Ojas' journey: 400 rating points in 37 days!

by Priyadarshan Banjan
8/1/2016 – Imagine you are a player rated 2000. How would you feel if one month later, your rating would be 2400+? Ojas Kulkarni from Bangalore, Karnataka, has pulled off something incredible in the bygone 37 days. In four tournaments, all part of the Catalonian circuit in Spain, Ojas has gained 400 points. We have a brief coverage with games and analysis. And we reveal the secret of his remarkable progress!

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Ojas' journey: 400 rating points in 37 days!

By Priyadarshan Banjan - 30 July 2016

Have you ever imagined what it would be like if you increased 400 Elo rating points in one month?

Let us be more precise. Imagine you are a player rated 2000. How would you feel if one month later your rating would be 2400+? Ojas Kulkarni from Bangalore, Karnataka, has pulled off something incredible in the bygone 37 days. He has jumped from 2000 Elo to 2405 Elo, in four tournaments, all part of the Catalonian circuit in Spain.

Ojas is a 17-year-old student from Bangalore in Karnataka. He received his first published rating of 1418 in November 2010, when he was around eleven. He has had an adventurous time in the chess world, especially after the arrival of the k=40 era for under-18 players, where successes alternated with failures. But he kept moving ahead anyway.

Playing him, one gets an impression that he is a very solid player, hardly making concessions in his game. He won't win too many games, but he won't lose too many either. Good knowledge of endgames and sharp calculation skills have made sure that he has held or beaten some very strong titled players.

Towards the end of June, Ojas travelled to Spain to play in the Catalonian circuit, where he was competing in four tournaments. He increased 143 Elo in Montcada, 54 Elo in Barbera del Valles, and 98 in Sant Marti. In the ongoing tournament in Sitges, he is already increasing about 105 Elo.

[Event "Montcada Spain 2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.06.28"] [Round "?"] [White "Ojas, Kulkarni"] [Black "Hapala, Elisabeth"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "2000"] [BlackElo "2227"] [PlyCount "75"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Bd3 Nbd7 6. Nge2 c5 7. d5 Ne5 8. O-O (8. Bb1 $5 {Wanted to play this to maintain pieces the maximum number of pieces on the board} a6 $1 (8... Nxc4 9. Qa4+) (8... Qa5 9. b3 b5 $5 10. cxb5 a6 11. bxa6 Bxa6 $44) 9. b3 (9. f4 Nxc4 10. Qa4+ b5 11. Nxb5 Nb6 $1 (11... Bd7 12. Nc7+ Qxc7 13. Qxc4 e6 $17) 12. Nxd6+ Kf8 13. Nxf7 Kxf7 14. Qc2 $17) 9... b5 $44) 8... O-O 9. f4 Nxd3 10. Qxd3 Nd7 $6 {She was unable to find a plan} 11. Be3 {Did not think much here. Just developed my pieces i was aiming to put Ng3 and then e5 followed by f5} a6 12. a4 a5 $2 13. Ng3 Nb8 14. e5 dxe5 15. f5 Na6 (15... Nd7 16. Nce4 Qb6 (16... Qc7 17. d6 exd6 18. f6 Bh8 19. Nf5 gxf5 20. Rxf5 Re8 21. Nxd6 Nxf6 22. Rxf6 Bxf6 23. Nxe8 Qc6 24. Nxf6+ Qxf6 25. Qd5 $16) 17. d6 exd6 18. f6 Bh8 19. Nf5 $18 gxf5 (19... Re8 20. Ne7+ Rxe7 21. fxe7 $18) 20. Bxc5 Qxc5+ 21. Nxc5 dxc5 22. Qg3+) 16. Nce4 gxf5 (16... Qb6 17. b3 (17. Nxc5 $6 Nxc5 18. Qa3 gxf5 19. Bxc5 Qg6 20. Bxe7 f4 $1 $15 21. Ne2 Bg4 {Black gets some play}) 17... Bd7 18. d6 exd6 19. Rad1 d5 20. cxd5 f6 21. Rc1 $16) 17. Nxf5 Bxf5 18. Rxf5 $16 e6 $2 19. Nf6+ $1 Bxf6 20. Rh5 Re8 (20... e4 21. Qxe4 h6 22. Qg4+ Bg5 23. Bxg5 $18) (20... h6 21. Rxh6 Re8 22. Qh7+ Kf8 23. Rf1 $18) 21. Qxh7+ Kf8 22. Rf1 exd5 23. Bh6+ Ke7 24. Rxf6 Kxf6 (24... Kd7 25. Bg5 Kc8 26. Rxa6 Rxa6 27. Bxd8 Kxd8) 25. Bg5+ Ke6 26. Bxd8 Raxd8 27. Qf5+ Kd6 28. Qxf7 Re6 29. Qxb7 Nb4 30. Rh7 Ree8 31. Qb6+ (31. Qc7+ Ke6 32. Qf7+ Kd6 33. Rh6+ Re6 34. Rxe6#) 31... Nc6 32. Rh6+ (32. Qc7+ Ke6 33. Qf7+ Kd6 34. Qxd5#) 32... Re6 33. Rxe6+ Kxe6 34. Qxc6+ Kf5 35. cxd5 Ke4 36. d6+ Ke3 37. d7 e4 38. Qc7 1-0

[Event "XVIII Obert Internacional Sant Martí 2"] [Site "Barcelona. Carrer Selva de Ma"] [Date "2016.07.19"] [Round "?"] [White "Gavrish, Leonid"] [Black "Ojas, Kulkarni"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteElo "2158"] [BlackElo "2006"] [PlyCount "70"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Nf3 c5 8. Be3 Qa5 9. Qd2 O-O 10. Rc1 Rd8 11. d5 e6 12. c4 Qxd2+ 13. Nxd2 Na6 14. Nb3 $6 b6 15. Be2 (15. Bd3 Nb4 16. Bb1 Bb2 17. Rd1 Ba6 18. Nd2 Rac8 $17) 15... Nb4 16. a3 Na2 17. Rc2 Nc3 18. Bd3 (18. Bf3 $2 exd5 19. cxd5 (19. exd5 Bf5 20. Rc1 Na2 21. Rd1 Bc2) 19... f5 $1 20. Nd2 (20. exf5 Bxf5) 20... Ba6 21. exf5 gxf5 $19) 18... Ba6 19. Nc1 f5 20. exf5 (20. Bg5 fxe4 21. Bf1 (21. Bxd8 exd3 22. Nxd3 Rxd8) (21. Be2 Nxe2 22. Nxe2 exd5 23. Bxd8 Rxd8 24. cxd5 Rxd5 25. O-O Rd3 $19) 21... Rd6 $19 {is simple} (21... exd5 22. Bxd8 Rxd8 23. cxd5 Bxf1 24. Kxf1 Rxd5 $17)) 20... exd5 21. fxg6 (21. cxd5 Bxd3 22. Nxd3 Nxd5 (22... Rxd5 23. Nb2 Rxf5 ) 23. Bg5 Re8+ 24. Kf1 gxf5 $19) 21... dxc4 $1 (21... hxg6 $5) 22. gxh7+ Kh8 23. Be2 (23. Bf1 Rd1#) 23... Nxe2 24. Nxe2 (24. Kxe2 c3+ 25. Kf3 Kxh7 $19) 24... Rd3 25. a4 (25. O-O Rxa3 $19) 25... Ra3 26. O-O c3 27. Rd1 Bc4 $1 28. Nc1 Ra1 29. Rd7 Re8 30. g4 Bb3 31. Rxg7 Bxc2 (31... Rxe3 $1) 32. Rxa7 Rxe3 33. fxe3 Rxc1+ 34. Kf2 Be4 35. a5 c2 0-1

[Event "42 Open Internacional d'Escacs Sitges "] [Site "Barcelona. Carrer Selva de Ma"] [Date "2016.07.22"] [Round "?"] [White "Ojas, Kulkarni"] [Black "Olivares Canelles, Francisco"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "2006"] [BlackElo "2322"] [PlyCount "95"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Nf3 b6 5. Bd2 O-O 6. e3 Bb7 7. Bd3 d6 8. O-O Nbd7 9. a3 Bxc3 10. Bxc3 c5 $6 (10... Ne4 $1 11. Be1 c5 12. Nd2) 11. b4 Rc8 ( 11... Ne4 12. Bb2 $14 (12. Bxe4 $5 Bxe4 13. dxc5 dxc5 14. Qd6 $14)) 12. Qe2 Re8 13. Rfd1 Qc7 14. Rac1 Qb8 15. Bb1 (15. dxc5 bxc5 (15... dxc5 16. Bxh7+ $1 Kxh7 17. Ng5+ Kg6 (17... Kg8 18. Rxd7) 18. f4 Re7 19. Qc2+ Kh6 20. Qf2 $16) 16. Nd2 $14) 15... cxd4 (15... Qa8 $2 16. dxc5 dxc5 (16... bxc5 17. Rxd6) (16... Bxf3 17. Qxf3 Qxf3 18. gxf3 dxc5 19. Bc2 $16) 17. Ng5 $5 $16 {This is what i intended} (17. Ne5) 17... h6 18. Nh7) (15... h6 16. dxc5 bxc5 (16... dxc5 17. Bc2) 17. e4 d5 (17... Qa8 18. Rxd6) 18. cxd5 exd5 19. Bxf6 Nxf6 20. bxc5 dxe4 21. Nd4 $14) 16. Nxd4 a6 (16... Ne5 17. Nb5) (16... Ba6 17. Bb2 $14) 17. Bb2 Ne5 18. Nb3 d5 19. c5 Neg4 20. g3 (20. f4 $5 $16) 20... b5 21. h3 Ne5 22. f4 Ned7 23. Na5 Bc6 24. e4 dxe4 $2 (24... Kh8 25. Nxc6 Rxc6 26. Rd2) (24... d4 25. Nxc6 Rxc6 26. e5 (26. Bxd4 e5) 26... Nd5 27. Rxd4 $18) 25. Nxc6 Rxc6 26. Rxd7 Nxd7 27. Qxe4 Rc7 28. Qxh7+ Kf8 29. Qxg7+ Ke7 30. Qg5+ f6 31. Qg7+ Kd8 32. Bg6 Rf8 33. Rd1 Kc8 34. Rxd7 Rxd7 35. Qxf8+ Rd8 36. Qxf6 Qc7 37. Qxe6+ Kb7 38. Be5 Rd1+ 39. Kf2 Qd8 40. Be4+ Ka7 41. Qb6+ (41. Bd6 Rxd6 42. cxd6 Qb6+ 43. Kf3 Qb8 44. Qe7+ Kb6 45. d7 a5 46. d8=Q+ Qc7 47. Qexc7+ Ka6 48. Qxa5#) 41... Qxb6 42. cxb6+ Kxb6 43. h4 Rd2+ 44. Kf3 Ra2 45. h5 Rxa3+ 46. Kg4 Ra2 47. h6 Rh2 48. h7 1-0

1418 Elo to 2405 in less than six years. How did he do it?

Ojas credits his success to his coaches and ChessBase DVDs. "I have worked with GM Abhijit Kunte, GM Vishnu Prasanna and V. Raghavendra of the Karnataka School of Chess."

ChessBase Fritztrainers have been an integral part of every player's arsenal for decades now. Ojas is no different. "The DVDs related to openings and middlegame are very valuable. The Power Play DVDs have helped a lot. Especially the ones related to pawn structures (3, 5 and 15) are very useful," Ojas said. The Power Play series is suitable for anyone looking to improve their chess but also provides ready-made lessons and exercises for a trainer.

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Power Play 05: Pawns

You might be a brilliant tactician or a fearsome attacker, but you won’t always be able to apply these skills when you play. If a game takes on a quieter nature, it is crucial that you develop an understanding of pawn structures, pawn play and pawn weaknesses. In this fifth Power Play DVD, Daniel King discusses strong and weak pawn structures, isolated pawns and pawn islands, how to create pawn weaknesses, how to cramp a pawn structure, the power of centre pawns…and much more. Remember, weak pawns can decide the game. At the end of the DVD you can test your understanding of pawn play and pawn structures by examining a series of specially selected test positions.

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Power Play 15: Practical Pawn Endgames

"The PowerPlay DVD series by GM Daniel King is one of the most successful chess instruction tools today." – New In Chess (Magazine Shop). The aim of this DVD is to provide you with the practical skills and knowledge that you will need to play a king and pawn endgame. Based on his own playing experience, Grandmaster Daniel King reveals what is essential knowledge, saving you time in your studies. In the first section of the DVD he takes you through typical motifs and themes. In the second section, he tests your knowledge with typical scenarios from actual games.

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Priyadarshan Banjan is a 23-year-old club player from India. He works as an editor for ChessBase News and ChessBase India. He is a chess fanatic and an avid fan of Vishy Anand. He also maintains a blog on a variety of topics.
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paznomundo paznomundo 8/4/2016 10:33
For anyone who cares with some kind of sport truth, I will relate at happened in the game Gravish, Leonid - Ojas, Kulkarni, because, in my opinion, was the best game and with the most difficult decisions to be taken by the indian player. Beginning with the 12th move until the end of the game, every move was the 1st choice of the Fritz, except 2 moves that were the 2nd choice and 1 move that was neither 1st or 2nd, and it was 25...Ta3. I am talking of a universe of 23 moves, 20 were the 1st choice. Even the fantastic move 27...Bc4! the Fritz take almost 7minutes! to discovered it. A lot of moves were 1st choices only after several minutes to calculate it. I chalenge everyone to check this game and others, but don't wait just for 1 minute of the calculations of the machine. Wait several minutes for each move, and a surprise will be there!
Radena Radena 8/4/2016 05:27
He is brilliant after his hard work ("I have worked with GM Abhijit Kunte, GM Vishnu Prasanna and V. Raghavendra of the Karnataka School of Chess."). Don't be jealous. Congratulation! I think he is optimistic after his great achievement to gain GM in short time period! Go Go Ojas!
paznomundo paznomundo 8/4/2016 05:08
@Aighearach May be you are right, but I check the moves with the fritz and almost every move are 1st and 2nd choice of the fritz. May be it is a coincidence, and if it's so, I apologize for be worried with it and express it here. Of course I should be more honest like you and check just one game and use the Stokfish like you. BUT I am a dishonest guy that like to cast shadows over other fantastic players. In the future I will NOT spend 1h30m analysing games with the Fritz. I just will spend 10 minutes with the Stockfish, and will not ever ever think that there are dishonnest players, especcially from India playing in Spain. Because of this sin I should be doomed to never play again chess!
To play a very good chess in one tournament its normal. To play a very good chess in 4 tournaments in one month could be normal, if the player already prove in ancient tournaments that he was such a strong player. BUT to be truth I don't believe in miracles and I don't believe that there is a player that could improve almost 500 points in one year, not even players like Kasparov or Carlsen couldn't do it when they were younger. The strange is this player couldn't play as well in his home country.
BUT may be this case is an exception, and I hope that this player can continue improving in a good pace as he improved this year.
Aighearach Aighearach 8/3/2016 01:48
@paznomundo I put Ojas-Olivares above into stockfish starting on move 10, and it doesn't really think much of his moves. And, just that the moves are in the "top 2" or "top n" lines the computer evaluates doesn't tell you much, when it gives the top line +.5 and the move played only +.24, and the 3rd and 4th lines are only at +.21. So the computer analysis in that case suggests that he made a dubious move, not that he was using the computer for help. The novelty is by Ojas, and isn't even a top 4 line. His op makes weak, passive moves that don't really look very good even to a class player. You have moves like 12. ... Qb8 which is not even top 4 followed by Ojas playing Bb1, which is also not even top 4 moves. But it is a reasonable human move, because it keeps the bishop from getting underfoot. Don't trap yourself by using the computer in a non-thinking way. If you're leaning too hard on the computer for your analysis, you might then not even notice that the computer doesn't say what you want it to say. After all, you're not independently thinking, you're just looking at numbers and the screen and guessing what they might mean. Black makes a silly attack on white's king, there is nothing there, and it leaves white with a giant attack. There was no tricky computer move, just weak moves from his higher rated opponent. I've won and lost games with a much, much bigger rating difference when one of the players plays moves like that. Accusations require evidence, you claim something but it isn't backup up when I check it myself. The dishonest people are the ones making false accusations. People who are suspicious only are bad enough, trying to cast a shadow on other people without cause. But people making outright false accusations are much worse.
paznomundo paznomundo 8/3/2016 12:16
I analysed these games with the engine and all the moves I checked are the 1st and 2nd choice of the engine. That's not normal. Beside, if this player returned to his country nobody can confirm the fraud anymore. In a tournament a cheating player doesn´t call attention if he doesn't won against GMs and IMs. Some draws can be enough to win a good prize money and a lot of ELO points.
Aighearach Aighearach 8/3/2016 12:13
Eat up, @Ryan49. You're old enough to know how ratings work with kids, and how the math works if you're studying and improving but don't have access to tournaments; and then suddenly do have access to tournaments.
ARH2019 ARH2019 8/2/2016 11:52
they should investigate this. im not saying that it is not possible to get a 4000 point difference in just over a month, it is possible some people have really amazing tournments but this is crazy. sorry for spelling errors
ngn ngn 8/2/2016 04:45
So, in September we will see him at 2800.

Seriously, k-factor of 40 should be abolished. I can see the point behind it, but it really gives an unrealistic idea of these young player's strength. Earlier the "problem" was they were unrated but it's not a good solution to make them grossly overrated. Of course, I don't want to take anything away from this player - a very impressive achievement by him and IMO it's inappropriate to speculate he is cheating. Innocent, until proved otherwise.

MrTambourineMan, I can see your point about k-rating but how are ratings under 2200 "bluff" any more than ratings over 2200? Unless your argument is that because 2200 was the minimum rating in year X when the results of tournament were sent to FIDE by telefax or snail mail and some guy at FIDE office counted the new ELOs with a calculator, it should stay that way forever. But in year X, there was a practical reason to keep the minimum rating at 2200. Thanks to computers and Internet, there is no reason to define some arbitrary minimum ELO any more.
Mr TambourineMan Mr TambourineMan 8/2/2016 09:56
Who cares? Ratings under 2200 and k=40 are a bluffs anyway, just to earn FIDE some money. Now he has 2400+ and will be monitored. No problem. Whats more intresting to me is that the new generation doesnt read books and instead only look at videos. As an old one it still surprises me.
JiraiyaSama JiraiyaSama 8/2/2016 09:04
To all those people who are wildly accusing him of cheating: I've known him long enough, even played a tournament game with him, and I can assure you that he just works hard. Simple.
I know for a fact that he has worked harder on chess than I have in any field whatsoever in my life.
So, calm down. :)
GregEs GregEs 8/2/2016 06:15
This is easy for those below 20 years old. But very difficult for oldies like me. Rating increase is easy for this 17-year-old kid because that's how human body works. Fast on younger years and degrades on later years. Not cheating, it is normal for young players to shoot up their ratings especially with special training materials and also GM trainers like what this kid did.
Nostalgiac1972 Nostalgiac1972 8/2/2016 06:14
Ok let's make a joke out of it a bit: "Boy! look at his face in the pic. I bet he is all concentrated on... his hand searching for his microcomputer in his pocket which has disconnected!!!"
Ryan49 Ryan49 8/2/2016 03:46
400 rating points in 37 days? If he is not using a Computer I will eat my Chess pieces !
The_Tenant The_Tenant 8/2/2016 02:30
In regards to the cheating accusations, time will tell. All someone needs to do is run his games through an appropriate analysis app to check the likeliness of him using a computer. Shouldn't be too hard to do. But until then, it's probably best if we err on the side of caution and not throw around accusations arbitrarily. Do to so would only demonstrate ignorance.
kramniksdog kramniksdog 8/1/2016 10:35
Obvious computer cheater candidate
gadzuric gadzuric 8/1/2016 10:11
Tiger Lilov is on the case...
Aighearach Aighearach 8/1/2016 07:50
It is easy to achieve. I know this because I'm also from a backwater region with few players over 2000.

All you have to do is get to GM strength, and only have club tournaments to play in. Then, go to the big city and play some big tournaments. Rating shoots up really fast!

People who accuse "cheating" should be banned from rated play for unsportsmanlike conduct.
psamant psamant 8/1/2016 05:48
Well played. He is young and will improve with consistent practice. His games also allow us ordinary mortals a chance to smile at the moves. They seem much closer to us, both the good ones as well as the mistakes in these games. Sometimes the games of the very top players leave me cold... because the moves are so good that I can't even understand why they were played!
gmwdim gmwdim 8/1/2016 05:19
Cheating accusations in 3...2...1...
Ohanessian Ohanessian 8/1/2016 03:56
That's because the K-40 it's a shame.
paznomundo paznomundo 8/1/2016 03:33
I believe this player is a fraud. His moves are equal to the machine 1st choice and 2nd choice. Poor opponents, they didn't have chance. I hope someone investigate this guy.
KOTLD KOTLD 8/1/2016 01:57
This is phenomenal. I wish we all could achieve this.