Personalities at the Indian Team Championships

by Sagar Shah
3/11/2015 – This event has a meagre prize fund but attracts a very high calibre of players. You can encounter the cream of Indian chess, future champions, players with incredible life stories. We dealt with the games and results of the Team Championships in previous reports, in today's big pictorial we get to meet some of the personalities that are making the country the next great superpower of chess.

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Personalities at the Indian National Team Championships

Report from Goa by Sagar Shah

The National Team Championships is one of the most important events in the Indian calendar. No wonder, so many big names were present in Goa. These pictures will not only acquaint you with some of the champions of Indian chess but also with the arbiters, organizers: the main reason why chess in India is flourishing, the rising stars of the nation, and also one person who is sure to motivate each and every person who is reading this.

WGM Soumya Swaminathan has been the National Junior as well as Women’s champion on numerous occasions. But, definitely her biggest achievement is becoming the World Junior Girls Champion in 2009, Argentina. She won the best player prize on the first board in the tournament.

The most eligible bachelor, but not for long! Soon GM Deepan Chakravarthy is to tie the knot

WGM Aarthie Ramaswamy (left) and IM Vijayalakshmi (right) have many national titles to their name but they have something else in common: both of them are married to grandmasters! Aarthie’s husband GM R. B. Ramesh is one of the best coaches in India and was also the official commentator of the Anand-Carlsen match that was held in Chennai 2013. Vijayalakshmi is married to...

... GM Sriram Jha. Together they are the strongest chess couple in India: Elo average 2365!

Meenakshi Subbaraman, with her best player trophy on fifth board

IM Tania Sachdev, the superstar of Indian chess. For 0.001% of the readers who do not know her, Tania is one of the most popular players of the country and recently was hosting the prestigious Gibraltar Chess Festival. Apart from being an excellent player, Tania is a wonderful tutor as you can witness first hand by having a look at her two instructive ChessBase DVDs:

Improve your Tactics/Chess

by Tania Sachdev

"My first DVD focused on various strategic middlegame themes and concepts, but in this second installment, the focus is on tactics – for after all, strategy and tactics go hand in hand, and playing strategically often leads to a resounding combinative finish. But for that to happen, you have to be able to build up positions through which tactics can flow – and this is exactly what I have illustrated on the DVD with a number of examples. The aim of this course is to help you understand how you to make tactical opportunities arise as well as to sharpen your tactical vision – these selected lectures will help to foster your overall tactical understanding. You can never spend too little time solving combinations and studies to improve your calculating abilities!"

• Video running time: four hours
• With interactive training including video feedback
• Database with more tactical examples
• Including CB 12 Reader

Order "Improve your Tactics with Taina Sachdev" in the ChessBase Shop

Even less-experienced chess players have learnt how to develop their pieces in the opening or even know certain opening variations by heart. But when the middlegame starts, they don’t know how to judge positions and develop their play – and their chess stagnates. On this DVD, well-known Indian WGM Tania Sachdev shows you how to evaluate certain positions and then find the right concepts and plans on the basis of her own games. Sachdev explains her own thoughts and recounts how she arrived at successful decisions and, as a result, played good moves. These illustrative and instructive examples explain a lot of the basic elements of middlegame play, such as pawn structures, piece play and making the right exchanges. The games cover a broad spectrum of themes and are aimed at those looking to generally improve their middlegame play. At the end you can test your progress and understanding with an interactive quiz.

• Video running time: four hours 50 min (English)
• With interactive training including video feedback
• Including CB 12 Reader

Order "Improve your Chess with Tania Sachdev" in the ChessBase Shop

No time to waste! The speed king of India, GM R. R. Laxman. The Chennai player has slowed down a little nowadays, but earlier he used to win his games without even thinking! [Picture by Rajesh Nattakom]

In the past few years the number of GMs in India has been constantly on the rise. That trend won’t really stop because there are many players in the country who have already made their required three GM norms. They only need to reach 2500 to achieve the coveted title. Here are some of them:

M. S. Thejkumar (2438) is a positional genius. His technique of converting
better positions is simply flawless. No wonder people call him the Indian Smyslov.

In 2005, Srinath Narayanan won the Under-12 World Championships along with Sanan Sjugirov, Ter Sahakyan Samvel and Wesley So. Today the other three are extremely strong GMs with one of them boasting an Elo of 2788! As for Srinath, the road to the top has not been easy. But one cannot deny the extreme amount of talent he possesses. He is currently rated 2456, but I won’t be surprised if he crosses 2550 in a year!

It is said that when Swapnil Dhopade (2438) was young he read a book on the best games of Anatoly Karpov. Ever since he has been beating his opponents in the style of a boa constrictor!

P. Karthikeyan (2442) is an extremely versatile player. One day you go to his board and you see pieces flying in all directions with mind boggling complications, and on the next day you see him playing a calm, steady and rock solid positional game! It’s this flexibility which makes him a dangerous opponent to face.

And now for the future of Indian chess: the boy whose hands can hardly reach across the chess board: Leon Luke Mendonca (1724), the nine-year-old boy who won the bronze medal at the Under-8 World Youth Chess Championship, 2014.

Out of the five board prizes, three went to the eventual winners PSPB. However, the remaining two were won by two players from the same team: Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL).

Hemal Thanki has a rating of just 2061, but he was on fire as he scored
8.0/8, gaining 57 Elo points and was the best player on the third board

Ram S. Krishnan (2252), best player on the second board with 8.5/9

Swathi Ghate of LIC didn’t have a very strong team at her disposal, but she did her best, scoring 6.0/7. Swathi, who now resides from Pune, was born and brought up in the chess mecca of Maharashtra called Sangli. An extremely hard working player, she is feared by many as a vicious attacker.

If you come to a strong chess tournament in India, you are sure to meet
FA Anand Babu. He makes sure all the games are broadcasted live on the Internet.

Being the chief arbiter of a team event is not at all an easy task. You have to keep a watch on the board order of every team in every round. But International Arbiter M. Ephrame did a fantastic job and that too with a smile on his face!

On the right above you can see Shailesh Nerlikar, one of my heroes, not only in chess but in life. Shailesh suffers from a very rare disorder in which his bones have shrunk in size. As a result of that he cannot stand or sit. He was just like any other kid till the age of four. But a wrong prescription and calcium overdose by a doctor led him to his current condition. As a result, Shailesh has to see the chess board from a very unusual angle. But even with such a debilitating illness, Shailesh tries to be independent and makes the initial moves of the game with the help of a stick.

Shailesh’s mother makes sure that his son’s passion for chess continues by taking him to various tournaments all over India. Shailesh is my very good friend and whenever I ask him about his aims he has always replies: “I will never settle for anything less than a GM title!” In chess Shailesh is rated just 1568 but in the art of living he is already a grandmaster.

In 1980s his talent was compared to that Vishy Anand. Later other priorities
took over and IM Anup Deshmukh couldn’t fully exploit his gift for the game.

This picture shows Vishy Anand playing against Anup Deshmukh at the Goodricke Open in 1992. At that point there was already quite a gap between the two players, as Vishy was rated 2670 and Anup was 2275. Yet, the talented player from Nagpur gave Anand a very tough fight and even held the advantage in the endgame before eventually losing.

President of Commonwealth Chess, CEO of All India Chess Federation and the master mind behind the huge Parsvanath Chess Festival in Delhi that happens every year in January, Bharat Singh Chauhan [picture by Rajesh Nattakom].

It’s always great news for the sport when the present office bearers have been
strong players in the past. AICF Secretary Hariharan Venkatachalam (2116)

The chief organizer of Mumbai Mayor’s Cup, the highest prize money tournament in India, Ravindra Dongre. He has a rating of 2103 must be commended for not losing any rating points by scoring 4.0/9.

“I did not see that coming!” The 1999 commonwealth champion
IM Atanu Lahiri (2308) didn’t have a great event, losing nearly 30 Elo points

During the National Team Championships in Goa chess was trending everywhere!

The pictures in this report were taken by Amruta Mokal, who
played in the Open section and scored 3.5/5, gaining 22 Elo points.



You can use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs to replay the games in PGN. You can also download our free Playchess client, which will in addition give you immediate access to the chess server

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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