This interview was published in the April issue of Sports Tribune Magazine
Young chess player Mohammad Fahad Rahman has already created a buzz in the sporting arena as he has won a few tournaments at a tender age. The teenager upgraded his level even higher as he has qualified for the forthcoming World Cup by beating the best chess players of the country. The tournament is set to begin on September 9 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. The tournament is a huge opportunity for the young talent but he is getting very little support compared to his counterparts. Even then, the young man is confident of doing well in the big stage. He talked about his confidence, preparation for the big event and his chess life to Dhaka Tribune in an exclusive interview.
Can you tell us about your experience in the last tournament?
Every tournament gives me new experiences. The Asian Zonal Championship is a very big stage, and playing there for the first time was also very big for me because it could give me the International Master title, and ticket to the World Cup as wekk. At first, my concern was to make the top three. But after playing seven-eight rounds, I gained confidence that I could be the champion. In the last two rounds, I beat Grandmaster Abdullah al Rakib and Fide Master Mehdi Hasan Parag, which was very crucial. It was a big achievement for me because in zonal tournaments, GMs always used to seal the championship, but this time it was different because of my presence.
What are your expectations on the upcoming World Cup?
First of all, participating in the World Cup is a very big thing, but now I have to make it count. There I have to face all the world-class players and I don’t know how far I can go. I will try to contest the playoff. My main target is to reach the playoff, and if I can play better there, I could go to the next round.
How are you preparing for the World Cup?
I’m preparing myself on my own, but before this kind of big tournament, having a coach from the federation can be very helpful. A coach can guide me in the proper way. The federation has assured that they will arrange a coach within the next month.
When do you think you can become a GM?
I can’t say how long it will take to be a GM but I’ll try my best to become that as soon as possible.
How did you start playing the game?
I started playing the game in 2008 but really, I started playing seriously in 2011. Actually this is our problem. We can’t practice properly at the right moments. This is why we are lagging behind the other countries in the world. When I played back in 2011 I got no coach who may guide me. Suppose you are given a guidebook, but if you don’t have knowledge then it is of no use. There is no logic in it. We didn’t get any coaches. For example, you need a chess board and the latest chess software when you start playing the game but we got no such staff. Then how can we bring out our best? We were finally given chess software in 2011. But it was of a backdated version, of 2006. All these things arrive in India in double quick time. We always compare ourselves with India, and regret the fact that they have more than seven GMs, and we have only five. We also say since Niaz Murshed from Bangladesh got the GM norm before any other Indian player, our chess players should always be better compared to India. But none of us assess the scenario and the reality. We don’t even have enough coaches, while India has several. Despite that, I’m trying my best individually. I played quite a few tournaments in 2015, that’s when I understood what I needed to do in order to improve. I knew how much I had to practice.
Why chess? Why not cricket or football?
If you want to become a professional cricket player and dream to be included in the national squad, it is very difficult and sometimes these things can be political. In my opinion, if I was a cricket player, I wouldn’t have been this popular, and I don’t think I could earn all those titles and prize money. Aside from these things, I love the game passionately.
During my childhood, when I used to watch chess, my interest about the game augmented and later I took it very seriously. Another thing is, this game deserves brain power and I love the challenge immensely.
What will you say about the federation?
The new committee of the federation is better than the previous committee. They are doing far better than the previous one. To be honest, the previous committee did some harmful things to the federation. The new committee is arranging many training seasons for the players and also holding all the tournaments timely. They also arrange abroad tours for young players. But still, they need to go a long way to properly support the chess players of our country.
What other sport do you follow with the exception of chess?
I follow both cricket and football matches, especially the football World Cup. There I support Argentina for Lionel Messi. Also I watch some European league matches and my favorite teams are Real Madrid and Liverpool.
Who are your favorite players in chess?
My all time favorite player is GM Bobby Fischer of the USA.
What are your hobbies?
Playing and watching football is one of my main hobbies. I also like to watch TV series during my spare times.
What kind of support did you get from your family?
My family is a big support for me. They do more than enough always.
Where do you study, and do you play the game of chess at school?
Currently I read in class 9 at Little Jewels International School. Some of my teachers want to play with me in school sometimes.
How do you feel as Bangladesh’s youngest IM?
When I became the youngest FM that feeling was better than becoming the IM. Because that was the first time I achieved something big in my life.
As a talented chess player, what advice would you give to the young chess players in Bangladesh?
Back in 2014, when I played federation matches I didn’t see any young chess players there, but now I see more than 100 young players playing chess. It’s a very good sign. As I said earlier, the new committee is taking good care of the young players. They are getting local coaches but my advice to them will be: don’t rely only on the coaches; you have to practice individuallyyou’re your own betterment.
How many tournaments will you play before the World Cup?
There will be two GM tournaments in India and one Fide tournament in Bangladesh. I hope I can hone my skills in the events to accentuate my chance for the big event.
• 10 gold medals in 10 international tournaments, highest in Bangladesh sports history.
• Six silvers and as many bronzes in international tournaments.
• Two-time champion in international Grandmaster tournaments.
• Three-time national chess champion.
• Record five-time champion in sub-junior chess.
• Four-time champion in national junior chess.