BASIS Chandler junior a prodigy on the chessboard

By Egan Adler
Cronkite News

At the end of each match, Sandeep Sethuraman looks his opponent in the eye and mutters one word: checkmate.

“The expectation is 36-0 every year. To win every game I play in the year. The goal is to win the state championship again,” said Sethuraman, a 15-year-old chess player. year-old world-ranked who is a junior at BASIS Chandler.”There are five boards and we need three out of five every game to win.”

The high school student grew up in the world of chess ever since he started playing when his grandmother taught him the rules when he was young. By the middle of the seventh year, Sethuraman had qualified as a National Master and in 2021 he achieved the title of FIDE Master.

He currently ranks 2,532 out of all active players worldwide, according to the International Chess Federation.

These titles, which take years to earn, are decided in national and international tournaments and follow the Elo system, the most commonly used rating system in chess. The system divides international chess players into number categories starting with Novice and continuing through Super Grandmaster, the unofficial title for players with a rating above 2700.

Sethuraman currently sits at 2371 – just 29 points below the title of International Master, according to the Elo system.

“I am pushing to become an international Master. I have two of the three required standards and am at 2370-ish and need to reach 2400 to become an International Masters. I hope to become one by the end of this school year,” Sethuraman said.

However, his quest for chess supremacy will not detract from his commitment to the BASIS Chandler team. During last year’s AIA season, Sethuraman swept the singles competition while defeating the championship’s highest-ranked player, Brophy’s Mason Miller, to win the state championship for BASIS Chandler.

A year later, Sethuraman’s role is both captain and coach for his teammates. He got so good that even his trainer, Radhika Guruju, realized she didn’t have much to teach him. Instead, Guruju aids his superstar in the mental side of the game.

“Chess is a very mental game. Teams can intimidate you, opponents can intimidate you, so (you) don’t want to watch them too much and listen to their stupid talk,” Guruju said. of your game the most important game of the day.”

With Sethuraman set to lead the BASIS Chandler team for the next two seasons, anything less than a state championship would be a disappointment. However, Guruju is used to high expectations. After gaining approval to join the AIA, she is the only coach the BASIS team has ever known and has never finished below the top five since the program’s inaugural season.

“We feel the pressure because you win so many years and you have this reputation and expectation to win again,” Guruju said. “I tell my team to play the board, not to play the person sitting across from you, the team across from you.

“Make your game the most fun game for you, so that you don’t focus on a teammate’s game. From the moment you enter a tournament until the moment you leave it, you have to stay focused.

Matt FritzMiller, Principal of BASIS Chandler, took a step back as he watched his chess program grow into one of the best in the state.

“What I do is I don’t hold them back. I let them do what they need. They are such talented and amazing chess players, and years ago they wanted to join the AIA so we let them, and it went really, really well,” FritzMiller said. “The best thing I can do for them is to let them do their job and support them in any way I can.

Sethuraman is ready to take another step in the international chess world. He plans to bypass the individual state tournament in November to focus on the US Masters tournament in Charlotte over Thanksgiving weekend, where a successful performance will put him on the path to the International Masters ranking.

He also used chess to give back to the community by founding The Chess Effect, a non-profit organization designed to teach underprivileged children chess. Through his efforts, he had raised $900 for Arizona Helping Hands, an organization focused on providing essential services to children in foster care.

The chess prodigy has no doubt that the sport will continue to play an important role in his life. Nevertheless, he knows that this is only one of the many paths his future holds for him.

“I will try to get the Grandmaster title,” said Sethuraman. “I want to continue playing chess for the rest of my life and even though I want to go to university and may not be able to devote the same amount of time to it, I still want to be a player and/or a coach.”

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