Arjun Erigaisi: “Missing the Candidates was tough, but I moved on”

by Niklesh Kumar Jain
6/25/2024 – Although the selection of three Indian players in this year’s FIDE Candidates Tournament was a significant event in itself, there was a certain sadness in everyone's hearts as Arjun Erigaisi, despite coming close to qualifying multiple times, could not secure a spot. In an exclusive interview with ChessBase India Hindi’s Niklesh Jain, Arjun discussed missing out on the FIDE Candidates, his future goals, recent performances, and upcoming tournaments.

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Interview with Arjun Erigaisi

Niklesh Jain: How satisfied are you with your recent performance?

Arjun Erigaisi: Thank you! Yeah, I’m quite happy with my performance. I still missed some small chances here and there, but overall, it's a performance that I can be happy with.

Despite your high rating, what made you take the risk to play in an open tournament? What was going through your mind, and are you now receiving invitations to some top tournaments?

Yes, it is a risk to play in open tournaments with this rating. But I thought if this is the only way, I don’t mind it. And I did take that risk, and I’m happy it’s paid off.

Since getting sponsorship, how much has your chess life changed?

Yeah, since getting the sponsorship, I’ve been able to afford many more coaches and many more seconds. It has definitely helped me. And also, not just the sponsorship, but the people— they were just like a family. I got that kind of vibe. It’s very nice, just a huge shout-out to them.

You missed FIDE Candidates qualification by a whisker. Was that difficult for you, and how did you motivate yourself afterward?

Missing out on the Candidates was very tough for me. I was close on multiple paths, and missing out on each and every one of them was very tough. The first few days in January were very hard on me. I just took time off, went to a friend’s house to chill and relax. After that, I managed to move on. I made a decision that I won’t care too much about the results. When I’m playing, I’ll give my best, but whatever happens, I’ll take it as it comes. And yeah, I think that decision has helped me a lot in general.

Arjun Erigaisi

Arjun Erigaisi at the 2023 Chennai Grand Masters | Photo: Shahid Ahmed

You are already ranked world number 4. What is your future goal? Is the 2800 Elo mark on your mind?

Like I said, I took this decision to not care too much about my results and also about rankings. So yes, it feels good to be world number four and have a good rating. But I’m not really thinking about 2800 and other things. For this year, the goal is to work hard at home, play well in whatever tournaments I participate in, and do well in them. My future goal is to qualify for the Candidates 2025 and try to become World Champion one day.

What is your next tournament?

My next tournament is the Leon Masters in Spain. It’s a four-player rapid tournament happening at the end of this month.

Could you share with us who you are working with for training these days?

Yeah, I can share that I have been working with Rustam Kasimdzhanov for almost three years.

Recently, do you have a favourite game you’d like to mention?

I think the game against Harikrishna in the French League was quite nice. It wasn’t clear where exactly he went wrong, and I won very smoothly with black.

Also, the game against Murzin in Armenia was very nice because it was a very equal position and I managed to get something out of absolutely nothing.

Harikrishna v. Arjun / Arjun v. Murzin

Select an entry from the list to switch between games

Arjun Erigaisi, Pentala Harikrishna

What are your thoughts on the Gukesh v. Ding World Championship match?

Yeah, in the match, Gukesh is a favourite as of now, especially if Ding doesn’t recover. It’s just incredible what Gukesh has done, like winning the Candidates at 17 and being able to lead a World Championship match at 18. Generally, people at that age play for the under-18 or under-20 World Championship, but it’s just incredible.

Finally, with the Chess Olympiad coming up, what do you think about the Indian team’s chances this time?

I think we have the strongest lineup so far in any Olympiad. I think we have a very good chance for a medal and even gold. But it all depends on how we play during the tournament.

The interview on ChessBase India’s YouTube channel

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In this Fritztrainer: “Attack like a Super GM” with Gukesh we touch upon all aspects of his play, with special emphasis on how you can become a better attacking player.


FIDE Instructor Niklesh Kumar Jain Jain is an international chess player who has participated in tournaments in almost in 20 different countries, winning the international tournament in Sri Lanka in 2010. He also worked for a television network as an anchor and news writer for two years and reported in Hindi during World Chess Championship 2013 and 2014.
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