How grandmasters think

by Sagar Shah
3/10/2015 – As reported in a previous article the recently concluded Indian National Team Championships fielded super-strong players. During the event our reporter in Goa, Sagar Shah, did something unique: he asked top players to select a special moment from their games and explain what had gone through their minds at that point. Their thought processes are provided as video commentary.

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How grandmasters think

Report from Goa by Sagar Shah

The 35th Indian National Team Championship and the 13th National Women Team Championship were held from the 20th to 26th of February in Panaji, Goa, located on the western coast. Goa is the smallest state of India, however, in terms of per capita GDP the richest state in the country.

As reported in my previous article the National Team Championships were won convincingly by the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) in the Open as well as the women section. The Open team had an amazing rating average of 2616 and included super strong players like B. Adhiban, Surya Shekhar Ganguly, Vidit Gujrathi , Abhijeet Gupta and Murali Karthikeyan. The PSPB women’s team too had two stars in former World Junior Champion WGM Soumya Swaminathan and innumerable times National Champion IM Nisha Mohota.

After the tournament was over we did something unique. The players were asked select one of those moments from their game which was crucial according to them. They were then asked to explain their thought process during that position and how they made a specific decision.

These positions are now presented to you and the answers to them in the form of videos analysis of these players. This was done with the sole intention of getting the readers of ChessBase to know how these great players think during the game. The best way to benefit from these videos is to think over a given position for a few minutes, get acquainted with it, and then listen to the protagonists speak.

Surya Shekhar Ganguly

A voracious calculator on the chess board, Surya Shekhar Ganguly has been amongst the best players of the country for a long time now. He was a member of Vishy Anand’s team for many years and helped him to defend World Championship titles against Kramnik, Topalov and Gelfand. Ganguly has also scored wins against strong players like Svidler, Aronian, Wojtaszek, Naiditsch etc.

Ganguly vs Akshat Khamparia

White to play

Your task is to come up with an effective idea for the White side. Once you have done that you can view the meticulous way in which Ganguly analyses.

[Event "35th National Team Chess Championship- "] [Site "Caritas Goa Holiday Home, NR,"] [Date "2015.02.23"] [Round "6.4"] [White "Ganguly, Surya Shekhar"] [Black "Akshat, Khamparia"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B35"] [WhiteElo "2595"] [BlackElo "2415"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r3r1k1/1p3pbp/p1nqbnp1/3p4/3N4/1BNQB2P/PPP2PP1/3RR1K1 w - - 0 15"] [PlyCount "7"] [EventDate "2015.02.20"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "IND"] [WhiteTeam "Petroleum Sports Promotion Board"] [BlackTeam "Railways - B"] 15. Bg5 Bd7 (15... Nxd4 16. Qxd4 Ng4 (16... Ne4 17. Nxe4 $18) 17. Qf4 Be5 ( 17... Qxf4 18. Bxf4 $14) 18. Rxe5 Nxe5 (18... Qxe5 19. hxg4 $18) 19. Bf6 Bf5 ( 19... Nc4 20. Qh4 $1 Qc5 21. Bxc4 dxc4 22. g4 $3 $18 {[%cal Gc3e4,Ge4g5]}) 20. Nxd5 $18) (15... Ne4 $2 16. Nxe6 Nxc3 (16... Bxc3 17. Rxe4 $18) 17. Nxg7 Nxd1 18. Nxe8 $18) (15... Ng4 16. Nf3 (16. Nxe6 Qh2+ 17. Kf1 Nd4 $3 $19) 16... Nge5 17. Nxe5 Nxe5 18. Qg3 $14) (15... Nd7 16. Nxe6 fxe6 17. Nxd5 exd5 18. Rxe8+ Rxe8 19. Qxd5+ Qxd5 20. Bxd5+ Kh8 21. Bxc6 $16) 16. Rxe8+ Rxe8 17. Nxc6 Bxc6 ( 17... bxc6 18. Qxa6 $14) 18. Be3 $14 1-0

B. Adhiban

Dubbed as the most talented youngster in India, Adhiban is just 22 years old but already flaunts a rating of 2630. He has won many international events, most notable being the Sants Open in Barcelona in 2013 and Biel Open in 2014. Just a few days ago he beat Wei Yi, who is the youngest player to have crossed the Elo of 2700.

B. Adhiban vs P. Karthikeyan

White to play. Adhiban asks the readers to come up with a plan for White.
What exactly must White do here in order to gain the initiative?

[Event "35th National Team Chess Championship- 2"] [Site "Caritas Goa Holiday Home, NR, "] [Date "2015.02.23"] [Round "5.1"] [White "Adhiban, B."] [Black "Karthikeyan, P."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E55"] [WhiteElo "2630"] [BlackElo "2442"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r1br2k1/1p1nqppp/p3pn2/2p5/PbBP4/1QN1PN2/1P3PPP/R1BR2K1 w - - 0 12"] [PlyCount "5"] [EventDate "2015.02.20"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "IND"] [WhiteTeam "Petroleum Sports Promotion Board"] [BlackTeam "Railways - A"] 12. dxc5 (12. Bd2) 12... Bxc5 13. e4 Nb6 (13... Ng4 14. Bg5 $1 Bxf2+ 15. Kf1 Qc5 (15... Ndf6 16. h3 Ne3+ 17. Kxf2 Nxd1+ 18. Rxd1 $16) (15... f6 16. Bxe6+ Kh8 17. Bxg4 fxg5 18. Kxf2) 16. Bxd8 Ne3+ 17. Ke2 Nxc4 18. a5 $1 $18) 14. Bg5 $14 1-0

IM Nisha Mohota

Apart from being an International Master Nisha Mohota is an extremely lively person. In her inimitable style she shows you a position in her game against a 1800 player where she botches up a very simple win. There is a wonderful message that Nisha wants to convey through this endgame that she shows.

Nisha Mohota vs C. Sunyukhta

White to play and win

[Event "National Teams 2015, Goa"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.02.23"] [Round "4.2"] [White "Nisha, Mohota"] [Black "Sunyukhta, C M N."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [WhiteElo "2278"] [BlackElo "1791"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6k1/5pp1/4p1P1/1pK1PP2/1B2P3/P2b4/8/8 w - - 0 1"] [PlyCount "6"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] 1. Kd6 $1 Bxe4 (1... exf5 2. gxf7+ Kxf7 3. Kd7 Bc4 4. exf5 $18) (1... fxg6 2. fxe6 $18) 2. Ke7 fxg6 3. fxe6 (3. fxg6 Bxg6 $11) (3. f6 $1 $18) 3... Bf5 $11 1/2-1/2

Pictures by Amruta Mokal


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Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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