Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Abhijit Kunte breaks the Indian Simul Record!

The Indian record for playing the most number of opponents in a simultaneous exhibition was set by the very Dynamic GM Abhijit Kunte when he played 155 opponents on 5th January 2014 thereby breaking the previously set record of playing 150 players by Dhyani Dave.

Abhijit Kunte now holds the Indian Record for playing against most number of opponents in a Simultaneous Event.

For all those unaware of what a great player GM Abhijit Kunte really is, have a look at his Wikipedia Page.
Kunte was at his sheer best as he scored a whooping 149 points (145 wins, 8 draws and 2 losses) out of 155. That amounts to a meritorious score of almost 96%!!
Abhijit who had the white pieces in all the games, played for 8 and a half hours and as per the calculations he nearly walked 12kms for completing this simultaneous event! The event started round around 3 pm and ended at almost half past 11 in the night!
The simultaneous was a real challenge for him as he faced 30 rated players. What was his strategy and how did he approach simul? I shall come to that later. But first let us know more about the event.

The heart and soul behind organizing this event was the very famous Fide Instructor Praful Zaveri.

Praful Zaveri the chief Organizer of this event.

Praful Zaveri is the founder of Indian Chess School, a Chess academy that is very popular in Mumbai. Almost all of the players participating in the simul were from his Chess school.(apart form the 8 members of MCF club). As, he mentioned after the Simul, his main intention was not breaking the Limca Record, it was just ancillary. The main benefit of this event was that it gave an opportunity for his young students to play against one of the best GMs of the Nation.
He made the simultaneous exhibition more interesting by giving it the title : GM Abhijit Kunte vs Indian Chess School.
When Kunte addressed the gathering before the simul began he pumped in life to the event by saying: "You are 155 and I am only 1 but expect no mistakes from me! I am here to beat all of you!!" 

The thing which seperated this event from the other simultaneous exhibitions was the transparency with which the event was conducted. First of all, all the games were recorded with the name of each and every player participating in the event. Here are the names of all the opponents very accurately compiled: LINK

Secondly there was live webcast of the entire 8.5 hours on the internet. You can watch the video on this link: http://estv.in/indianchessschool/

The event was also broadcasted on the local TV network.

Its measures like this that brings credibility to such events and there remains no doubt as regards to the correctness of the facts. Thus I think this event will be accepted by the Limca Book of Records and it will surely be remembered in the days to come.

The venue for the event was the MCF club in Borivali, Mumbai. The club boasts of huge Tennis courts which was used to setup the 155 chess boards!

Tennis court space excellently used to organize this event at MCF club in Borivali, Mumbai.

The 155 boards were excellently placed to form a square along the boundaries of the tennis court. This meant that not only could the spectators get a great view of the games but also the sponsors of the event (mainly SBI Life Insurance) got an excellent publicity. Thus the branding of the event was done excellently.
Also one of the interesting points about this arrangement was that the players could always see where the GM is when he is making his moves. That meant they could estimate the time before he would come to make his move and be ready for it. Good thinking by the Organizers.

I think people are always inquisitive to know the thought process of a person who has done something special. So I decided to ask the man of the moment, GM Abhijit Kunte, a few questions so that we can understand better how such great feats are achieved.

Q: How was the overall experience? 
The experience was tiring. There were around 30 rated players. And the rest of the players were also chess players. So actually there were no non chess players. That means everyone was playing at least some decent chess.
Around 45-50 games were tough and, 50 games were easy, the rest were somewhere in between.

Q: What do you think about your play? Was it good.
I made around 8-10 blunders. In a game I lost my queen but soon I won the game as there were many pieces still left on the board! (laughs). In another one I got checkmated in a 4 move sequence. It was not so difficult, but yeah I missed it. So that game I lost and another one I made a piece blunder from which it was difficult to recover. (Both the games are analysed below)

Q: What was your main intention behind playing this simul?
It was just a promotional activity. I wanted to promote chess. Of course simul is nothing new for seasoned chess players but for people who are new to the game, seeing one man battling against 155 can really make them attracted to the game of chess.
But yes, 155 was a huge number. Initially when I spoke with Praful Zaveri, the plan was to just do a simultaneous exhibition but later the plan became to hold a really huge one. But i was very happy with the arrangements and branding and overall the way the event was conducted.
The rectangular arrangement excellent for the spectators. They could get a great view of this exhibition. However, for me it was a huge challenge. Even after the games got over, I had to travel the same amount to distance to complete one round. As a result I walked nearly 12 kms!

Q: What is the main benefit from a simultaneous exhibition?
Apart from the obvious fact that it popularizes the game of chess, The simul can also be a good exercise for spotting talented players. There were two or three kids who were very talented and who pressed me really hard for the entire duration of nearly 8 hours. One of them was a little girl called Pia Saxena and the other was Kabir Belgikar. If properly trained they can have a great future.

The very cute and adorable Pia Saxena (1272) cannot be taken lightly. She proved it when she took Kunte right upto the end but finally made a mistake to lose the game.

Off the board its easy to miss this little Kabir Belgikar(1381) but on the board he stamped his authority when he was completely winning against the GM. But he took a threefold repetition in the end. I think with right training and guidance, the day wont be far when he would be beating GMs in one on one encounter!

Q: What seperated this simul from other such events?
The best thing about this event was that everything was done professionally. All the records were maintained and I think in general when you hold such a huge even with such transparency it can really popularize the game.

Q: Playing 155 games for 8.5 hours, walking 12 kms! Does this require some preparation before the event?
The event was surely physically taxing but for my fitness I hadn't done anything special. Everyday I do 24 surya-namaskars and 500 skippings. Maybe that helped me to keep myself in good stead for the 8.5 hour marathon.

Surya Namaskara also know as Sun Salutation is an excellent set of 12 postures which helps you to exercise almost each and every part of your body!

Q: While playing did you think that you will soon have your name in the Limca book of records?
Actually the Limca Record was to be set for playing against these players, not by winning! So once I had arrived there and was going to finish the simultaneous, the record was already going to be broken! But my main focus was on try to finish the game within the stipulated time. It was already 3 pm when I started, So I had to have a strategy in order to finish the game before it became too late in the night.

Kunte had a stiff task of finishing the games in the stipulated time.

Q: So What was your strategy?
The main strategy therefore was to gain a material advantage and close to winning position on 30-50 boards. That would mean that I didnt have to think on those boards. I would just have to make the moves to finish off the game. I was able to do that and hence I think I was successful.
As for my opening selection, I would just look at the face and try to gauge how proficient they were at the game! (laughs) Mainly I chose e4 because I wanted to finish off the games early. Also I asked the organizer to put all the rated players in one row, so that I knew that I had to be careful when I played these guys.

Q:Now that you have given a 155 player simul, What do you think about Ghaem Maghami's world record of 604 boards and nearly 25 hours of play?
Its really a great feat. But I must mention that the number of boards is essential but I dont think its the only factor. It is possible to give a 500 board simul or even a thousand but what is important is also the level of opposition. I think in this simul that I gave the level of opposition was pretty good. I faced nearly 30 rated players who were very tough to beat. Thats nearly 20% of the opposition. That speaks for the quality of the event. But I think you have given me some food for thought now! (says jokingly) I think I will start preparing myself to break that record!!

The quality of games were quite good. Though Abhijit Kunte played some excellent games and crushed many of his opponents, I think everyone is more excited to see the games in which the GM was beaten! Out of 155 games, Abhijit only lost 2 and here are both of these encounters.

 Kunte,Abhijit (2439) - Borkar,Om [B07]
Abhijit Kunte v/s Indian Chess School , 05.01.2014
(Sagar Shah)
1.d4 g6 2.e4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Bg5 h6 5.Bh4 Nf6 6.Qd2 Nbd7 7.0–0–0 c5 8.dxc5 Nxc5 9.f3 Be6 10.Bb5+ Ncd7 11.Nge2 h5 12.Ba4 b5 13.Bb3 Bxb3 14.cxb3 b4 15.Nd5 a5 16.Kb1 Nxd5 17.exd5 a4 18.bxa4 Rxa4 


Black has played very well and now has an excellent position. With his next move, Kunte committed a grave error. 19.Nd4? g5? a mistake in return. [19...b3! would have lost a piece for Kunte 20.Nxb3 Rxh4–+] 20.Bf2 This is a good move but I think its a typical simul move. The GM tries to play it safe rather than take the bait. After all in the limited time its not possible to calculate everything. [20.Bxg5 There was nothing wrong with taking the pawn. 20...Bxd4 21.Qxd4 Rg8 black gets some play but white is on top.] 20...Nc5 21.Nc6 Qa8 22.Bxc5 Kunte tries to remove the knight and then play b3 but the little Om Borkar gives him no such chance. [22.b3! this move is a very difficult one to make in a simul but it would have given white a winning position. 22...Nxb3 23.Qe3 is the subtle point. 23...Bf6 24.Qxb3+-] 


22...Rxa2! taking his chance. Now in a simul its very difficult for white to defend himself. 23.Bxb4 Ra1+? [23...Qa4! was the only move to maintain the balance. 24.Ba3 Rxa3 25.bxa3 Qb3+ 26.Kc1 Qxa3+ 27.Kc2 Qa2+ 28.Kd3 Qxd5+ 29.Ke2 Qxc6= the game is still far from over but I think its quite well balanced here!; 23...Rxb2+ 24.Qxb2 Bxb2 25.Kxb2± white has too much material advantage.] 24.Kc2 white is back on track towards taking the full point! 24...Qa4+ 25.Kd3 Qb3+ 26.Ke2 Ra2 27.Rb1 Bxb2 28.Rhd1


Kunte defends excellently in this position and has co-ordinated himself perfectly! If it were a normal game, black could have resigned with a clear conscience, But in a Simul the GM has many other games too to worry about! 28...Qc4+ 29.Ke1 [29.Qd3 and the bishop has no good discovered check! 29...Bf6+ 30.Rd2+-] 29...Be5 30.Qd3?? As the great Lasker had said, the man to lose is the one who makes the last mistake. [30.Nxe5 dxe5 31.Rb2+-] 30...Qh4+! 

its all over, the white king is mated in 4 moves! We shouldnt be too critical as the game was played in a simul but I think it was a perfect example of the pretty high level of opposition Kunte was facing 0–1

Little Om Borkar with his trainers!

(4) Kunte,Abhijit (2439) - Dayal,Tanuj (1803) [B22]
Abhijit Kunte v/s Indian Chess School, 05.01.2014
[Sagar Shah]
1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.cxd4 e6 6.Nc3 Nxc3 7.bxc3 d5 8.Nf3 Be7 9.Bd3 Nc6 10.0–0 Qc7 11.Re1 Na5 12.Bg5 Bxg5 13.Nxg5 Qe7 14.Qh5 Bd7 15.Re3 g6 16.Qh6 0–0–0 17.Rf3 Rdf8

Kunte has built close to a winning position but he now blows it with a 1 move blunder. 

18.Qg7?? Sometimes you cannot explain why a blunder occurs. It just happens! Qxg5  White wins a piece and the rest is played well by Tanuj.
19.Rxf7 Rxf7 20.Qxf7 Nc4 21.Bxc4 dxc4 22.d5 Qxe5 23.dxe6 Qxe6 24.Qf4 Re8 25.h3 Qe4 0–1

Tanuj Dayal was a little lucky but beating a GM is always a huge achievement!

A huge Salute to Praful Zaveri and his team who conducted this event so professionally.

The little kids of Indian Chess School with Abhijit Kunte. A photograph to cherish forever!

True this event broke many records but I think its the joy and experience that each and every little kid gained by playing against a great player of the country that made it truly worthwhile. Every little kid was excited and so were the spectators. It was truly a memorable event.

Mumbai is the financial Capital of the country and also one of the most advanced cities in the world. However Chess wise, the city has nothing much to boast about except for its sole GM i.e Pravin Thipsay. Lack of Vision from the part of organizers can be attributed as the reason for such slow development in a city which otherwise leads a fast paced life.

Mumbai leads a fast paced life but the development of Chess in the city has been rather slow.
(photo credit: Raskalov vit journal.)

Praful Zaveri's efforts in such a scenario gives the city players a refreshing change. He is planning to hold a U-13 Children's chess festival in the coming future at not only the National Level but at the World level by keeping a very huge prize fund of 5,00,000 Rs.(approx 8300$)
With such positive efforts and already 175 students in his chess school, one can already see a chess boom coming up in the city!

Now that the Indian Record has been broken for most number of games, does the charismatic organizer plan to threaten the World Record of 604 games by Ghaem Maghami! 
"If there is someone who can do it, then it has to be our very own Viswanathan Anand!"says Praful Zaveri in a very Jovial manner. But the speed at which he answered the question makes me think he has already thought about this before! If this truly happens then it will be a huge blessing for the chess in Mumbai city as well as Indian Chess! We will surely see more kids taking up the royal game. 
Is it really possible to hold such a huge event with more than 600 players?
Well, for that we will have to wait and watch! 
But as of now Abhijit Kunte, Praful Zaveri and the Indian Chess School team can be proud for having conducted this event in a flawless manner!

The official website of Indian Chess School : http://www.indianchessschool.com/

About the Author:

Sagar Shah has an elo of 2304 and 2 IM norms to his credit. His main aim is to become a GM in chess as well as a professional chess journalist. He loves to cover chess tournaments as that helps him to understand the game of chess, that he loves so much, even better.
Sagar Shah's Blog: www.sagarteacheschess.blogspot.com.

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  1. hats off sir... with every report after reading respect for u increases... u go really in depth and it gives good knowledge and insight to the reader.... thanks for the knowledge do keep writing for readers like us... thank u very much... hope to c u soon...its been 6 years after we met @ dindigul....

  2. Yes, he has thought of the Vishy Anand idea before!! :D Of course, that idea isnt discarded yet, im sure!! :p