Thursday, February 5, 2015

First year of Marriage in recap!

I got married to Amruta Mokal on the 5th of February 2014. It has been exactly a year since we have come together and we have had many memorable events. Here I would like to recount the memories that have made our first year of marriage so special and exciting! (mind you, most of them are chess related!)

After five and a half years of relationship, I tied the mangalsutra around Amruta's neck and became her husband at 10.15 am on 5th of February 2014! (the watch on my left hand tells me the accurate time!)

The wedding was held in Pune but we had a small wedding party in Mumbai on 7th of February where we burnt the dance floor with our moves!

If you love water, there couldn't be a better place than Mauritius to go for your honeymoon! White sand, clean water and blue skies!

Valentine's Day co-incides with your honeymoon = good planning!

Being competitive is in our blood! It doesn't matter if you are in chess tournament or honeymoon, you just want to beat your opponent! 

Arun Karthik was the first of many chess players to visit our place after marriage!

While many people would be relaxing a few days into the marriage, we were already eating, drinking and "sleeping" chess!

My first tournament after marriage which was small local rapid tournament ended successfully with the first place

Flanked by two of the best rapid players of Mumbai

While Amruta tried her hand at cooking....

....It was quite apparent where her real talented lied!

Along with coaching some of the cutest and talented kids, Amruta started developing a keen interest in....

...Chess Photography!

She had the patience and ability to capture the moments which really is not easy

This would later on haunt many players as Amruta started capturing pictures at many chess tournaments!

Our first tournament after marriage was the Kolkata Open in March 2014 where I played and Amruta took pictures! Together we reported for the ChessBase website.

We wrote two reports for ChessBase and they were highly appreciated by people all over the world. 
Oliver Barbosa conquers Kolkata 2014
Players and personalities at the Kolkata Open

This was the start of our collaboration as a writer and photographer for many reports on ChessBase.

There were many amazing pictures taken by Amruta but if I had to choose one it would be this one! All GMs and all of them supremely talented!

Amruta's prowess at chess coaching was quite apparent as she would not only teach her kids openings, middlegames and endgames but also how to prepare against specific opponents using ChessBase software.

Meanwhile in the breaks I would enjoy playing Simul blitz!

My saturday group class! 

Amruta and I kept ourselves in "chess shape" by playing in various rapids across the city of Mumbai

This picture is very special as Amruta is receiving a prize in a chess tournament for the first time after marriage

Two of Amruta's best friends: Soumya Swaminathan (left) and Ketaki Kulkarni

Matching wits against each other! Soumya gave us a very nice first anniversary present when she wrote a wonderful article on her blog entitled: "My best friend's wedding - how I didn't make it!"

One of the very interesting incidents that happened when Soumya was at our place: We were solving a chess quiz sent to us by Vishal Sareen. If you look carefully at the question, you will understand why this was such a huge co-incidence!

At the Mayor's cup in June 2014, Amruta was once again behind the lens and we prepared three excellent reports for ChessBase

Pantsulaia wins Mumbai Mayor's cup 2014
Impressions from Mumbai Mayor's cup (part I)
Impressions from Mumabi Mayor's cup (part II) (this is a very interesting report!)

This turned out to be Amruta's masterpiece. She stood next to this little girl (Sia) for almost ten minutes capturing her various expressions. One of the comments on ChessBase said: "This picture made me review my decision of not having a family!"

In June 2014 we went to Barcelona, Spain in order to participate in four tournaments in the Catalan circuit. We stayed as a paying guest in a small room for 53 days but the view from the balcony was simply exhilarating!

In the second tournament, Barbera Del Valles Open I scored my final IM norm. The credit for this goes entirely to Amruta. This was the second tournament of the circuit and Amruta decided to drop playing it partly because of tiredness and partly because she wanted to help me. She would prepare food for both of us and while I played, she would analyze the games sitting at home (as the games were shown live) and then tell me the mistakes I had made when I was back. This really helped me to play well and get a 2532 Elo performance!

8th August was Amruta's 28th birthday! Our strict owner, Maria, had a change of heart that day! She baked a lovely cake for Amruta and me which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Enjoying the night life of Barcelona outside the Casino!

If you go to Spain, it is imperative that you drink Sangria!

Next we went to Dresden, Germany where we had a wonderful time visiting different places in the city! Our favourite was the Grosser Garten (Huge garden) seen above. 

Viktor Lvovich Korchnoi! I have no photograph with him but the pen he is trying to grasp from is my hand and....

And this autograph is the proof that I met him!

With this final round draw I won the ZMDI festival. The amazing thing about this picture is that Amruta who was playing her own game, immediately got up from her seat when she saw that my game was completed and rushed over to take a photograph of this moment! Truly amazing!

That proud moment of winning a tournament on foreign soil and holding the Indian tricolour!

Though I made my IM title, maiden GM norm and won a tournament, I would say that a two day stay at Frederic and Ingrid Friedel's place was the most memorable event of the trip!

Amruta and Frederic in the middle of one of their big arguments whether homeopathy can cure people or not!

The visit to the ChessBase headquarters in Hamburg was unbelievable. It was for the first time I saw people working on chess in a company! How wonderful to earn your livelihood through this beautiful game! In the picture I am just astounded by the number of DVDs that were stacked up in different compartments. 

We together recorded a chess clip of almost 15 minutes! From the backgrounf you can obviously recognize that this is the same place where people like Kasparov, Anand or Kramnik had recorded their DVDs!!

On the way back to India we had a stop over at Paris for nine hours and we couldn't miss the opportunity of going to one of the most romantic places in the world, the Eiffel tower!

A huge honour for Amruta and me after coming back from the foreign trip was to be invited as a chief guest at my alma matar, Fatima High School on Teacher's day

Nearly 1500 students were present in the auditorium! It was a big throwback to the times when I would be one among those kids sitting there and listening to Chief Guest's speech with great attention!

There wasn't any time to waste! On the same evening we left for Goa. Amruta was going to participate in the Women's National Challengers. I went with her as her second! It was nostalgic to see the same park in Madgaon where we both had met each other in 2008 during Men's National B!

The tournament was triumphantly won by Nisha Mohota (left). For Amruta it was a little unlucky as she finished 12th and eleven players qualified for the National Premier!

Amruta's photography at its best! When you are in Goa it is natural to enjoy the nice climate of Panaji and....

....visit the Casino!

But more than playing, we both relished the food so much that we have decided to go every time to Delt Inn Royale just to enjoy their diverse cuisines!

World Juniors 2014 in Pune turned out to be a nice event for us. Amruta captured some amazing pictures while I was one of the official commentators

Here I have selected Amruta's three best pictures from the World Juniors:

The smiles of me and Abhijit give this picture a nice touch but it's Soumya's expression that makes it spectacular!

"See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil!"

If you see closely, all the players are shaking hands with their opponents! Perfect timing!

Amruta's pictures of the World Juniors were published in one of the prime chess magazines, New in Chess, in their eighth issue of 2014

A proud moment for both of us indeed to have her name alongside many famous photographers

A small part of our unusual wedding was covered in most popular fashion magazines of India called Femina! This was published under the heading of an "Unusual bride". This is what they wrote:

"Amruta Mokal and Sagar Shah are international level chess players. And to share their passion for the game with the world, they had their wedding styled in a chess theme this February in Pune. Right from their invitation cards, wedding rings to the venue- everything was decorated with chess accessories. The event was also single-handedly funded (managed) by Amruta. She opted to not wear any gold jewellery either (or accept any from the groom's family. She wanted to set an example for people, especially the underprivileged who undergo a lot of stress to fulfill the so-called customs of the society. Moreover, she wore a sari that she snagged for just Rs.800!"

The Dadar Railway Station! The only real outing where we consciously decided to stay away from the 64 squares and 32 pieces for 12 hours! It was on 13th of November on the rest day of the Carlsen-Anand match! 

Enjoying Paan!

Now that's a huge Bhatura!

The eventful year 2014 ended with Amruta winning the best women's prize at the Al-Ain Classic 2014. In this picture all the other participants are GMs with a rating of nearly 2600! 

Al Ain main tournament was not so great for both of us but we made the place special when on the last day I managed to take an interview of one of the best chess players in the world, Ivan Sokolov.

Interview with Ivan Sokolov (1/2)
Interview with Ivan Sokolov (2/2)

New year's eve: Wife + Chess, two things I love the most! 

Year 2015 began wonderfully for me as I won a local rapid tournament at Aeroli which had a pretty decent prize money ($350)

On this glass wall are all the great people we have been with. They include Vishy and Aruna Anand, Judit Polgar, Frederic Friedel, Mark Dvoretsky, Baadur Jobava, Pentala Harikrishna, Surya Shekhar Ganguly. The list I am sure will increase in the days to come.

In January the Friedels were in Mumbai and we spent wonderful five days together

At Tiger's leap in Lonavala

Republic Day celebrations! Look at the colour of the clothes of the students!

A crazy family!

Which is not so crazy after all!

The perks of getting married- you get a new family! :)

The first 365 days of my marriage were filled with loads of fun and excitement. Sure, we have had our share of ups and downs together but overall the journey has been extremely enjoyable. I hope that the second year will be equally interesting and hopefully I will be sharing these stories and anecdotes with you on 5th of February 2016! :) 
Till then, thanks to all the readers who have showered us with blessings and good wishes!