Posted: Tuesday, Sep 05, 2017
Author: Interviewed by Catherine Farley

While most of us had our feet up relaxing during the long summer holiday, Ryu, a Year 10 student, was competing at the highest level in the 2017 National Youth Thai Chess Championships. We caught up with Ryu to learn more about the journey that led him to this significant achievement and find out what his goals are for the future.

 

Who taught you to play chess?

‘It was my third grade teacher who taught me the game because I was always finishing my work quickly and I had nothing to do, so she said ‘Come on let’s play chess!’

When I started I was not that serious I was playing for fun, however two years later when I moved to Harrow Bangkok I started to get serious, I had a personal chess trainer.

I also saw chess as something that could really improve my studies. After I started working with a trainer I spent a lot of time practising and learning new skills, techniques and tactics. It really helped me in school as well as in tournaments.

It has increased my problem solving skills across all my subjects'.

 

Ryu has just embarked on his GCSE courses and he is very clear that at this point in time his studies must take priority over his chess. Although it is a hobby for now Ryu knows that playing chess is what he really loves to do.

‘I play on line every day, in fact I played a match just this morning. Over the last couple of years, I have been able to go to lots of different tournaments because it did not affect my studies too much, however now, although there are so many interesting tournaments I could participate in, I have to say no because I must focus on my studies. Even so I am currently ranked number 2 in Thailand’s U18s. I have been regularly playing the current number 1 and our matches always result in a draw… however somehow he is ahead of me.’ (He smiles)

 

Do you need to do any special preparation for the tournament?

'Play practise games, but not worry too much about it, have time with friends and chill out. Exercise is really important because if you are not fit then you will not be physically able to sit for many hours. I go running in the park – I think running is the best. Chess games can last up to 4 or 5 hours so you have to be physically as well as mentally strong.'

 

It sounds as though you rarely lose, if occasionally you do lose, how do you cope with that?

'Actually that happened 2 or 3 weeks ago, and it was at the end of a long tournament and we were both really tired, in the previous 5 matches we had drawn. When I lost the final match I had to take a moment to get myself back together. There is so much pressure – the time on the clock, the seconds ticking down, full concentration is required. However, at the end of it all my opponent and I are friends- best friends actually.'

 
Future ambitions?

'I would like to become Thailand Junior Champion, so far my best performance was third. I hope someday soon I will acquire the chess title of Master, I think I am really close to it right now- currently on 1800 points and classified as Class A, strong player. Normal masters are on around 2200 points so I am not far away.'

 

Ryu has his eyes on The Thailand Junior Chess Tournament in March of next year.

The champion and first runner up will earn a spot at the Chess Olympiad qualifications in May where 10 players will compete for a chance to represent Thailand in the chess equivalent of The Olympics which is held every two years.

The next one will be held in Georgia in September 2018.

 

Last updated: 01 Nov 2017 08:16