BHP Junior Karthik Ramachandran secured the title of number one chess player in the United States under the age of 21 during the U.S. Chess Open tournament held in Houston this month. Karthik, who has been playing chess since the age of six, beat the top-seed player in the nation for the spot and earned the title of National Master, the second highest title that can be given to a chess player in the U.S. There are roughly 600-700 masters in the U.S. and once earned, the title is retained for life.
“It was a tremendous feeling winning the tournament, since it is the preeminent Under 21 tournament that is open to all players across the nation,” said Ramachandran. “The result was definitely something of a surprise, since I entered as the 8th highest rated player, and finished as the clear champion, with a perfect score of 6 wins and 0 losses.”
When it came time to choose a path to pursue in college, Ramachandran said that chess was a huge factor in his decision to major in business. “Chess, much like any kind of business decision, requires you to make decisions based upon numerous, often opposite factors,” he explains. “Just like there aren’t too many no-brainer corporate decisions, most chess moves are not completely obvious: Every advantage gained by a move generally has a disadvantage to it, and every weakness generally offers compensating potential in some other form. In essence, deciding on every move requires a sort of SWOT analysis that we all as students at McCombs learn about early on in our business careers. In addition, the ability to think in a methodical fashion about an ambiguous problem applies to both chess and business. Overall, the numerous similarities between the two influenced me to become a business major.”
In reflecting upon his chess journey that led him to this prestigious honor, Ramachandran wanted impress upon fellow students the importance of keeping up with your hobbies, even when you are swamped with school work and other commitments. “I definitely think that we should take some time out every day to pursue the activities that we enjoy, be it chess, music, sports, or anything else. Keeping up with these activities makes us more well-rounded and keeps us relaxed, and shouldn’t be taken for granted,” he said.
This was Ramachandran’s last year to play in the tournament since he is now 20. He had finished as a runner-up in this tournament twice before, but was determined to end his scholastic chess career on a high note.
Congratulations on this outstanding accomplishment Karthik! Read more about his win here.