work. His exams had finished on 6th of March and considering his most recent rating change at the Gibraltar had been positive, I had thought he would be taking a break.
Boy, was I wrong! Raahil is completely dedicated to his preparation and perfection. I mean 6-7 hours of work in a day is no easy feat in itself! I wasn’t sure what one could do for that long at a stretch when working on chess, but I got my answer quick enough; “I start the day by working on some positions for calculation, such as Perfect your Chess, Imagination in Chess and Recognizing your opponent’s resources, My system, etc. I’m attending online classes. For positional play etc. I also work on openings, and am completing some pending work from the Kramnik Gelfand camp in January. Of course, I attend the ChessBase India online tournaments too."
That’s a pretty serious routine if you ask me! And also, a very well suited one for this time. How does he manage to keep such a framework and schedule so well planned? And does he need help to stay concentrated? I think you know the answer to that already…
“Raahil is quite independent and he has never needed me to help him out,” says Rupali. “He’ll do it in his own stride. Ever since the beginning, it was not necessary for me to keep asking him to do something. Of course, there are days when he feels like doing chess and he does it diligently, and other times when he doesn’t feel like doing it and he ends up wasting some time watching random chess videos. Even when he does that, I don’t consider that to be a very 100% focused chess. I’ve completely let him decide what he needs to do, it’s his call now. Whatever it is, the ground rule is that from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00-6:30 p.m. in our house is time to be productive. After that he can relax a bit, by playing some board games, watching TV shows and in general just taking a break from the game.”
What about the parent's not going to tournaments with their children. Do they miss the competitive atmosphere?
“To be honest, I am really, really happy!” says Rupali. “I don’t have to go to tournament after tournament for a while now. Normally, getting a stretch of time for myself would have been very difficult but now I can focus on other things, apart from the usual ticket bookings, hotel bookings, Airbnb, tournament planning etc. I’m sure it is adversely affecting his chess however, because there is no proper playing practice happening; playing online doesn’t feel the same as playing on the board, at least for Raahil. He doesn’t like the blitz format too much, and visualizing on a laptop screen is hard for him. Plus, he often makes mistake with a wrong mouse click. I feel that he is not getting the best playing practice and he needs more of standard chess.”
What about the physical fitness? The Mullick family has a knack for sports, and this situation could not be more discouraging for going outdoors! Many chess players’ parents are unable to find a solution, as once again, some people prefer the outdoors more than the indoors.
“There is no fitness happening. We couldn’t let him go down to play because social distancing had already started long before the curfew. Ever since the lockdown, I have really been trying to look for something he can enjoy. I can easily switch on a YouTube video and get my workout done, but Raahil doesn’t like yoga and things like that because he finds it boring. It’s a struggle to look for something that he can do physically.”
Rupali’s concerns here have a perfect reason to exist, and most chess moms around are also worried about the physical front, which is reasonable. What can be done? Here are 5 ways to have a healthier life in lockdown!
A very underrated way to getting fitter is household chores. It may not seem so at first glance, but after you mop the house, do the laundry, wash the dishes and utensils, make the bed, you will notice an ache building up at the back. Now I’m no expert, but doing this continually is going to strengthen your muscles in some way. After the first ache, you do it again a day or two later and it keeps on nagging you until, eventually it becomes second nature. At that point, you’ve surely burnt a good amount of calories!
Physical exercise (which can be done at home)
Want to do exercise but can’t go outside because of a sweeping pandemic? Well what are you waiting for, it’s 2020! Switch on the YouTube video instructor, bring out the mat, towel, and Tupperware water bottles because it’s time to do some exercise! This is very easy to do, and only needs the willpower to start. Soon enough, by the end of the lockdown (or pandemic for some of you out there) you will be buff, enough to cause the Coronavirus to shrink in fear. And hey, don’t forget the Zumba Music!
Cleaning your house
Ever wanted to get around to sorting your stuff and throwing away what you don’t need? Ever wanted to pick up all your trophies, and polish them all to keep them as shiny as they were when you first got them? Well, what’s a better time to do it all than now? Quarantine has brought out the ability for us to focus on the tiny things which we couldn’t do before, because the world was still in motion. You can finally do that now, and reminisce where you got them as well!
Eating, except it’s only healthy!
It doesn’t have to be a very strict diet either. Already, due to a significant decrease in outside food, you are eating healthier than you did before. And why stop now? Cut some fruits, make some juice, add some ice, make it nice! It may sound painful to be able to eat only fruits, veggies, and other carbs, but you’re the one who benefits from it. Set the goal for some number of days, consult a guide if you wish, stay determined, and it will be over in the bat of an eye!
Good sleep. Stop binge watching!
Okay, everyone does this. There’s no denying, I do this too. But while it may be fun at the time to watch something the whole night, trust me, the suffering the next day is not worth it at all! Me personally, I just lose focus of what I am doing, and that’s not good when there are chores to complete, homework to solve, and articles to write! Instead, going about your day just as if it was a normal one proves more helpful than the former. And don’t forget to sneak in an extra hour of sleep!