Padmini Rout, the reigning queen of Indian women’s chess, is a living embodiment of dedication, resilience, and relentless pursuit of excellence. With an illustrious career that includes four consecutive National titles and numerous international victories, Padmini’s journey from envisioning an engineering career to becoming a chess sensation is nothing short of inspiring. In this exclusive interview, Interview Times embarks on a captivating conversation with Padmini, delving into her early days, her passion for chess, and the unshakeable spirit that propels her forward.
Interviewer: You started your chess journey at a young age. Can you tell us about your first encounter with chess and what drew you to the game?
Padmini: My journey began with a local chess tournament advertised on my school’s notice board. My curiosity was piqued, and with my father’s guidance, I entered the tournament. But the fascination with chess had taken root during my visits to our native place, watching my father play with his friends. Chess intrigued me, and I soon found myself immersed in it. The intricate and strategic nature of chess quickly ensnared my curiosity. Before I knew it, I had fallen in love with the game, and my journey as a chess player began.
Q: In comparison to physical sports, chess requires a different kind of training. Can you elaborate on how you prepare yourself for the psychological pressure and keep your focus intact?
Padmini: Chess, like any other sport, demands rigorous practice before a tournament. However, it differs significantly from physical sports because our training primarily involves sharpening our mental faculties. We immerse ourselves in various tactics and strategies, trying to anticipate our opponents’ moves and respond effectively. Confidence is paramount, and maintaining a clear and composed mind is essential. While mental strength is a necessity in all sports, chess places even greater demands on our cognitive abilities. It’s a unique blend of strategy, concentration, and creativity that sets it apart.
Maintaining focus under pressure is crucial. I try to stay calm and not get overwhelmed by the situation. I practice meditation regularly, striving to maintain a calm and peaceful mindset. It’s an ongoing journey, and I must admit, I’m a work-in-progress in this regard, but I believe in the power of continuous improvement.
Q: If not as a chess prodigy, what path in life do you think Padmini Rout would have taken?
Padmini: If I hadn’t pursued chess, I believe I would have ventured into the field of research. Growing up, my father’s involvement in research always fascinated me, and it remains an interest close to my heart. Both my parents have been a tremendous source of inspiration and influence in my life. Interestingly, my elder sister is an engineer by profession and a remarkably talented artist. She may not pursue art professionally, but her artistic abilities have earned her prizes in the past.
Q: Beyond chess, what do you enjoy in your free time?
Padmini: Outside of chess, I have a diverse set of interests. I find solace in listening to music, and I’m quite passionate about art and craft. Reading books is another pastime I cherish. While I do love outdoor activities like trekking and swimming, my hectic schedule often makes it challenging to plan and indulge in these hobbies regularly. Nonetheless, I treasure the moments when I can.
Q: Balancing a demanding chess career and personal life can be challenging. How have you managed to find this equilibrium?
Padmini: So far, chess has been my primary focus, and I’ve never had to make a choice between different paths. My parents have been incredibly understanding and supportive of my passion for chess. Fortunately, it has become my career, and I relish every moment of it. They have never pressured me to reach a specific level; their support is unconditional. They encourage me to be true to myself. While my busy schedule keeps me away from home most of the time, when I am home, we all make an effort to manage our time and availability effectively. Family time is precious, and we cherish it, especially during festivals and celebrations. However, right before a tournament, I do feel the pressure, but my family understands and respects that aspect of my life as well.
Q: What’s your message to young, aspiring chess players?
Padmini: To all the budding talents out there, my message is simple: embrace the game with love and passion. Consistency is crucial. Aim high, challenge yourself, and believe in your abilities. Remember, setbacks are merely stepping stones to success, and the journey itself is a rewarding adventure.
Padmini Rout’s journey from a chess enthusiast to a celebrated chess champion is an inspiring testament to the power of determination and self-belief. Her unyielding spirit, combined with her strategic prowess, artistic finesse, and unwavering positivity, make her a true role model for chess players and enthusiasts worldwide. As she continues to redefine boundaries and reach new heights, Padmini’s journey stands as an embodiment of the limitless potential of human endeavour.
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