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Kolkata GM Open 2018: 'Playing chess is motivation enough to perform well,' says Srinath Narayanan

SENIOR ANALYST
Exclusive
Modified 20 Dec 2019, 16:06 IST

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The winner takes it all!

Srinath Narayanan won it all during his junior years and was considered amongst the best juniors of all time. He became a Grandmaster after a period of struggle last year.

This year, he won his career's biggest title at the Kolkata GM Open tournament. Here are some excerpts from an exclusive interview with the Grandmaster.

Q: Congrats on your huge win at the Kolkata Open. Did you prepare something special for the tournament?

A: There was no personal preparation before the event. I was involved in training/promotional events until one day before the tournament. (This includes GM Srinath's simultaneous exhibition at the launch of his Premier Chess Academy in New Delhi just two days before the start of the tournament in Kolkata.)

Q: What went through your mind when you competed in the first few rounds of the event?

A: Nothing special. I was just looking to take one game at a time. I would go through my opponent’s games and brainstorm my options for an hour or two the night before the game. The morning would be quite busy with the actual preparation itself.

Q: What was your breakthrough moment? 

A: The breakthrough moment was probably the infamous game against GM Deep Sengupta, which was the round where I got into the sole lead.

Q: You played out a 10-move victory against the strong GM Deep Sengupta. What can you say about the game? How did you feel after that match?

A: It was quite unusual and sad. Deep is a good friend and one of the nicest guys around on the chess circuit. I am happy at a personal level that it helped me win the championship, but I would prefer if the game is completely forgotten otherwise.

Q: Did you expect to win the tournament even with the presence of the current FIDE presidential candidate GM Nigel Short?

A: The field was definitely formidable with Nigel at the top, but I wouldn’t rule myself out of contention in any event I play.

Q: How did you prepare for the rounds and what kept you motivated?

A: There was really no need for any special motivation. Playing chess is a lot of fun by itself and preparation is part of the process that gives you better chances. As I play a little less frequently than before, any opportunity to play chess is welcome.

Q: Your student Nihal also participated. Do you have anything to say about his performance? Were you both analyzing between rounds?

A: Nihal was quite solid and pragmatic as always. Some of his games, for example, the one against GM Kidambi showed glimpses of his enormous strength. It was a pretty useful learning experience for him as always.

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We spent a lot of time during the event as usual, casually discussing our opponents while watching IPL in the night before the game and preparing a little more seriously in the mornings before. It’s always a pleasure to be around him as he is full of energy and is bursting with little nuggets of chess information all the time.

Q: Which are your next events?

A: I’ll take part in the Gold Coast Open next month in Australia, followed by Faroes Open in July.

Q: How are you balancing your chess playing and training careers? I’ve heard that you are a chess entrepreneur as well. (GM Srinath is the director of the Chessmine Company and the founder of the Premier Chess Academy)

A: It’s challenging, but that’s the fun part. The difficult challenge helps me the most to stretch myself diversely and get the best learning output. In general, I think it’s more useful to wider than deeper at the early stage of growth in any pursuit. I also have a wonderful team around me, without which of course it’s impossible.

Q: Finally, you are a part of the Delhi Dynamite PRO Chess League team. Any comments on your journey with the team? (GM Srinath played a few matches for the team as a free agent in the 2018 season, but he has been a part of the team since its inception in 2017)

A: The Pro Chess League is an exciting concept and I am proud to be a part of it. Delhi Dynamites has been a fantastic environment to be around, although my journey with the team has been brief until now.

Published 28 May 2018, 10:50 IST
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