No goals like the one Leo Messi hits. Nor half-time, free kicks, penalties and red cards.
No sixes and fours. Nor ‘terrific shots‘ like Sachin Tendulkar hits.
Just two people, 64 squares and 32 pieces.
Trapped in a silent maze between 64 squares, 32 pieces, you and your opponent.
All you can hear is complete silence.
It sounds boring, right?
Would you rather play or watch cricket if you don’t find it interesting?
What about football? Badminton, tennis, hockey, basketball, sky-diving, Moto GP racing and every other sport on earth??
The answer would be No.
It’s the same with chess.
Chess is everything: art, science, and sport. – Anatoly Karpov
How can you not call it an art on watching the legends like Mikhail Tal, José Raúl Capablanca and other geniuses? True artists. Fritz or Stockfish weren’t born those days.
If you watch top level chess these days, you know why it’s a science. Many times top GrandMasters blitz out the first 25 moves from the book. There is a lot of theory behind each one.
‘Is Chess a sport? ‘ has been a continued debate. Some agree and others don’t. Let’s not get into that right now.
Chess in its primaeval form, Chaturanga, is believed to have originated in Ancient India in the 6th century. The Arabs and Persians took over and later spread to the Middle East and Southern Europe. The word Checkmate evolved from Shāh Māt which meant ‘The Helpless King‘ in Persian.
The 19th and 20th centuries also witnessed the birth of many legends– Paul Morphy, Alekhine, Capablanca, Paul Keres, Mikhail Tal, Robert James ‘Bobby’ Fischer, Gary Kasparov, to name a few.
Those were the times were games extended days, moves sealed and games restarted the next day.
The official governing body of international, Fédération Internationale des (Échecs) FIDE, was formed 94 years ago in 1924.
Chess has changed a lot today. It is one of the most popular games on earth and has a huge fan following.
Chess & Me
I started at the age of 10. The same age when Nihal Sarin became the Under-10 World Champion and also earned a GM Norm.
Everybody in my family knows something about chess- my father, mother, sister and some of my cousins. I got interested in it and played for fun.
I don’t remember the date or time. There was an advertisement in the local newspaper for chess coaching by the Chess Association Thrissur at my hometown, Thrissur. My father dialled the number. The voice over the other end said: “Bring him if he really interested in it..“.
I started attending the classes.
The first tournament
I still remember my first tournament. That morning I called my coach, Pathrose sir, to know about the classes. He was ready to go to a tournament and asked me to play.
That was the time when I did not even know the Touch Piece rule where you had to play the piece you touched! Nor that the player whose name is called first plays with white.
The first game was against Benjamin Jose who was a strong player from Thrissur. I got fooled myself when he said he had once attended Pathrose sir’s coaching but just for two days.
Like every debutant, I ended up last with a point. That too because of the odd strength and I didn’t have an opponent.
I earnestly attended classes, watched and analysed the top games, played many tournaments.
There were tournaments every Saturday at the Aquatic Complex, Thrissur and also during every festival season.
I’m a FIDE Rated Player. I’m rated 1415.
It was in 2012 that played the first rating tournament. That was 04th ACA FIDE Rating Below 2000. I knew very less. And you can guess the results.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. -Winston Churchill
I opened my account at the second one, the Sixth Thrissur International FIDE Rated Open Chess Tournament in April 2013 with two draws and a win.
The next one is the best one.
I was accompanied by my mother and sister to the 24th Cusat International Rating Chess Tournament at the Cusat campus, Kalamassery. I scored 4.5 out of 9 with a performance rating of 1507.
I won a cash award of Rs. 2000 for the Third Best Unrated Player.
I still have the Fastrack watch I gifted myself!
Do more of what makes you feel happy!
Ratings are just 4-digit numbers. It depends on how well you play. A bad performance can give you a dip.
Having played for 7 years I never won a strong decent tournament.
If you ask me the reason, I don’t know.
I never got time to show my games to my coach, new coach, TMS Sir to see what went wrong.
But, I enjoyed playing and was happy!
The last tournament
I had to win.
In 2014, the district level inter-school indoor games conducted by Sahodaya was in my school, Paramekkavu Vidya Mandir. Having learnt there for over 9 years I believed that I had contributed very little and this was the time.
I was seeded third with the top seed the 13-year-old prodigy Nihal Sarin, the local boy from Thrissur. Nihal, who recently secured his first GM norm, is the current World Under-10 Champion.
I started third and finished third out of some 30 schools in the district. The happiest moment. The biggest win.
That was the last game I played.
Again, if you ask me why, I simply lost interest thereafter.
Never let Success get to you Head.
Never let Failure get to your Heart..
After my last tournament, I lost interest in the game. I never went to classes, played tournaments and followed games.
During the Christmas 2016, my cousin showed me this beautiful game by Baadur Jobava.
And this game is the reason why I started loving chess again.
This Georgian Grandmaster is a quintessential artist with a maverick style.
GM Simon Williams, in his analysis(the video above) of the Most Brilliant Game of the Baku Olympiad 2016, described Jobava as
One of the only modern day geniuses.
His play incorporates a lot of things.
He does’t follow trends but sets trends which very is rare in top level.
He has got a fantstic tactical mind and has created his own maverick style of the opening..
The Armenian #1 Levon Aronian is also my favourite. I love his creative and aggressive style of play.
Ending the list of my favourites without the names of legends like Alekhine, Tal, Fischer and the ‘Tiger of Madras’ Viswanathan Anand would be merciless.
Computers and Artificial Intelligence have already taken over the world.
And in chess too. Last year we saw AlphaZero, a chess engine developed by Google’s DeepMind AI, learn to play on its own in 4 hours and beat Stockfish!
Also, it’s time to decide the next contender for the World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Yes, it’s the Candidates Tournament at Berlin.
An eight-player double round robin featuring top GMs like Vladimir Kramnik, the Armenian #1 Levon Aronian, the Chinese Ding Liren, at Berlin, the capital city of Germany, to decide who gets the next ticket to London to challenge the Norwegian #1 this November.
And the first three rounds have been impressive so far. Sad for Levon, my favourite, who fell prey to Kramnik’s lethal preparation and lost the third round.
Don’t forget to catch the action.
Do you play chess and love it? Please share your thoughts...