UTD’s secret weapon: Rahul Peddi

Shreya Ravi | Mercury Staff Rainier Pederson | Web Editor

Finance and economics junior Rahul Peddi has bided his time, slowly climbing the charts in independent tournaments to become the chess team’s unexpected ace in the upcoming season.  

Although his performance last year wasn’t acknowledged through accolades, Peddi played in significant tournaments on his own throughout the year, increasing his rating to prepare for the next chess season. He performed well in both the Asian Continental and the Isle of Man Open; however, his tournaments in the 2023 fall semester with the UTD team decreased his ELO rating from 2482 to 2458. Peddi said that this decrease was mainly because of losses in the Super Finals in fall 2023, which affected both him and the team. His recent performance in the Pan-Ams and the Southwest Collegiate has made up for that, with a current rating of 2513, as he looks forward to making a comeback next season.  

Some ​of Peddi’s significant ​tournaments have been the Asian​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ Continentals of ​​2016 and ​​2019, ​​the Isle of Man Open in 2018 and the World Open in 2023. Peddi’s most memorable game was with Hans Neimann at the World Open in 2023. Peddi had the white pieces and kept up the pressure by pushing his pawns to Neimann’s side of the board, which forced his king into an uncomfortable position in the middle of the board. Because of the complexity of the game and the pressure that was applied to Peddi, Neimann blundered his defense, making Peddi attack with his queen for a possible checkmate.  

“I think I was slightly worse [in the game with Hans Neimann], but I was defending and then I came back, and I just outplayed him in a complex version [of the game],” Peddi said. 

Peddi began playing chess at the age of 6 ​at ​​​a summer camp in India, where he performed better than the other students his ​​​​​​age​​. After his family saw his potential, he started to play in more serious tournaments and ​began training with a coach​. 

“I took a break from school for half a year ​to ​​​play chess, and the other half year I ​[went] ​​​to school. That break switched my approach to becoming mostly a profile chess player,” Peddi said. “Since then, I started traveling more, playing more tournaments and training 8-9 hours a day on that.” 

Peddi said that throughout the ​​different stages of his life, his reasons for playing​​​​ chess​ changed. Initially, he​ was into chess for the rush of competition ​and excitement of getting​​​ medals; over time, he started to appreciate chess without the need to obsess over winning​​. Peddi said that his parents and chess coach encouraged him to focus on becoming the player he is today.  

“I like playing chess because it puts me in a good mood and just gives me the zen mode of it,” Peddi said. “Also, I think about the aspect of strategy and where I can think of my points out there.” 

Peddi said that he usually plays the Queen’s Gambit with the white pieces and the King’s Indian with the black pieces. Other openings that he usually plays are the Nimzo Indian Defense and Benoni, which are some of the most strategic openings in chess. Peddi said these types of openings are more on the aggressive side where he would have more control over the board; his style in UTD tournaments is to play aggressively to capture wins. However, he prefers a combination where he can both defend and attack later, which helps come up with strategic positions on the board. 

“I would not say I’m very versatile, but I think overall I’m very good at some aspects … the calculation part and the complexities I’m very good with,” Peddi said.

​​Peddi is currently pursuing his bachelor’s​​​ degree and ​​considering ​pursuing a master’s​​​ degree. He said he loves what UTD has to offer for his classes and wants to continue being in the chess team and hanging out with his friends. His primary goal in chess is to bring up ​his ELO ​​​rating​​ ​to recover from his losses this past year.​​​ 

“I have not lost a single game for UTD for two years,” Peddi said. “It’s just that the [last] fall, I don’t know what was happening and I think as a team we were not doing well in the fall.” 

Peddi said he was grateful to UTD for providing him with friends that persisted despite a difficult fall tournament season. He connected with others thanks to the clubs he is involved in and the events he attends that bring the community together, such as free food, vendors and booths. 

“People think that UTD is boring, but I don’t find it boring​,​​​​” Peddi said. ​​“​Just find your friends and it will be really fun​.​​​” ​​ 

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