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It is but with a heavy heart that I take to pen down my feelings. Sachin batted in what is very likely his last international innings today. No more Sachin. And to make matters worse, Anand lost the fifth game to Carlsen after drawing the last four games.

They measure life by the moments that take your breath away. I can reminisce my life so far by the Sachin moments I can recount. He was always there all my life. I distinctly remember enjoying what would be known as the Desert Storm, watching on my our old TV, in seventh grade. Then there was Sachin’s 98 in the India-Pakistan match in the 2003 world cup, two days before my Maths exam in HSC. And how can I forget the first one-day double century ever by Sachin; frenzied IIT-B hostel-junta was all jumping on the mess tables. And there was the World Cup India won, in 2011, when Virat Kohli carried Sachin on his shoulders. Those Sachin moments I associate with the good times I had studying Mathematics at IMSc. With Sachin retired, there won’t be any more of these moments. Dhoni puts it succinctly – “With Sachin Paaji, a part of me will be gone too.”

I respected, loved, adored, worshipped Sachin but frankly, I never wanted to be a cricketer myself. But at least for a little while as a kid, I wanted to be a grandmaster. Like Sachin, I grew up seeing Vishwanathan Anand. Chess was amazing and Vishy kept winning those rapid and blindfold games and I just idolized him. He became the World Champion in 2007 and has retained the title until now. After four consecutive draws, finally blood is drawn he loses to Magnus Carlsen. With seven more matches to go, I am badly hoping Anand resurges like a Phoenix in the remaining matches and clinches the title. It doesn’t matter if Carlsen snatches the title back from him next year. It might sound silly but, for me it’s like a battle between Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty; it would be the crowning achievement of Holmes’ career if he could defeat Moriarty. Not that I hate Magnus Carlsen, but it’s just that it would pain me to witness Anand fall.

I believe it’s not just the fact that they have been the best players in their respective sports that puts Anand and Sachin on the same pedestal. Of course, both are Indians and I have grown up worshiping them both. But the real similarity between them is that both have their feet firmly on the ground. They both are the epitome of humbleness, a quality too difficult to exaggerate. It comes only with immense patience and respect towards your surroundings. In 23 years of his professional career, I don’t recall a single outspoken statement Sachin made, nor the slightest harsh action on the field. Hit by a speedy bouncer, he would calmly pick himself up and continue to bat in pain. And Anand, well, I’m honoured to see him nay, play a game in an exhibition match with him. It was at the the ICM at Hyderabad in 2010. People asked random, stupid questions to him and he answered them all with aplomb. Take a bow, masters!

Why do we need idols?

My sadness at Sachin retiring and Anand losing a game to Carlsen got me thinking; why did I feel sad? Because I wouldn’t be witnessing my role models in action. And why do I need role models? I study Mathematics, neither of them are anyway remotely related to Mathematics. That’s not the reason I idolize them. I revere them because seeing them in action makes me believe I can excel in my field too. I equate myself with them. I want to be a part of their success, and even failure. If Sachin can persevere and perfect that straight drive, I too can push my cognitive limits and understand my Mathematics. If Anand can produce a masterpiece, may be one day I too can.

I hope Anand fights back tomorrow and comes up with something brilliant. He always has.

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An article I wrote about Sachin long ago — here.

A moment to cherish:

The Queen’s gambit is commonly seen in online chess games at my level. I used to play the Slav defense but grown bored of it. With some help from Google, I found the Albin counter-gambit variation in which Black sacrifices his own King pawn. The novel part of this opening is that quite often, White is led into a fatal trap known as the Lasker trap. Supposedly, the great Emanuel Lasker fell for this trap, although I have no references. Very rarely does one see an underpromotion (a knight in this case) as early as the seventh move. So when this position occurred in an online game I played, I was more than happy.

Recently, on account of the ICM, I had the opportunity to play a game with the current World Champion Vishwanathan Anand. He played against 40 delegates of the ICM. The result was a whooping 39.5 – 0.5. Only a 14-year old kid was able to salvage a draw from the king of Chess. But Anand played white on all 40 boards.

Curiously, he played 1. e4 and 1. d4 on alternate boards. His games were rapid and the maximum he stopped at any board was for a couple of seconds! [A small video] It was an awesome experience and any Chess player’s dream come true. About 5-6 players played excellently and their efforts were appreciated by Anand. He also gave them some tips, pointed out better moves after vanquishing them. I had to be content with a smile (succeeding a Knight fork) and an autographed chess-board.

Overall, I found Vishwanathan Anand to be a congenial person, and according to my professor (who was playing next-to-me), “not like Garry Kasparov”. He didn’t raise temper neither laughed mockingly even when one of the players persisted when all he was left was a king and a pawn.

My annotated game with the World Champion is below in pgn format. You can select the text below and paste it in a pgn viewer, like this. Alternately, you can also view a gif file (without annotations) here.

Edit: The photos have been posted here.

Edit (25 May, 2012) (photo added)

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1-0} 1-0

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I love the Times of India. At least for the sports pages, which glorify non-Cricket sports.

Vishwanathan Anand won the World Chess Championship two days ago. Today TOI went ga-ga over his achievements. The sports page carried a king-size photo of his, his parents’ interview and his career achievements all over the page. TOI said that Anand ruled the Chess world since 1995 and if he succeeded in defeating the next year’s challenger, he would reign for 16 years and thus be better than Kasparov who was the World Champion from 1985 to 2000. What it doesn’t mention is that Anand never actually won against Kasparov in head-to-head tournaments. He became the World Champion in 2000 because Kasparov did not participate (he had differences in opinion with FIDE and formed his own PCA (Professional Chess Association)) and later, after Kasparov announced his retirement. (It would be worthy to mention that Kasparov was defeated by Kramnik who lost to Anand in 2000, but are we considering transitivity of wins here?)

Nevertheless, the point is that Chess players around the world believe that Kasparov has been the greatest players of all time (considering the ELO rating system, which has its lacunae, according to a few GMs) and also believed that Anand cannot win head-on against Kasparov. But TOI glorified Anand’s achievements to the extent that Kasparov and the other K’s seem mere mortals whom even you and I can defeat!

The way TOI puts Indians’ achievements on a pedestal is also noticeable in other sports. I am especially reminded of a match between Sania Malik nee Mirza and Maria Sharapova that TOI had excessively hyped. It treated both players at more-or-less the same game level (even though statistically everyone knew that Sania was going to lose). The sports page showed all sorts of comparisons between the two players, to the extent that the title was “SM or MS?” (referring to their initials). Needless to say, Sania, as predicted lost badly to Maria.

As a passing comment, I am also reminded of that boldfaced font used in listing Indian drivers and team Force India in the F1 standings.

Actually, such glorification does turn out to be useful in producing sportspersons in the country. Youngsters feel motivated to play for India, when they see their heroes performing at the international level. So, whereas the wiser generation would believe the comparison of Anand and Sania Mirza to Kasparov and Sharapova to be unjustified, it would be cool if such a comparison would bring out some world-class sportsmen that the country craves.

4. … Be7 mate is the fourth move of a game. Find the game.

I had posed this problem to Maydeo who solved it promptly and elegantly, a long time ago. Solution will be posted in a few days.

😛 and 😀 were having sipping coffee and playing a game of Chess. I happened to watch the position and was quite amused with the board position.

Black just played his fourth move. Find a game.

Me: Hey are you two making a mistake? 😛 is white and he should start the game. And where are your knights?

😛 : It was I who started all right.

😀 : I just played my fourth move!

😛 : Can you guess how we could have come up at this position?

Me: Worth trying. (I try for some time, find the solution and then walk away).

$\boxed{ \text{ Come up with a game with above diagram after Black's fourth move.}}$

(I returned back after some time only to find the following position on the chessboard)

Black played his fifth move. Find a game.

Me: What are you guys up to now? All the knights are gone!

😛 : We started a new game now. I am black now and just played my fifth move.

😀 : Can you guess the moves we played?

$\boxed{ \text{ Five complete moves done. Find a game.}}$

Problem: This problem is rich in concept in spite of so less material. White to play and win.
Solution: The obvious 1. h8=Q is refuted by 1…a1=Q! so that 2. Qxa1?? is stalemate. Apparently, under-promotion will also not work here. In fact, after promotion white can try 2. Qe8 but his hopes of a win are shattered by 2…Qh7 whence the White king cannot come to the seventh rank. Correct move for white is 2. Qg8!! 2…Qa2 3.Qe8! 3…Qa4. The game is not over yet! There are still some surprises. (The position deserves a picture: )

4. Qe5! Now black is forced to play 4…Ka8 (Of course, 2. Qe5? is not possible because of 2…Qxe5)And now 5. Qh8 will solve all white’s problems as 6. Kd7++ and 6. Ke7++ are both threatened and 5…Qa1 is met by 6. Qxa1+ which is clearly not stalemate.
I hope the readers will enjoy this theme!
Hi all.

I have a nice repertoire of interesting chess puzzles that I wish to upload on this blog.
If you know the Java code of a chess player wherein a user can dynamically make (legal) moves, please tell (mail) me. A good example of such a board can be found at www.chess.com ‘s homepage. Unfortunately, it uses Flash, which blogger doesn’t support.
If you can ढा make a gadget of the chess-board, all the more welcome.

We knew it was just a matter of time!

Anand deserves to be the World Champion. (Fortunately history did not repeat itself. In 1995, Anand was playing the PCA Candidates World Championship Match. He was leading the round but Kamsky turned the tables against Anand. Anand did not even get to win in the  blitz round. )

Game 11(black to play): Just look at the tripled pawns! Kramnik is fighting desperately for a win. But even a 1500-rated rookie player like me knows, its all over for Black!

With this victory, the Anand has emerged to be the World Champion in all Chess formats, classical, rapid, lightning, blitz, blindfold. Well, perhaps “Correspondence chess” remains!!

The final position:

As I write this, the 7th game of the World Chess Championship, 2008, is in progress. Vishwanathan Anand is on his way to win his World Championship title against Vladimir Kramnik. Six games have been completed so far, out of which Anand has won three and drawn three.

Grandmasters say that a comeback for Kramnik is very unlikely. Even in a possible tie, the tiebreaker round is a lightning one, and will be strongly in favour of Anand, who is known for his rapid style of play.
One surprising feature of the battle of this duo is that Anand has adopted totally new style of opening. He was arguably one of the best Ruy Lopez players in the world. But to the surprise of the chess fraternity, he didn’t open with the King pawn. He chose the defensive 1. d4 that is, the Queen pawn opening. And by winning the first three games (I hope he wins more games till the end of the tourney) he showed the depth of his preparation. Most usually, Slav defense and Nimzo-Indian defense have been played with Anand beating Kramnik with ease. In all the games, Anand had beaten the Russian on time. All Kramnik’s blunders have been in acute time shortage. This is a good indication, as one would naturally want the more ‘power’ful player to win.

Right now, the match is in progress. The position seems favourable to White (Anand) but i predict a draw. Wait and watch.

Abhishek Parab

I? An Indian. A mathematics student. A former engineer. A rubik's cube addict. A nature photographer. A Pink Floyd fan. An ardent lover of Chess & Counter-Strike.

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