Although I can hardly even call myself a chess player anymore, chess has taught me so much and has played such a dominant role of my childhood. Chess introduced me to competition, sparked in me some of the strongest emotions of both joy and disappointment that I know, taught me the value of patience, and throughout all this helped me mature as a young adult. In part, I feel as though my entire competitive nature was born as a result of learning a simple game one fine day as a Kindergardener.
I learned how to play chess from my father when I was 5, and was intrigued by the complexity that a board game had to offer. There was no direct element of luck or chance, yet everything about the game was, at least at the time, so unpredictable to me. I joined the chess club at my elementary school and competed in the school competitions, but before I knew it was looking for more.
On September 26th, 1998, I competed in my first officially rated USCF tournament: the Polgar Challenge. In all of my school tournaments I had performed extremely well, and I came into Polgar challenge with the same expectation. After only winning 2 out of the 4 games, not placing, and walking out of the tournament with nothing more than a "participant" ribbon, I was in shock. I was tremendously disappointed in myself and never wanted to see a chess board again. Well, to make a long story short, the latter didn't work out too well. I joined the Monroeville Chess Club soon after and was competing, and winning, in scholastic tournaments before I knew it.
In second grade I competed in my first state level tournament, and took the state title of top 2nd grader. Later on that year I felt as though I was ready to compete at the national level; I couldn't have been more wrong. Out of the seven game national series held Ohio, I won only one game. I tied two other games to bring my tournament score to a total of 2. This time, instead of crying and trying to quit the game, I decided to prepare myself better. I won the PA state title (for my grade) again in 3rd grade, again in 5th grade, and one last time in 6th, and placed 23rd in the country (for students in K-6) at a national tournament in Dallas. My career peaked when I took the fourth place award at the U.S. Chess Junior Congress national competition in Columbus, Ohio. My entire chess tournament history is available online here (search for "Seshadri, Hari").
When I entered middle school, I started focusing more on education and science fair projects, and slowly gave up playing regular competitive chess. I still play as a hobby on occasion, but not with nearly as much seriousness, skill, or even passion. With that said, every minute I spent playing and every hour my father drove to get me to the next tournament helped shape who I am today; chess really opened my eyes.