Hyderabad: Having achieved the Grandmaster title at the age of 19, M R Lalith Babu is now aiming to improve his ranking and be a world chess champion.
Babu, who earned his third GM norm at the Hastings International Chess Congress in London last week, became the 26th Grandmaster from India and fourth from Andhra Pradesh.
Interestingly, the other GMs from the state - Koneru Humpy, P Harikrishna and D Harika - also belong to Vijayawada, the coastal Andhra city.
Crediting both his mother for spotting the talent in him and striving hard to make him the player he is, as well as coach Murali Krishna for sharpening his skills, Babu said, "It was definitely not a cakewalk for me. We need to work hard to be GM. My mother and my coach encouraged me a lot."
"My goal is to improve my world ranking, to be a super Grandmaster and to prepare for World Championship," Babu said.
The teenager came into reckoning with a win at the 46th AP State Chess Championship held at Nellore when he was 15. The prodigy also went on to win the National Under-17 Championship at Calicut in 2007.
He subsequently secured the International Master title after winning a silver medal at the Asian Junior Championship in Chennai.
Babu emerged as the strongest player at the Leiden Championship in the Netherlands, overcoming some of the big names like GMs Van den Doel and Savchenko during the tournament.
He got his first GM and final IM norm in 2009 in Spain and the second GM norm at the Chennai Open in 2010.
The journey of Babu getting his Grandmaster title was not easy as it also involved securing funds, Babu's mother Padma said.
"Though we faced rejections at times for sponsorships, we took it in a positive way. We thought we should work more to be eligible for securing sponsorships. After all, there was no compulsion for someone to sponsor us."
"Lalith Babu had three IM and three GM norms. He never drew with anyone for a draw. Instead of drawing the game, he always wanted to win the game and obtain the norm. It is a matter of pride for me," she said.
Padma also said that some well-wishers in Vijayawada and the Andhra Cricket Association (ACA) helped her with finances to send Babu for foreign events.
"We cannot relax now. I feel his life actually starts now. I want him to reach the level of Viswanathan Anand. We need to plan his career in a different way. I hope some sponsors or the government would help us. He need to play foreign events now," she said.