Do you recognize the person in the above picture? Here are some clues:
1. He is a Russian
2. He became a GM without attaining the IM title!
3. He beat Garry Kasparov in 2000 to become the 14th undisputed World Chess Champion.
4. I can see most of you getting irritated because you recognized him instantly and never required the clues!
Yes, friends, I am talking about the one and only Vladimir Kramnik. One of the best chess players to have ever graced this game. Kramnik is such a legend in the game of chess that whenever a player wants to learn about positional chess, the best advice a coach can give him is, "Go and study the games of Vladimir Kramnik."
The same was the case with a young Indian GM, Shyam Sundar.
Shyam is 22-years-old and has a rating of 2484
Shyam learnt a lot from Kramnik's games when he was young. On 27th November came the day, when he was paired against the legend in the second round of the Qatar Open 2014. As Shyam himself said before the game: "I have many times used Kramnik's ideas in my opening preparation and today I have to prepare against him!"
Playing a chess legend and a player you have immense respect for is never easy! Kramnik's achievements and technique are enough to intimidate any player, not to mention that the he has a towering height of more than six feet (an article mentions that he is 6' 6").
But fighting all his fears and admiration for the opponent, Shyam played a terrific game and fought hard with the Russian giant, posing him enough problems and drawing the game with black pieces. What is particularly impressive is that Kramnik was in a creative mood and hence played an irregular setup that had no theory involved. Shyam managing to hold his own in such original positions against such an experienced player speaks volumes about his talent! Have a look at this crazy game:
Seeing this game, one of the top Russian women players, Natalia Pogonina, made a nice tweet:
This position looks like a game between two kids who don't how to castle! :) Who is better (no engine please) ? pic.twitter.com/huSUtYoNHi
— Natalia Pogonina (@Pogonina) November 27, 2014
Vladimir Kramnik vs Shyam Sundar
A dead drawn endgame against Vladimir Kramnik!- GM Erwin L'Ami looks shocked!
The above two pictures were taken by Dmitry Rukhletskiy
What Shyam has achieved is really unbelievable. I think we should congratulate him because even the best players in the world have struggled to make a draw against the Big Vlad with the black pieces!
Shyam, Me and Swapnil at Varna, Bulgaria in 2013
The quality that I love most about Shyam is that he extremely down to earth and a very humble person. He is a true lover of the game of chess and works really hard at it. He is one of the very few GMs who would prefer chess to any other interests and pass-times in life.
In our personal encounters, Shyam has never been kind to me!
My personal score against Shyam is a dismal 2.5-0.5 but I will not let that come in the way of wishing him all the best for the remaining rounds of the Qatar Open! All the best Shyam!
For all those who want to improve their game, I would highly recommend these two things:
This is a brilliant book entitled "Kramnik- My life and games". The games are all annotated by Kramnik himself and Magnus Carlsen has praised this book by saying that it has had a huge impact on his chess.
You can buy the book from the top most left corner of the blog.
This is a must have ChessBase DVD in which Kramnik talks about his path to the top and how he toppled Garry Kasparov to become the world's greatest player.
You can watch a video clip from the DVD over here:
You can buy the Kramnik DVD from here.
Some of the pictures by Amruta Mokal