NEW DELHI: After ending an otherwise disappointing year on a high by winning the National Chess Championship in his third attempt, India’s youngest Arjuna Awardee Parimarjan Negi now aims to break into the 2650 bracket on the FIDE rating list next year.

The 17-year-old Delhi boy went through a rough patch this year, losing titles in Dubai, Poland and at the Commonwealth Championships after being in the lead, but with the national title triumph, Negi became the first Indian qualifier for next year’s World Cup, to be held at Khanty Mansisyk in Russia.

Currently ranked around 2620 in the FIDE rating, Negi not only won his maiden national title, which had been eluding him since 2007, but also became the first player from the city to clinch the top honour.

“Finding form after a rather disappointing 2010, it obviously feels nice. I was playing better towards the end (of the year) and that helped me win my first national title. This win is satisfying given the fact that I lost titles at major international events throughout the year.

“But my aim is much higher for next year. First of all I want to break into the 2650 bracket on the rating list and then look forward to the World Junior Championship and World Cup at the end,” Negi said in an interview.

Negi, a student of Amity School, claimed the title in the 13th round after a friendly 15-move draw with Tejas Bakre last week. Negi tallied 9.5 points in the championship, one better than runner-up and top seed G N Gopal, outgoing champion B Adhiban and former winner Abhijit Kunte.

“I am quite satisfied with the way I played during the whole tournament. Although, I was not happy with the absence of star players like Surya Shekhar Ganguly, Sasikiran and others. Nowadays no one takes nationals that seriously. There is no prestige associated with it. I was one of the favourites to win and I achieved what was expected from me,” Negi said.

The year has not been fair to Negi, who lost on a number of occasions from position of strengths at the international stage.

In April, the Indian lost at the Dubai Open after leading till round 7 before losing the plot in the last two rounds. A month later, in the Commonwealth Championship at home, Negi ran out of steam in the last five rounds after putting up a spirited display for a major part of the event.

In the World Junior Chess Championship in Poland in August, Negi finished 11th after scoring 8.5 points in all and was the best performer amongst Indians.

“I found the going tough during those tournaments. May be there was some kind of psychological pressure on me or I was trying to change a bit. I started well in all the events but somehow could not get the finish. I maintained my consistency level and that paid dividends in the nationals. It was like I am not going to get bogged down,” he said.

Negi, who at 13 years three months and 22 days, became the second youngest Grandmaster in the world after Sergey Karjakin (12 years and 7 months) of Ukraine, said he will test his skill against the world’s best at the biennial Chess World Cup.

As per the new rules introduced by the sport’s governing body, the national champion from India gets to play in the main draw.

“I want to test myself against the world’s best. This is the only way to judge where you stand,” he said.

Negi, who will next feature in the Parsvnath International Open Chess Tournament from January, is presently balancing between his 12th board examinations and tournament commitments.

“I am focussing on my board exams and will only feature in one or two tournaments before that. After that I will think of playing in the Belgian, Spanish and German leagues and spend European summer taking coaching lessons from chess greats,” he signed off.