In the words of the super Grandmaster Pentala Harikrishna
Pentala Harikrishna has long been India's brightest chess players in history. He was one of the four players from the country to have achieved a rating of 2700+, the others being Vishy Anand, Vidit Gujrathi, and Sasikiran Krishnan. He is also the only Indian player after Anand to have reached the world's top ten. Now, although he has shifted his base to Prague, Czech Republic, the stalwart has his roots in his home country and will be competing at this year's upcoming Olympiad. Without wasting much more time giving the endless list of accomplishments that 'Hari', as he is fondly known, has, I will go straight to the questions.
1. In March 2018, you came to India for the training camp with the Indian team for the Olympiad. How was your experience in this camp?
It was a nice learning experience. Working with other team members before an important team event like the Olympiad is useful.
2. The Indian men’s team is currently fifth in the standings prior to the event. It’s the strongest ever for an Olympiad for the country. What do you think about this team?
Rankings are not so important here in the Olympiad. All the teams need some luck with the pairings towards the end of the event.
3. This time even former World Champion Vishy Anand is a part of the team. What does having him in the team mean to you?
The first time that I played with Anand in the chess Olympiad was way back in 2004 in Calvia, Spain. We were a young team and finished sixth. He is a huge addition to the team. He is keen on learning and working on chess even after all his accomplishments. He motivates the team with his insights and shares his experiences.
4. Now, apart from the Olympiad this year, your participation in many leagues in Europe is your strength. Can you say something about the various teams that you play for?
I play in the Czech, German, and Spanish leagues and the European Club cup here in Europe. Apart from these, I played a few matches in some other leagues. I have good relations with the teams that I play in, so I enjoy playing in team events.
5. You have recently secured the bronze medal in the Spanish league. How do you feel about it?
It was nice that our team could win the bronze medal. It was interesting that we hadn't lost a single match, but we drew three matches, which was the reason why we didn't win the championship.
6. Now, you are mostly based in Europe. How is the playing environment different there from India?
I play the PSPB event in India, which is a team event. I represent the BPCL. It is mostly the atmosphere that is important- be it in India or anywhere else in the world.
7. You are India’s second-highest player. You had also reached the top ten in the past. Do you think about trying for the World Championship soon?
I am not thinking about it right now because the Olympiad is coming soon.
8. Recently, you also won a strongly contested match against your friend and fellow Grandmaster David Navara in the special Prague match. You were down at some point but came back extremely strong. What went around in your mind at that time and what did you think about the match overall?
It was difficult to play against David. It was not planned earlier. Ding Liren was scheduled to play originally but due to his injury in the Norway chess tournament, he withdrew, and I was the last minute replacement. The match started well with +1 for me on the first day. The second and third days weren't good for me and David played well, ending up+1 before the last day. I started with white on the last day and this win was crucial. This made David to go for a win in the penultimate round. Before the last round, I was on +1 and I played white in the last game. I played solidly and had the game under control and I even managed to win this game at the end!
9. You have also played in the online PRO Chess League for the Delhi Dynamite team in season 2. What did you think about the league? Where do you see this league going from here on?
The league is improving and it is already big with almost all the top players participating in some of the other team. I played a few games for the Delhi Dynamite team this year. I don't know the statistics of viewership and other technical details, but I have heard only positive things about the league.
10. Finally, coming back to the Olympiad. How do you rate the chances for the team?
I expect and hope that both the men's and women's teams do well at the Olympiad and give it their best.