Sunday, October 27, 2013

The National Challengers 2013!!

The National Challengers 2013, took place in Bhopal from the 12th to 22nd of October 2013! I was one of the proud participants of the tournament and I must say it was one of the finest Chess events ever to take place in India!
First of all the thing that made a huge difference was the excellent playing hall.

The air conditioned hall was spacious. Players didnt have to bump into each others elbows to write a move! Sometimes its these little things which motivates a chess player to fight harder on the chess board!

I must also mention that the food in the city of Bhopal was excellent. In particular I visited a restaurant called Indian Coffee House on the first day of my arrival and my next 13 days i.e 26 meals were taken in the same place!
It is my firm belief that often to make good moves , you need good food! Bhopal didn't disappoint the players in that aspect!

Coming back to Chess. This year's National B witnessed 8 GMs and nearly 34 IMs in action out of the 282 participants! With only 9 seats up for grabs (which I think later has been increased to 11) for National A it was going to be one hell of a blood fight!
Unlike the previous National B's where there would be 30 spots and players would just come to the board and sign the truce, in this edition I hardly saw players agreeing to a draw! The time control of getting 30 mins extra after 40 moves made the tournament even more interesting and tiring for the players!
After 13 rounds of high pulsating Chess who were the players who entered into one of the Premier events of the country?!!
Lets start with the 11th place (As per my knowledge, 9 players were to be selected but the fact that Anand and Harikrishna wont play in National A means that 11 players got the berth)

11. GM M.R.Lalith Babu! 2583 (9/13)

Lets say he is one of the coolest GMs in India. If you by chance happen to be his room mate during a tournament, then you will think that becoming a GM is a piece of cake! The ease and poise with which he plays is truly world class! He spends more time playing counter strike game during the tournaments than preparing for his opponents! But make no mistake dear friends, at home he toils! He toils day and night and the rating of 2583 is the reward for his hard work and dedication!
He didnt play so well in the tournament, But still was able to book the last seat to the National Premier!

10. GM B Adhiban! 2587 (9/13)

This Guy needs no introduction! After his exploits at Tromso Norway, it would have been a huge disappointment for chess viewers to see him missing from National Premier. Though he had a tough tournament with 5 wins and 8 draws!! None of his opponents could go back home with the sweet feeling of having tasted victory against him! The fact that he has qualified for National A, makes him one of the favourites to win the title!

9. IM K Ratnakaran! 2428 (9.5/13)

This man has made a lot of changes in his life it seems! A glimpse at his picture above will show that he has lost a lot of weight which is very difficult and secondly he has started to think more!! :) something which is so very Unratnakaranish!! :) Results have immediately started to show as Ratnakaran qualified for the National A this year! What can I say about him as a player! I would rather like to show you a diagram from his game which will give you an idea about his play.

Ratnakaran-Sethuraman Round 13
White to play.

It was the crucial last round. So much was at stake! Ratnakaran as white plonked his rook on d5! 1.Rd5. Sethuraman calmly defended with 1...b6. Now starts some real fireworks! 2.Rf5!!?? Maybe a wrong sacrifice but who cares! 2...gf5 3.Ng5 h6.

White to play
When i was young my coach used to say, if a pawn attacks your piece, then save your piece because 3 points to 1 point is a bad deal! Maybe Ratnakaran had learnt something else! We need to find his coach!!

Without much fuss he put another piece into the fire, with 4.Qh5 and after hg5 he was an entire rook down with no real visible mate! Yet he was able to beat a strong GM as Sethuraman from such a position with moves like Bg5,g4,Kh1!!?? Rg1!!??. Just shows what high level of practical skills and optimism he possesses!

8.GM Deepan Chakravarthy 2476 (9.5/13)
This GM from Tamil Nadu has a style of play which is pretty unique! I call it the logical style! He makes the most logical moves in the position! Some might think if he just makes logical moves how can he become a GM? But making logical moves in chess is like having common sense in life! Common sense is really uncommon and people are often attracted to flashy and faulty ideas on the chess board! But not Deepan!
I can give you one such example from the tournament!

Deepan Vs Laxman
White to play.
When you first look at this position, the first thing that comes to your mind are the weakened dark squares around the black king. So you think about how to use your bishop rooks and queen to launch a mating attack. You calculate and in some lines even your king comes under some attack. Now look at what Deepan played! 1.Qe5!?  I dont vouch that this is the best move in the position but its so logical. After the exchange of the queens the game becomes totally one sided because the bishop is superior to the knight, our rooks are well placed and the white king is active in the endgame! Such a logical move yet we would try to bang our heads for hours trying to find a mating attack, come under time pressure and make some mistake! Now thats why I call Deepan a very strong player! He will surely be a tough nut to crack in the National A.

7.IM Stany G.A 2388 (9.5/13)

When I was learning chess, my coach told me be careful of the pawn moves you make because you can never take them back! I guess what Stany's coach had told me was that, Son, Push your pawns you only need to push them 5 times in order to make a queen!! :)
Known for his fearless style of play, whenever I see his games I see him making dangerous pawn moves all over the board. He loves to take space and then crush the opponent! His habit of pushing pawns gave him a very crucial last round victory against IM Swapnil Dhopade. This is what the position looked like after the opening.
Stany vs Swapnil
PAWNS & SPACE thats what Stany likes to have in Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner!! :)

This is a position you just cant afford to get against Stany! He has his favourite imbalance, that is the space and he has lots of pawns to push!! And he didnt disappoint! Within another 20 moves, he promoted the b pawn to a new queen! 
With such brave style of play, on his day, he can scalp even the strongest of GMs!

6. IM P.Shyam Nikhil 2412 (9.5/13)

He is extremely low profile! In fact he speaks so less that many times people dont even think he is present! But he surely makes his presence felt on chess board! An excellent tactician that he is , he is able to save many a inferior positions. He was 8.5/12 and faced the stiff task of beating the super solid Abhijit Kunte in the last round and he delivered! Just shows that this lad from Tamil Nadu doesnt really know what big match pressure is because he never comes under pressure! He is as cool as a cucumber! :)

5. IM Vishnu Prasanna 2496 (9.5/13)

A true student of the game, Vishnu is really good at all aspects of the game. He is one player who is well versed with theory, excellent in calculation and also very strong positionally. In short he has all the qualities of becoming one of the best players in the country! I always have admired him for his hunger of chess knowledge! He recently became a GM though his title is yet to arrive, he played a very nice tournament and capped it up with an excellent win against GM Neelotpal Das in the last round to qualify for the National A.

4. IM Debashis Das 2497 (9.5/13)

A great addition to the list of Indian GMs!!

His passion for the game of chess is mind blowing and so is his confidence! Passion I say because: he has taken a separate apartment in his hometown so that he can alone practise chess without any disturbances!!
And confidence because he addressed a gathering in Orissa in Jan 2013 I think, that he shall be a GM in 6 months and though he missed it by a few months, it really is a great achievement!
Coming to his chess skills, I think one thing which separates Debashis from his contemporaries, is his excellent Endgame Technique.
And it really was a befitting tribute to his endgame skills when he beat Aniruddh Deshpande in a slightly favourable endgame to earn the GM title!!

Debashis with the white pieces was able to cross the 2500 mark by playing a really long endgame with the white pieces and showing that it pays to be a good endgame player!

3. IM Akshat Khamparia 2384 (9.5/13)

Akshat didnt disappoint the home crowd!!

You can call him the dude of Indian Chess! He is truly one of those talents who can play at a very high level irrespective of whether he prepares or not! However for the National B, Akshat seemed to have come in altogether different mode! He was focussed and as he himself said, took one game at a time. As one knows, its never easy to perform in front of home crowd. Akshat had the pressure of the entire Madhya Pradesh on his shoulders which he carried with full responsibilty.
Maybe Vishy Anand can take a few tips from him, after all he will be playing in his hometown in the coming world Championship match!! :)

One thing which I love about Akshat is his courage. Have a look at this position from his game against IM Murali Karthikeyan

Murali Karthikeyan vs Akshat Khamparia
Black to play.

Black is definitely better. He has a pawn up position and wonderful development. In such a situation, atleast majority of the people would milk the advantage. But not Akshat! He made quite a stunning move
1...Rfd8! 2.Bd8 Rd8 And thus reiterating the old age principle :  its important what remains on the board and not what goes outside it. Akshat played a powerful game and won. The move Rfd8 was truly a tribute to his confidence and courage!

2.IM Ashwin Jayaram 2461 (whooping 10.5/13!!)

Head held high!! Great Play by Ashwin!

A deserving Joint winner at the National B championship 2013. Ashwin showcased his superiority over others not just by beating them but he annihilated almost all his opponents. Its one thing to beat good players but Ashwin beat super strong opponents. His list of victims included CRG Krishna,IM Vikramaditya Kulkarni,IM Shyam Nikhil,IM Akshat Khamparia,IM Murali Karthikeyan and GM Lalith Babu. Quite an impressive list I must say! The only thing that is between him and GM title is 13 elo points now. I am sure that he will achieve it this time! Ashwin is truly a deserving candidate to become a GM! His opening knowledge combined with attacking skills is one of the best in the country!

Usually Ashwin doesnt play well in India. He has lost a lot of rating points before, but this time it was totally different! He gained 26 elo points! I wonder what made the difference!

Ashwin with his mom, his lucky charm! :)

1. IM M.S.Thejkumar 2421 (10.5/13!)

One of my favourite players in India, M S Thejkumar proved himself to be a class apart when he scored 3 GM norms when he wasnt even an IM!! He has slowed down a bit recently but I have a feeling that this National Challengers victory will be the start of his upward climb once again!
Known for his amazing technique, I would like to confer upon Thej the title of Indian Smyslov!
His games are like poetry. Always a link and always free flowing! I could go on and on about Thejkumar but I would like to let the man speak for himself. I took an interview with him after the completion of the tournament and this is how it went.


Sagar Shah (SS): When you came to his tournament what was your aim?
M.S.Thejkumar(MST) : Actually i was not going to play the tournament as I had planned to play the World Cities representing Bangalore city. However the visa of one of our team mates was delayed and just 4 days prior to the National B i decided to participate. When I first came to the tournament, I said to myself, let me try to finish in the top 9 and get selected for National A.

SS: How do you feel after winning the National B tournament?
MST: I am extremely happy. Winning the National B is a dream of every chess player and today I am happy to have fulfilled this dream! (smiles)

SS: Which was your favourite game of the tournament?
MST: From the point of view of winning the tournament two games were very important. One was my game against Vishnu Prasanna and the other against Ashwin Jayaram. In both the games, I was able to beat the players leading the tournament. But purely from chess point of view I was very happy with my game against Ashwin.

SS: In the past one year you werent playing upto your potential, what exactly did you do differently to win this tournament?
MST: In the last year I played a few tournaments badly and that really affected my confidence level. I wasn't really playing confidently. So i decided to take a break from playing tournaments. In the break I didnt work so much on chess. I spent more time with my family. So when I came to the National B tournament, I was refreshed and raring to play some good games!

SS: how do you intend to complete the GM title that has been eluding you since some time now?
MST: I will play the GM open in Hyderabad and then also the National A tournament. I hope to complete my title by the year end.

SS: Finally before taking your leave, we would like to know the role of your wife in your chess career?
MST: She supports a lot. Some of the times she has to live alone for many days. Her career is also important. But for my chess career she has made a lot of sacrifices already. She is fine that many times I am not able to spend time with her. And one very important thing that helps me keep going is that she is very interested in the game of chess!
Thej with his wife Jayashree.

We wish Thej all the best for all his future endeavours in chess.

As Thej mentioned in the interview his favourite game from the tournament was against Ashwin Jayaram, we decided to analyse this game for the viewers.

M S THEJKUMAR vs ASHWIN JAYARAM (annotations by Sagar and Amruta)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Qb3 dxc4 6. Qxc4 O-O 7. e4 Nc6 8.
Be2 e5 9. dxe5 Ng4 
Thej introduces a strong novelty in this position.

10. Nd5!?N (practically a very strong novelty by Thejkumar) 10...Ngxe5  (10... Be6 was better 11. Bg5 Ngxe5! 12. Bxd8 Nxc4 13. Bf6 Bxd5 14. Bxg7 Kxg7 15.exd5 N6e5 16. Nxe5 Nxe5 17. Rc1 Rac8 = can be a possible improvement) 
11.Nxe5 Bxe5 (11... Nxe5 12. Qxc7 +/=)
How to start an attack now?

 12. h4! the start of an attack,typical one when opponent is having a pawn on g6 which can be used as a hook. but surprisingly when the white king is still in the center and the center is open its a huge risk for white too and one inaccuracy can land him in a dangerous position. Be6 13. Bg5 Qd6 (13... f6 14.
Be3 Bxb2 15. Rd1 Be5 16. h5 white has tremendous compensation for the pawn by means of: tremendous piece activity, great co ordination amongst his pieces, weak black king and KS pawn structure.)

How would you bring the Rook on a1 into the game now?

14. Rd1! each and every piece of whites is at work. (14. O-O-O  move which looks most natural
safeguarding ones own king and also getting the rook on the best file. but this move is refuted by blacks counterattacking move b5! =/+) 14... Rfe8 15. h5 Bxd5 how long one can tolerate such a strong knight after all? 16. Rxd5 Qe6 17. hxg6 hxg6  (17... Qxg6 could have been better way to sustain in this bad
position. 18. Rh4 +=)

 18. f4! Bg7 (18... Bxb2 19. e5 Bxe5 20. fxe5 Nxe5 21. Qb3 Ng4 22. Qf3 +- and white will be a piece up. generally if pawns are a compensation, they need to be advanced to be effective which is not the case
here.) 19. e5 Ne7 20. Rd2 Nf5 21. Qxe6 Rxe6 22. Kf2 

White is clearly better in this endgame one which Thejkumar will convert with ease.

After the exchanges the ending is clearly better for white in view of his double bishops, and rook activity on the open files.} Bf8 23. g4 Ng7 (23... Ne7 24. Rd7 c6 25. Bf6 Rxf6 26. exf6 +-) 24. Bc4 Rc6 25. Bb3 Ne6 26. Bf6 Bg7 27. Bxe6 Bxf6 

White to play. Finish off the game now!

28. Bd5! White wins a piece and the rest is just a matter of technique. Rd8 29.exf6 Rcd6 30. Rhd1 Kf8 31. Ke3 Re8+ 32. Kf3 c6 33. Bb3 Rxf6 34. Rd8 g5 35. f5 Rh6 36. R1d7 Rxd8 37. Rxd8+ Ke7 38. Rb8 Rh3+ 39. Kg2 Rh4 40. Rxb7+ Kd6 41. Kg3

Truly a beautiful game by Thej who played a strong opening novelty, followed it up with powerpacked attacking moves in the middlegame and the endgame was converted with ease.
A game that could well have been played by a 2600+ player!

Some Pictorial Impressions from National B 2013.

With my great friend and room mate Mr.Atul Dahale (left)!!

A tale of inspiration for many. Darpan Inani! Not only is he a world junior blind bronze medallist, he has also cleared 1 group of inter CA!! 

IM P Karthikeyan recently married K Harini. As he said in his words he didnt feel that much different playing his first chess tournament as a Husband!

Beautiful trophies given to all the top 30 prize winners!

A very cute chess family. Anjali didi, Siya and Tejaswini Sagar.

The top 30 prize winners in one pic! Some of them wondering how can I run at such a lightning speed!! :D

I hope you enjoyed the Coverage of the National B. 

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Interview with GM Vidit Gujrathi

He is one of the Brightest Hopes of Indian Chess. At the age of 19, he already boasts of having an astronomical rating of 2582. He has to his credit many achievements but the most notable of all of them was the Bronze Medal at super strong World Junior Championships at Turkey in September 2013.
Yes friends I am talking about the Lad from Nashik, the one and only, VIDIT GUJRATHI !!

On the afternoon of 3rd October I (Sagar Shah) took the interview of this prodigious Talent, that I present to the dear reader so that you can get a better idea about Vidit, who is sure to make India proud on many more ocassions in future!,

Sagar Shah(SS): What were your expectations when you went to World Junior?

Vidit Gujarathi (VG): My aim was definitely to come in the top 3 of the tournament. I think in general its better to go with an aim to the tournament, because previously I used to play tournaments without an aim and it never worked out so well. And I felt that it was a realistic aim considering the way I was playing prior to the event. I was playing good chess.

SS: One of the games which impressed me a lot from the World Junior was when you made a novelty on the 20th move against Dastan Batuhan in the 7th round and then you played the best computer moves upto almost the end of the game. Please tell us something about this phenomenal preparation?

VG: I had infact revised my analysis the day before the game because my opponents always plays exactly this opening, the Semi Slav. During the game too I took a lot of time to recollect all my analysis. But in general its not easy to remember such deep analysis. I think the only way to remember it is "Repetition!"

SS: After losing to Ipatov in round 9, you were 6/9, had you given up all the hopes of winning a medal by then?

VG: To tell you the truth, yes, I had given up all the hopes. To score 4/4 or even 3.5/4 in the next 4 games was not at all realistic. But at that point a very wonderful thing happened. I lost all the worries and tensions and started playing freely which is not at all my style! I just started to enjoy chess! Maybe this attitude comes only when you have nothing to lose!

SS: You played the Dutch Defense against Debashis and also the h4! line in Grunfeld against Cori Jorge. For you it must really have been going outside your comfort zone!

VG: Yes, exactly. But as I said I had nothing to lose at that point. And usually the lines I play offer a solid position but nothing special. Against Debashis I realised that playing Nimzo wouldnt give me enough practical chances. So i went for unconventional positions in the Dutch.Carlsen played Dutch some time ago and that was quite reassuring!
And as for Cori who plays the Grunfeld, players all around the world have been banging their head to find an advantage against Grunfeld unsuccessfully! I just decided to play something complicated that put the weight of the game in the middlegame.

SS: So does that mean we can expect some fireworks in future tournaments from the super solid Vidit Gujarathi?

VG: (Smiles) Maybe! This time it was the tournament situation that demanded this approach but in future I would really be liked to known as an aggressive player! It always pays to be flexible. One thing is sure I dont regret my decision of being aggressive in the World Juniors! (laughs!)

SS: What was your feeling after winning the Bronze medal?

VG: I was definitely ecstatic but my happiness was doubled when I came to know that Garry Kasparov was coming to the Prize Distribution Ceremony. It was really a great bonus!

SS: So does Garry Kasparov know who Vidit Gujarathi is?

VG: Hopefully! :) He retweeted my tweet where I wrote that I met Garry Kasparov! So I think he now knows me vaguely! But of course I still have to do a lot more to be known personally!

Vidit with the Great Garry Kaparov after receiving the Bronze Medal!

SS: Moving on from World Juniors, my next question is very important for our readers to know you well. What do you think is your biggest strength as a chess player?

VG: Well I think my biggest strength is that I can handle any middlegame position pretty well. It doesnt have to be a quiet position or a complex one. I can put my mind and find the best way to play. So in that sense I have a universal style which is my biggest strength.

SS: So can we expect you to switch to 1.e4 now?

VG: (smiles) I guess its better to keep my future opponents guessing!

SS: Yes I agree to the fact that you are an extremely difficult player to beat. Is it true that you haven't lost a game with white pieces since two years?!!

VG: Well I lost one in Greece 2 months ago. But prior to that I had been unbeaten with the white pieces since Feb 2012! So not 2 years but yes I was nearly 1.5 year unbeaten with the white pieces!

SS: Phew! Thats just Phenomenal! How do you manage it against strong 2600+ players!

VG: Everyone knows that I am solid. Of course I dont lose easily but at the same time my victories against strong players arent too many!

SS: So Vidit, what is your daily schedule like when you are working on chess and also otherwise?

VG: Chess preparation is not easy! It requires a lot of time and effort but fortunately I am interested in Chess and half of the battle is won there! I read a lot of books, solve lot of studies and tactics and work on my openings. I dont have a fixed schedule as such but I like to work in the evenings and a nights. You can say that I am an Owl. I like working late in the night!
As for the days when I am away from the chess board, I try to hang out with my friends, play basketball and watch a lot of TV shows! American sitcoms! Friends and Big Bang theory are my favourites!
One of Vidits Favourite Sitcoms: Friends.

SS: What do you do for physical fitness?

VG: I am a very lazy person! So I dont really indulge much in physical activity but I play Basketball and also Football to stay fit.

SS: 2582, Lets say you are close to being a 2600 player now. What do you think is the difference between you and a 2700 player and how do you intend to bridge this gap?

VG: I think in general 2700 players are very tenacious. Its very difficult to beat them. Even if you have an advantage against them they resist very strongly. Usually thats not the case with 2500-2600 players. So winning a game against 2700 players is extremely difficult.
As for my personal improvement, I think I will play more tournaments now. I will try to gain more experience in 1-2 years and in order to become more tenacious I think good books will come to my rescue!

Holding his fort against Strong 2700+ players like Anton Korobov!

SS: What is your opinion about reading chess books? Is it a good way to improve?

VG: I think it is one of the best. For me atleast! I have really benefited by reading chess literature. I learnt how to make good quality analysis, learn about classical games, come across interesting positions only through books. I know many 2500+ rated players who are not interested in reading books but I think they are very useful. In general I read a book, take the important broad points from them and try to think as to how I will make use of them in my games.

SS: So which are your favourite books?

VG: Well,its easier to quote the authors than specific books. I think Garry Kasparov series is one of the most well written books with mind boggling analysis. Usually I enjoy reading my best games books of modern players like Anand, Gelfand, Carlsen etc. And of course the contemporary authors Dvoretsky and Aagaard are the best!

SS: Do you think Chess coaching is important for a player?

VG: Of course! Chess coaching is quite essential because the players are often biased about their games. Having a second opinion from a qualified player is always a good idea! Coaching is important in all the sports and I think Chess is no exception. I recommend that every upcoming player should have a good coach for rapid progress.

SS: How do you think that a player should improve in the following departments:

VG:  Solving positions is the key. He must solve as many positions as he can and from as many books as he can. And also a lot of Studies. It is one of the best ways and also the easiest way to improve. Easy because a lot of material is already available. And you dont even need a coach for it. You can do it regularly on your own. At every stage the student must solve tactics which make him stretch a little. Not always the ones which come to him very easily!


VG: One has to improve his strategic thinking for this. And I feel the best way is to read Dvoretsky's books. They are excellent. They have been very helpful to me.


VG: Very difficult according to me! But I guess knowing basic theoretical positions is a good start. And secondly one must see a lot of top level games as to how they convert their advantage. Once in between I tried to play pawn up endgame positions against the computer. But it would defend so tenaciously that I finally gave up on that idea! I wouldnt recommend that to anyone! (laughs)

SS: One particular player from India has been doing excellently recently. He is almost same age as you, maybe a little older and he performed exceedingly well in World Cup 2013. B Adhiban. What is your opinion about him.

VG: He is an excellent player. I have played him many times and I know that his main strengths are his calculations and playing complicated positions. Also he has some great opening preparation.

SS: What is it that you love about chess the most?

VG: Its the struggle. Its so difficult to win. Thats why chess is so interesting to me! We play for 70-80 moves,taking small advantages and then converting it. Its very interesting.
Also, I try to keep a balance between enjoying the game and enjoying the results.

SS: And, a question that is a hot favourite nowadays! Anand-Carlsen! What do you think?

VG: Many people have predicted that Carlsen is the favourite and i think he has more supporters but it wont be easy because Anand is an excellent match player and he has proved it again and again by beating the likes of Kramnik, Topalov and Gelfand. So it will be a close match. And of course I will be rooting for Anand!

SS: A hypothetical question. If Anand were to ask you to join him in his team of seconds right now for the World Championship Match, would you be ready?

VG: Of course It would be an honour!

Vidit on extreme left celebrating the birthday of Vishy Anand!

SS: Do you think chess will come to an end someday?

VG: I fear that! (laughs) Mainly because thats what i have spent doing my entire life till now. Opening advantage is becoming difficult to achieve. But we are still humans and majority of the battles are fought in middlegames and endgames. So not such a huge issue! Chess is safe for atleast 5 years.

SS: 5 years?!! Only! I thought you would say until your lifetime!

VG: (laughs) I am not really sure! But in an interview in 2008, Anand said that during his match against Kasparov in 1995 things were getting difficult.It was not easy to find new ideas. Anand further added that its now 2008 and chess is still fresh with new ideas. Thus I feel that Chess will survive And With the advent of computers it has become even more interesting now!

SS: One very interesting question that I want to ask you is: You see your friends hanging around, having fun, being in relationships with girls. Do you miss that part of your life?

VG: This is off record right! (laughs) Well I do miss my college life every once in a while but you must also see the things that chess players gain. We get to travel so much, see new countries, make international friends and know about different cultures. So I dont think I regret my decision of playing chess and missing out on other things.

SS: Thats a very nice answer but you conveniently avoided the question regarding relationships and girls! So let me rephrase it. Is it a distraction for chess players to be in a relationship?

VG: (laughs)  You might be able to answer that better than me!! (lots of laughter) But on a serious note I really dont know about it.

No Distractions! Totally focussed!

SS: How do you think chess will become more popular in India?

VG: This year we had the Chess league and there are Chess in school programs. But most importantly the Anand Carlsen match will give a big boost to chess. Cricket will keep overshadowing other sports in India but Chess I think will keep on developing.

SS: Chess players are considered Nerds by other people. How do you contradict this presumption?

VG: No no no ( very strong denial). I know a lot of Chess Players who are very smart and fun to be with. Its just a baseless generalisation that Chess players are Nerds.

SS: Who is your favourite Chess player?

VG: Without doubt Garry Kasparov!!

SS: Who is your favourite Indian Sportsperson apart from Chess players.

VG: After the movie Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, I think Milkha Singh is definitely one of my favourites. Because the struggle that he went through and yet he came out victorious was truly inspiring.

Milkha Singh- Vidits favourite Indian Athlete

SS: One game of yours that you really are proud of:

VG: I played an excellent game against Vaibhav Suri in National A, Delhi 2010. That is definitely one of my favourites.

SS: You are one of the bright hopefuls to take the place of Anand as the top Indian player. Who do you think are the other Indians in that category?

VG: I dont really think about these things. I am interested mainly in improving as a chess player myself.

SS: My last question to you is, What has been the role of your parents in your success?

VG: Big role, They constantly motivated me. They took care of all the expenses and travelled with me inspite of missing their work (they are doctors). When I was not becoming a Grandmaster it was really a frustrating period for me, but they held fort and kept encouraging me. Many parents would have shifted the focus to academics but not them. They wanted me to become something in chess for which I am really grateful to them.

Vidit's proud Parents.

SS: So is Vidit Gujarathi a full time chess professional now?

VG: Atleast I am not going to leave chess in the near future! (laughs!)

SS: Thanks a lot Vidit for such a candid interview, I am sure the readers will not only get to know you better but also benefit a lot from reading your interview! I wish you all the success in future!

VG: Thanks a lot Sagar, This interview actually helped me to think on lot of parts of my life which I hadnt really thought about before.

About the Interviewer:
Sagar Shah is an Indian Chess Player with an Elo of 2369. He has 2 IM norms to his credit and aims to make chess as popular as possible.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Learn from Anand-Carlsen games Part 3.

Rudolf Spielmann had once said: Play the opening like a book, the middlegame like a magician and the endgame like a machine!
In this game that we are looking at Anand does just that. He plays a very safe but solid line against Carlsen's Alekhine Defense and gets a pleasant advantage. With imaginative play he increases his advantage in the middlegame and finally with accurate moves he finishes Carlsen off in the endgame! This all could have been great but we expect this from Anand. But to do this in a blindfold game! Well thats what I call a genius!!

Vishy Anand(2799) vs Magnus Carlsen (2733), Amber Blindfold 2008.
Anand (white) has an obvious advantage. Would you recommend him to take on a7. Bear in mind that you must try to calculate as accurately as possible and as far as you can. I would even ask you to set this position on a chess board and to take a book and pen write down the analysis after thinking for 20 mins.

24. Qxa7!! (accurately calculated by Anand.) ( there were other options like 24. dxc6 followed by Nd5 but this move is the strongest. 24... Ra8 looks like the most logical move. So is the queen trapped now?

Definitely Anand had seen this coming. What had he prepared?

25. d6 ! extremely strong move. The black queen has to keep an eye now on b6 and b7 both, a task which is impossible and hence the queens have to be exchanged
25.. Rxa7 26. dxc7 Rc8  This move is what you should have calculated. Its true Anand is a pawn up but Now the c7 pawn is hanging. What would you do now?

If the c7 pawn is lost then everything is gone! What would you do?

27. c5!! beautiful play by Vishy Anand. He gives his opponent just no chance at all.27... bxc5 (27... Rxc7 28. cxb6 is a very nice pawn fork!) (27... b5 also doesnt help as now white uses his remaining pawn for a breakthrough on the queenside. 28. a4! bxa4 29. b5 ! all the forces come one by one to
the rescue of the c7 pawn. cxb5 30. c6! Rxc7 31. Nxb5 +- a beautiful variation.)
28. b5 ! superb play! the c pawn created the way for the b pawn to waltz forward. Now b6 is threatened and so is bc6!) 28... cxb5 (28... Rxc7 29. b6 +-) 29. Nxb5 Rxa2

Its time to put the last nail in blacks coffin. How does white win now?

We just need to control the c8 square and how do we do it?
30. Bf1! (the bishop is going to come out on h3 to help the c7 pawn to queen!) 30...g5 31. Ra1! this is the reason why Anand is a genius. He is making all the best moves in the position. exchanging the only active black piece reduces black to complete passivity.31... Rxa1 32. Rxa1 Now Ra7 is threatened and black can do nothing about it 32...Nd8 Carlsen gives back the piece effectively ending the game! Anand's play has been sublime!} (32... g4 33. Ra7 +-) 33. cxd8=Q+ Rxd8 34. Nc3+-
White is the a piece up and in a few moves Anand wrapped up the game.

What i found amazing was Anands accurate play. We often cannot relate Anand with a particular style like a positional player or a tactical player and do you know why? Its because more often than not he makes the best moves in the position. The move can be tactical or positional, he finds them. Thats why he is called a player with a universal style. Right from move 24 to 34 he made all the best moves and that too in blindfold. I really feel proud of being able to see his games and understand them! In chess we usually dont think about nations and all but I really feel great that I am from the same country as the brilliant player Vishwanathan Anand! Such games make us understand that he truly is a genius.