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‘Chess has helped me a lot’ – Former champion Chahal reveals how the sport has improved his cricket

by Wisden Staff 1 minute read

Yuzvendra Chahal, the India leg-spinner, has spoken of how being a prominent chess player in his youth has helped him on the cricket field.

Chahal was a national Under-12 chess champion, and had represented India in the World Youth Chess Championship.

Had things been normal, he would have been playing IPL 2020 with Royal Challengers Bangalore. However, with India in lockdown, he returned to playing chess on an online blitz event on Sunday.

In a conversation with Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta and International Master Rakesh Kulkarni, he spoke of how chess still helps him on the field. “Chess taught me patience,” he said, according to PTI. “In cricket, you may be bowling well but you may not get wickets.

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“Like, in a Test match, you may have bowled well in a day but not got wickets. But you have to come back the next day, so you need to be patient. Chess has helped me a lot in that way. I have learnt to be patient and get batsmen out.”

In his youth, Chahal had a choice between chess and cricket. He went the way of the latter after a conversation with his father. “I had to choose between chess and cricket,” he said. “I spoke to dad who said the choice was (yours). I had more interest in cricket and opted for it.”

The lockdown has helped Chahal relax a fair bit, and lead what can be said to be a normal life. “I don’t get to spend too much time with my family,” he said. “After many years I am at home. I am spending a lot of time with my family. It is a good and new experience.

“I sleep late and wake up late and spend time with my family members in the evening.”

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