Saturday, December 21, 2013

Rd.4 Sasi & Lalith lead!

One important lesson that I learnt being present at the National Premier is the importance of Self confidence. Each and every player exudes confidence when he sits at the board or makes a move. You might think they are confident because they qualified for National Premier but I would say its the other way round. These players back themselves to beat the best and even when caught out of preparation they believe that they can outplay their opponents. This is the reason why this tournament is so interesting. Each and every player believes that he can beat his opponent whoever he maybe!!

VISHNU vs LALITH 0.5-0.5
After his not so good start, i think all that Vishnu wanted was a game in which he wouldnt blunder and maybe that explains his choice of playing 1.Nf3. However this turned out to be a clever ploy and Lalith was forced into a variation he has never played before. The main trump for Vishnu was his space advantage. As Lalith desperately tried to exchange pieces in order to breathe, Vishnu added another advantage of double bishops in his bag. It seemed like a game that would be annotated by Aagaard in his book on endgame technique under the chapter "power of two bishops." As things turned out, I think Aagaard or Dvoretsky would still analyse this game but now from the point of view of the most original endgame defense ever seen! Lalith sacrificed an entire piece for just a pawn in the endgame and set up a fortress which just couldn't be breached!

Vishnu must have been stunned for a while to see that his bishop is useless and that his king has absolutely no point of entry. After the game Lalith said this idea of fortress was always there in my mind since many moves! Now thats what I call tenacious defense and some brilliant imaginative thinking!

The longest match of round 4 lasted for 5 hours. It was a Caro Kann defense by Thejkumar who seemed to be under quite some pressure in the opening. However Shyam Nikhil was not able to capitalise on his advantage and slowly drifted into a worse endgame. Now the question was whether Thej would be able to convert his advantage into a win. It was not really possible and the players made a draw.
When I entered the hall around 4.30 hrs into the game, I saw both the players sitting exactly with the same calm and poise as the above picture. Even under severe time pressure both played coolly and hardly showed any nervousness or excitement. It was really a site to behold. Entire hall was empty except for the two and the two gladiators didnt really care what was going on in the outside world!

Before the game Stany said, he would like to gain an equal position and then try his best to hold of his superior opponent in the middlegame. He got a quiet position out of the opening but not trying for an advantage with white is a crime when you play with someone as strong as Krishnan Sasikiran. Sasikiran showed exactly why as he slowly and steadily started turning the screws. Such was his immaculate technique that not even once after the opening did Stany get a chance to fight for an advantage. The best thing to learn from this game is how Sasikiran played with basic chess principles and tactics. The Basic chess principle was co-ordination of forces. He used tactical means to co-ordinate his rook bishop and kingside pawns against Stany's sole hope in the position i.e the passed 'b' pawn. A game which looks one sided when seen quickly but you can understand its beauty when you see it deeply. With this win Sasikiran takes his points tally to 3.5/4 and joins Lalith in the lead.

It was a typical case of out of the frying pan and into the fire for Akshat in his game against Ashwin. Fearing deep preparation of his opponent, Akshat went for the Torre attack. However, Ashwin turned out to be the better player on the day, as he created some fierce initiative on the kingside with his pawns and pieces. Akshat went down and this resulted in the first win for Ashwin. With 2.5/4 Ashwin is back in the pack of players vying for the top spot.

It always fun to see two youngsters battle out against each other. First of all both are ambitious so both come well prepared to the game. There is a little bit of attitude on show, trying to prove that I am the one who is superior, one player comes wearing a cap! and overall it makes a nice game for the viewers to see. Rating wise Negi was the superior player with being 100 points above Adhiban but as we already know, Adhiban relishes opportunities to beat higher rated players. Both the players played a topical variation of Sicilian Scheveningen. Of course the opening was known to both of them but the confidence with which they played was exemplary. When Negi made a move it seemed as if he had more knowledge and when Adhiban made the move it seemed he was the one who was better prepared. A fierce battle arose and Negi could have snatched the advantage. But instead he made a few mistakes and reached a very difficult endgame. The ease with which Adhiban won the endgame made it look that Negi had no chance to hold the position. So Now Adhiban is gathering speed with last 2 wins and is now on 3/4. With a cap to prevent distractions and an attitude to beat the best, this guy will be a dangerous opponent even for the great Sasi. Negi will have to get his act together. As of now he is languishing at 1.5/4.

The Benoni is an opening which is like second nature to Rathnakaran. He has played it so many times that he can be called as one of the experts in the opening. However in this National Premier, the opening seems to have deserted him as he has scored just a half point with it from 3 games. Usually in the Benoni black seeks his counterplay against the white e4 pawn. But Debashis was smart. He kept his pawn on e3. That meant Rathnakaran had to manufacture some kind of queenside counterplay.But white pieces were well placed and Debashis managed to win the exchange. This time his technique was immaculate as he gave his opponent no chance. Debashis is now on 2/4. If he starts to gain speed the soon to be Indian GM can really open up the field as he can beat the best! On the other hand Rathnakaran will be looking out for his first victory in the tournament!

AKASH vs DEEPAN 0.5-0.5
It was a completely crazy game and one that had the spectators on the edge of their seats. Deepan played the open variation of the Spanish and Akash seemed well prepared to face it. Akash got a messy position which he loves quite a lot, where as Deepan is more of a positional player. When Akash pushed his queenside pawn to a4, it seemed as if he wanted to create some queenside weakness. When infact it was just a prelude to a beautiful sacrifice. As the black queen was distracted to a8, Akash sacrificed his bishop on f7, a point that was guarded 3 times by black. Yet whichever way Deepan would recapture, he would be in trouble. Akash was cruising along the path to victory when out of no where Deepan started to create back rank threats. Akash must have remembered the famous proverb, "better safe than sorry". He could have just played his pawn to g3 and made room for his king but he was too busy creating his own threats. Deepan created enough play to cause serious problems to his opponent. And just when it seemed that the initiative was with black, the players agreed for a draw! The game was far from perfect but nonetheless it was a highly entertaining struggle. 

The organisers have created some very nice clocks which show the amount of time left before the round will begin. here you can see that the round will start when the entire clock would be coloured green. So around 7 minutes left for the game to begin!

Many people meditate before the round, some people like to talk, some like to walk. B. Adhiban likes to listen to music. He listens to music almost till 1-2 mins are left for the round to begin! So we are beginning to understand the things that work for this talent: Music, a cap to avoid distraction, Dairy milk for instant energy and Gatorade to keep himself energized. Wow thats a lot to remember before the game!! :)

Debashis Das comes to breakfast table with a very funny and unconventional look.....

But on the chess board he has that look of a Super Grandmaster!!


Usually chess players travel to tournaments alone. However when it comes to important tournaments often they bring someone with them. It could be their parents or their wife or some coach or second. In this tournament 4 players have come along with their mothers and Thejkumar has his wife accompanying him.
As these people are closest to these champions, it made sense to ask them as to what exactly made their child/ husband such a special chess player?!!

The following were the answers:

                  PADMA M.R (Mother of Lalith Babu)
"When Lalith was 7 years old we introduced him to chess. While many of the children of his age started having their first social interactions at this age, Lalith started to immerse in the game of chess. Since then there is no looking back. Lalith, when he wakes up, the first thing on his mind is chess, when he goes to sleep, he is with chess, when he eats he is with chess! Chess is his life and he truly loves the game of chess! This is what is so special about him!"

Meena Jayaram ( Ashwin's mother)

I asked Ashwin's mother the question and said I will come back to you in some time for the answer. After 20 mins when I went to her and asked if she was ready. She replied: "I didnt need the time to think." Her answer was ready when I asked the question itself!
Its Ashwin's Passion and Dedication which make him really a very strong player.

Leela Baskaran ( Adhiban's mother)
"The thing which seperates my child from the rest is his confidence. He is always ready for a challenege. Whenever he plays a tournament, he always wants to play with the top seed and beat him. He relishes the opportunity of beating a higher rated player! And secondly its his dedication. Since the past 2 years Adhiban has been working on his physical fitness. His determination to succeed is so high that he never misses even one day at GYM."
That just about says it all right. Adhiban is confident, dedicated and determined! Amazing qualities!!

Manjula Ganesan (Mother of G,Akash)
" My son's biggest quality is his fearlessness. He is never afraid of any opponent. This quality helped him win the National Premier Championship in 2012, a feat which makes me so proud to be his mother! Now he is already an IM and I hope that he will soon become a GM.

Jayashree M K (Wife of Thejkumar)
"I cannot even imagine what the life of my husband would be without Chess. Chess has given him an identity and Chess made him something. In return for that he gives his 100% dedication to the game of chess. And he loves to play chess more than ratings and titles. He will also tell me, Shall I play this tournament or this tournament. He loves the struggle involved in a game of chess and thats why he can always play so well.

The thing which i find common amongst all these players is that each one loves the game of chess. Thats the key. They are passionate and dedicated to the game and finally they are fearless and confident.
If we all try to imbibe these qualities in us, I dont see why we wouldn't be playing in the next National Premier!! :)

Here are today's pairings:
132487IMAshwin JayaramIMDebashis Das250714
242666GMSasikiran KrishnanIMAkshat Khamparia24092
352462GMDeepan Chakkravarthy J.IMStany G.A.23971
462569GMAdhiban B.IMG. Akash234313
572569GMLalith Babu M.R.GMNegi Parimarjan267112
682452IMThejkumar M. S.GMVishnu Prasanna. V252311
792411IMRathnakaran K.IMShyam Nikil P.242010

Definitely and beyond doubt the most interesting match will be the in form Lalith Babu taking on the out of sorts Parimarjan Negi. Can Negi make a comeback by taking out the leader. He definitely possesses all the qualities to do that?!! It will be a great battle!

The games of the tournament can be downloaded from here:

You can also become a member at this facebook page and vote for the best game of the day contest.

Loads of action coming up, So stay tuned to this wonderful tournament!

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