Chess, the only pastime for Shubhi and her family

Carrom was Shubhi Gupta’s first love when she was just three. Thereafter, she started playing ludo. Within a few months, she shifted her attention to chess, a common passion for her family of four, including father, mother and elder brother.

In fact, it was her father Pradeep Gupta, who introduced the family to chess. The passion is such that the family hardly watches TV or spends time on social sites.

Shubhi’s back-to-back international medals this year, including a gold medal in the under-12 category at the Commonwealth Youth Chess Championship in Sri Lanka this week, are a reflection of her love for the sport. The 11-year-old Shubhi, who comes from Ghaziabad, scored a perfect 9/9 in this tournament.

This September, Shubhi won the under-12 title at the World Cadet Chess Championship in Batumi, Georgia.

“That was my first big event after winning the national title in April this year, so I made sure that I should go back home with a medal and it happened according to my plan,” Shubhi said.

“I never tried any other sport than carrom, ludo and a bit of table tennis before opting for chess. I love solving puzzles,” said Shubhi, who also had three silver medals in standard, rapid and blitz categories at the Western Asian Youth Chess Championship in Maldives this June.

Shubhi, who won the National Amateur U-2000 Women’s Chess Championship in May 2022, after capturing a bronze in the Sub-Junior Chess Championship in March, also won a silver medal at the Asian Schools Chess Championship in the U-11 category at the Philippines in July 2021.

“I haven’t watched TV for two years and I am focusing only on chess. It is the only thing on my mind right now. I am aiming for the women’s GM norms in three years’ time from now as the titles in the Worlds and Commonwealth Youth events have boosted my confidence,” said Shubhi, who is being trained by Prasenjit Dutta.

Shubhi’s mother, Urmila Gupta, travels with her to as many events as she can across the world.

“She (Urmila) learned chess only after getting married to me and thereafter the sport became the biggest love of the family. Now, Urmila teaches Shubhi about the game when she travels with her for events,” said Pradeep.

“In fact, during the lockdown, Shubhi trained by playing against all of us at home. We all play chess at home and only recently I have given mobile phones to my kids. Otherwise, they had chess as the only entertainment,” Gupta said.

He describes Shubhi as calm and composed. “She (Shubhi) always remains calm and composed and that’s her strength in sport. At the start of her career, she looked a bit hassled, but as time progressed, she gained maturity in her game, and now she is altogether a different player,” Pradeep added.


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