- How is your preparation for the Chess Olympiad to be held in India from July 28 to August 10?
All India Chess Federation (AICF) organized a special coaching camp for the India team, and under the guidance of Five-time World Champion Viswanathan Anand and Israeli chess great Boris Gelfand we are working on further improving our skills. We spend like at least 6 to 7 hours in training and focus on mastering the game. It is great that everyone under one roof is practicing and learning from each other. The preparation has been great and the Olympiad is a prestigious event that will be hosted in India and I hope India could bag the most medals.
- Being the host, India has fielded two teams in both the categories in this event, how much will it benefit.
Indian chess players have established their strong stand in global platforms and with more members in the squad, we are enhancing the possibilities for India to win more medals. India has deep connections with the board game and in recent years people have grown more interest towards the sport. With India making it big at the Olympiad, especially when it’s being hosted in India, it will inspire more talents to get into the sport and eventually make the Indian Chess community stronger than ever.
- What are your expectations from your teammates D Harika, Tania Sachdev, R Vaishali and Bhakti Kulkarni.
Honestly, I am excited and have high hopes. Not just from my team members, but from each player from the squad who will represent our country. Some of the greatest maestros in Chess are preparing for the Olympiad and given the numerous accomplishments and triumphs they all have achieved, I can say India will pose a tough challenge to the opponents.
- Last time this event was played online, now it will be again like before, how much psychological pressure is put on the opponent by playing face to face.
It surely could be intimidating and there are times when opponents try to apply different methods to build pressure. But it is part of the game and players need to train themselves to sway away smartly. We keep doing mental calculations, and need to have high concentration power to keep up the pace without any distraction.
- Veteran Viswanathan Anand is your mentor for this event, how much guidance did you get from him?
He has been supporting us constantly with his undivided attention. During training hours he is monitoring our moves and helping us to strategise with an opponent’s perspective, while sharing his experiences which helps us to relate to a more practical scenario. He is the Chess aficionado and we are honored to be trained under his mentorship.
- What message would you like to give to the emerging youth chess players of India?
India has a legacy of playing chess which is instilled in our culture deeply and I hope the next generations will proudly carry the legacy ahead. India currently enjoys the prestige of giving the finest of Chess Grandmasters to the world and with more youth joining the sport of Chess, it will support the Indian chess community and can turn India into a Chess Powerhouse.