Devanshi Rathi is a current undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a passionate chess player and enjoys playing and watching different sports. Her mission in life is to create a positive difference in the world around her. She is trying to do that through her foundation, the Devanshi Rathi Foundation, a registered non-profit company. In her free time, she likes to write about sports and loves to take interviews of different players because it leaves her inspired.
How old were you when you first learned how to play chess? Who taught you?
I was eight years old (in 2008) when I first learnt how to play chess. I learnt from my school coach and via self-practice in the beginning.
How has chess effected your decision making process off the board?
Chess has definitely helped my decision making process off the board. I try to strategize and plan my ‘moves’ well in advance before actually ‘playing’ them. Obviously, I don’t always go according to my original plan, but that happens most of the times in chess as well.
How did your earlier career choices lead you to where you are now?
I am not sure about this. I tried to turn into a professional chess player, or at least was working towards it for about a year and a half, but I had other interests and passions in life that always made me distracted. To become a professional, one needs sole focus on the game, and I just couldn’t do that. Moreover, my multiple interests led me to pursue a major in college that is independently designed, and I’m currently working on how I can get an effective research proposal in order to declare the same.
How would you define your chess style?
I think it would be aggressive and attacking. I don’t like to defend that much, maybe I’m not that good at it!
Does your chess style transfer over into your business decisions as well?
Yes, but I feel that I tend to be more combinatory in my business decisions. Too much aggression in the business field can cost one a lot.
What has been your worst chess mistake which has given you the biggest lesson?
My worst chess mistake would be to not participate in a number of tournaments in my earlier years. I practiced myself instead of playing in different events. It has made me realise that one must make the most of one’s current time and not think too much in advance. It is the same in chess- one shouldn’t go so deep in their calculations that we lose sight of the current position.
Do you think chess has helped you to become more resilient in life?
Yes, of course! Participating in competitions definitely helps one to get more resilient and that reciprocates into one’s personal life as well, according to my experience.
What do you hope to achieve professionally during the next couple of years?
I am currently exploring my options. I’m taking a diverse set of classes for my interdisciplinary major and can only see what happens as it happens. Not planning too much at the moment. This could be a contradiction to what I said earlier about me planning well in advance. However, this is a situation where I feel that the more ‘time’ you take, the better move you would ‘play’.
What is the biggest challenge to achieving that goal?
As I don’t know the goal yet, the biggest challenge would be to find my path.
How would you relate these goals and challenges to the chessboard?
In chess, one needs to find the real path to victory and that can take the whole game. Similarly, I’m taking my time to decide.
Could you please leave us with a favorite piece of chess wisdom to conclude this interview?
Chess is an ocean where an ant can swim and an elephant can drown.
Thanks a lot for giving me this opportunity to do this interview!
To find out more about the Devanshi Rathi Foundation and Project Checkmate, please visit: https://projectcheckmate.weebly.com/