Love on and off the chess board

“We started off as friends and then love bloomed."

Photo by Manisha Mohite

HARI’S QUEEN’S GAMBIT
By Vijay Tagore, Mumbai Mirror | Updated: Mar 4, 2018, 04.14 AM IST

India’s Super Grandmaster is castling life in Indo-Serbian love story.

Pentyala Harikrishna’s marriage to Nadezda Stojanovic in Hyderabad — scheduled for last night — was another sign of love transcending boundaries. It is just that the boundaries on this occasion were not caste, religious, linguistic or communal barriers but a continental one (Stojanovic hails from Serbia). But both have overcome the obstacles.

Yes, it was an inter-continental marriage between a conservative yet cerebral Andhra boy and a modern, educated and liberated woman. It is a story that is too sweet to be true but Harikrishna has managed to convince his family that Nadezda is the love of his life. It was a very happy ending.

There was no resistance from the boy’s family but they needed time to think about the social consequences. “When I mentioned it to my parents, they were surprised, it was unexpected for them. They took a while to think over and needed time to get used to the idea. Eventually, they agreed,” Harikrishna, a Super Grandmaster with an Elo rating of over 2700, tells Mirror. The girl’s Belgrade-based family of chess players, of course, had no problems with the Hindu boy from India.

The love story is almost 15 years old when the two met during tournaments in Europe. “We used to play in world youth tournaments, junior tournaments in the late 90s. We knew each other from those days. But we were not in regular touch. Her sister is a Woman Grandmaster (WGM) and we met again a few years later when she accompanied her sister to the tournaments. Our contact got re-established and we started meeting frequently.”

From almost 2002, they started courting and each other but Harikrishna debunks the Bollywood theory that a girl and boy can also be friends. “We started off as friends and then love bloomed. Our opinions, ideas and interests met and then we decided to take our relationships to the logical conclusion. The common thread of course is chess — it was the binding factor.”

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