P Shyaamnikhil became India’s 85th Grandmaster by completing his third and final GM norm in the just-concluded Dubai Police Masters chess tournament, ending a 12-year-wait for the player who took to the sport as an eight-year-old.

Shyaamnikhil needed just one win, and eight draws to complete the long-overdue GM title, which he achieved in the tournament.

The 31-year-old conjured the requisite 2500 ELO rating points, the minimum requirement to be a GM, way back in 2012 with two Grandmaster norms, but for the third one, he had to wait for 12 years. “I started playing at the age of eight, my parents taught me but I could not play any tournament for three years. Winning the under-13 State championship opened up opportunities for me as I could play in Asian and age group world championships,” recalled Shyaamnikhil.

Hailing from Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu this was not an easy ride for the player, who was known as one of the finest talents of his time.

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“He shifted his base to Chennai to pursue chess despite coming from a modest background and stayed with me,” said his former coach K Visweswaran.

Making his first GM norm in the Mumbai Mayors Cup in 2011 and the second one sometime later during the Indian championship as a 19-year-old, Shyaamnikhil completed the rating requirement in early 2012.

It was the Dubai Open in 2012 where Nikhil missed a big chance to score his final norm, and then a series of missed opportunities led to a long drought in his career.

“It was only in 2017 that I played tournaments in Europe, till then I was trying to play in Vietnam or UAE trying to make the final norm but these places are not so easy as the tournaments are very strong,” he said.

The 2022 Commonwealth champion said that he had come here prepared and missed a norm again in a tournament in France just before the Dubai Police Masters.

“I needed a win in the last round, but I drew again and missed the norm again,” he said when asked about how he felt about three missed opportunities.

“I wanted to play chess for enjoyment, I like Mikhail Tal and Garry Kasparov. I would like to dedicate this to my parents, who have waited a long time for this title, my trainer Visweswaran sir also helped a great deal,” Shyaamnikhil added.

“Now that the title is done, I can play more freely,” he concluded.