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Chess Champ makes Kandy proud

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Lahiru Hapuarachchi is a 20-year-old chess player from Kandy. He was a member of Fischer Chess Club which won the Super League Chess Tournament in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011. He represented Sri Lanka in World Youth Chess Championship in 2007 and 2009 held in Turkey. He was a part of Sri Lanka national chess team which participated in the Asian Team Championship 2009. Lahiru however had a great opportunity to be the national chess champion in 2009 when he just required one point out of two final rounds, but, unfortunately for him he ended up losing both the rounds and finished second.

Q.What made you take interest in this particular sport?

Chess was introduced to me by my father. He knew how to play. So he taught me how to move the pieces and that’s how it started.

Q. Did you face any obstacles during this whole time?

I did not have many obstacles because my parents were backing me all the time. Especially my father used to travel with me for every tournament I played around the country. But at the time I was playing cricket. So there were times that cricket matches and practice sessions would clash with chess tournaments. I had to give priority to cricket because it is a team sport and hence missed a few chess tournaments as a result.

Q. Who were your biggest fans/supporters?

Definitely my parents and my brother are my biggest supporters. My relatives and my friends backed me a lot as well.

Q. You were a student of Kingswood College, Kandy earlier and then you moved to Dharmaraja College. What role did both the schools play in helping you become a good sportsman?

Chess might not be as popular as rugby or cricket. But my team mates were recognized for our achievements at both the schools. There was good support from the principal, teachers and school mates. A special mention should go to the M.I.Cs and the coaches who used to travel with the school team for All Island chess tournaments.

Q. What was the best moment in your career?

Winning the 2nd place in Sri Lanka Nationals was a very special moment.  I missed the championship by half a point. But it’s definitely the high point in my career and as a result I got the chance to become a member of the Sri Lankan national chess team and represent Sri Lanka in international events.

Q. Who is your role model?

My favourite players are Grandmasters Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov. But my role model would be current world champion GM Vishwanathan Anand. I thought my style of play had similarities to his game and I followed his games more often as a result.

Q. What are your plans for the future?

 Currently I’m doing my studies at the ICBT Kandy Campus in Quantity Surveying. Right now the focus is on completing the degree. But still I would participate in chess events whenever I can and I’m planning to continue playing chess after completing my studies.

Q.  What advice to have to someone who wants to be like you in chess?

A game of chess can be long and tough. So mainly, you have to enjoy the challenge presented to you by your opponent. Be creative, work hard, learn from your mistakes and update your knowledge regularly because there is always room for improvement.

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