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Off the Board Tales #16 - Himanshu Kumar

by Avathanshu Bhat - 06/11/2021

'Off the Board Tales' is a series by ChessBase India, where the premise revolves around people who are passionate about chess despite it not being their career. An emotional and short story is what you're up for, so read on for tales of joy, tales of aspirations, tales of sorrows, and tales of success. Himanshu Kumar is the President of Strategy and Key Initiatives at ValueFirst. He played chess competitively till 2004, before pursuing his education. He still plays online and is in touch with the chess world.

Chess and its benefits at the corporate level

Himanshu experienced what a lot of chess players, unfortunately, face: the dip in performance. He decided to cut his losses and move on, which worked in his favor.

At the age of 18, after having played chess for 14 years, I was contemplating leaving the game. My former playing strength had stagnated, I had stopped appearing for tournaments, and at the very least had tried to teach chess. After a year, I quit coaching and pursued my education. I am now working at a corporate level as a result of my experiences. I’m happy with where I am, but sometimes I look at the portraits on my wall of my playing days and think about what could’ve been.

Being around people like Anand kept Himanshu going for a long time. He cherishes them daily by framing them on his wall.

I learned chess from many different coaches and traveled abroad to many countries for tournaments. It was a grind that I enjoyed thoroughly, and my peak strength was a reputable one of 2076 ELO. I played against many respectable players and was able to beat them too. However, I had always felt under-confident over the board, and I lacked the killer instinct that a chess player must have to do well. I also realized that unless you are truly a good player and can get sponsors, it’s very hard to financially sustain playing the game. I never wanted that to be the case and was rethinking my chess career. I couldn’t play chess as well as I did before though, and that pretty much put an end to my competitive chess, which I moved on from not long after.

Simple tricks like staying calm under pressure came to great use for Himanshu in his future job.

However, its influence has been present on me for so much of my life. Chess is a core part of me, my first love. I tell as many people as I can about its benefits, play the game whenever I find time, and actively follow chess news. Chess especially helped my sister, who took it very seriously which got her into a sports quota and college. My only message for players looking to play chess is to not let the pressure get to them. If you really want to pursue chess, you have to make sure you can mentally and financially handle it. While I loved playing chess competitively, I eventually quit when I had to. Now, I’m so much happier, just like when I was still learning the game.

Sometimes, it's not always the end that matters but the journey and learning from the experiences instead.


About the Author:

Avathanshu Bhat is a 16-year-old from Mumbai. He is the Editor-in-Chief for ChessBase India Juniors and Manager for ChessBase India's Elite Pass. He recently began a new series called 'Off the Board Tales' on ChessBase India's social media pages. He is a voracious reader, a Nolan film enthusiast, and is passionate about everything tech and games.