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“I didn’t even realize when I was named an international master—it was such a big dream that I couldn’t even comprehend what had just happened.”

Balaji Daggupati

“I didn’t even realize when I was named an international master—it was such a big dream that I couldn’t even comprehend what had just happened.”

Balaji Daggupati: “I first got interested in chess since my sister used to play for elementary teams. In the end, she ended up quitting, but I picked it up and I started playing with all my family members and everybody that was at home, and I just built up interest from there.

In chess, an international master is right below a grandmaster. It’s the second-highest title you can achieve. I didn’t even realize when I was named an international master—it was such a big dream that I couldn’t even comprehend what had just happened after having chased it for so long. My goal is to become a grandmaster soon, hopefully before I graduate. I strive to be the strongest in the world, and it starts with getting top in junior chess, then normal chess in the U.S., and so on. I’m just going to go from there and see where it takes me.

My favorite part of chess is honestly the lifestyle. There are multiple parts to it—preparing for the games, playing the games, it all turns into one lifestyle that’s different from your usual life. There’s the school life and then there’s the chess life. Chess takes you places and lets you meet so many people from other countries. It introduces you to a different community that you can interact with, and you’re really able to discuss something that everyone is passionate about. It leads to very strong relationships.”

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