Yuzvendra Chahal was once an International Master (IM) in Chess and is a former national Under-12 chess champion having had the distinction of having represented the country at the World Youth Chess Championships. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Yuzvendra Chahal is one of the rare Indian sporting personalities who have secured a fair bit of success in two sports. Not only is he one of the key legspinners in Virat Kohli's Indian cricket team, Yuzvendra Chahal was once an International Master (IM) in Chess and is a former national Under-12 chess champion having had the distinction of having represented the country at the World Youth Chess Championships. The Haryana lad is listed on the World Chess Federation (FIDE) website with an ELO rating of 1956. Having given up chess for cricket, Yuzvendra Chahal has now gone back to his roots following the 21-day lockdown imposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
Chahal participated in an online blitz event organised by chess.com and matched his wits against the likes of R Praggnanandhaa, India's second youngest Grandmaster ever, Grand Masters B Adhiban, Nihar Sarin and Karthikeyan Murali. In a freewheeling interaction with Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta and International Master Rakesh Kulkarni before the event got underway, Chahal said his experience in chess taught him the virtues of patience which is trying to follow in cricket and also explained why he chose cricket over chess.
"In cricket, you may be bowling well but you may not get wickets. Like in a Test match you may have bowled well in a day but not got wickets but you have to come back the next day so you need to be patient. Chess has helped me a lot in that way. I have learnt to be patient and get batsmen out. I had to chose between chess and cricket. I spoke to dad who said the choice was (yours). I had more interest in cricket and opted for it," Chahal said.
Yuzvendra Chahal has been India's key legspinner in the last couple of years under Virat Kohli. (Image credit: Getty Images)
During the course of the interaction, Adhiban Bhaskaran said he had the honour of playing Chahal and reminded everyone that he had defeated him during his junior days. "I have played him (Chahal) and also beaten him. He was a good player and won the national under-12 title. He changed sports and is now doing very well in cricket. Happy to see that. Hope to meet him some time later," Bhaskaran added.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced the total lockdown of cricket all over the globe. The Indian Premier League 2020 which was supposed to begin on March 29 has been postponed to April 15 due to the coronavirus but now even that seems unlikely with the number of cases rising exponentially throughout the country. India has over 3500 cases with close to 100 deaths due to the coronavirus pandemic. Chahal said he was spending time with his family after a long time.
"I don't get to spend too much time with my family. After many years I am at home. I am spending a lot of time with my family. It is a good and new experience. I sleep late and wake up late and spend time with my family members in the evening," Chahal said. The legspinner, who plays for the Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, also urged people to stay indoors.
"Please remain at home, this is an opportunity for you to become a hero. We have to remain united to fight coronavirus. You can read, learn dance, cook, learn new things in the time available," Chahal said.