Written by Shivani Naik | Mumbai | Updated: September 4, 2020 8:14:07 amAlong with trusted ally Srinath Narayan, the Indian team's captain Vidit Gujrathi saw Indias challenge through up to the gold.(Twitter/Viditchess)
Vidit Gujrathi is still reeling from the highs of leading India to its first Online Chess Olympiad gold, shared with Russia. The 25-year-old from Nasik says India showed it can win, and will work to win the title outright next time around.
Coming off a tough last season where he was coping with a yet undiagnosed health condition which resulted in him losing 10 kgs, and beginning the online swing with terrible results at the Online Nations Cup, Vidit was quick to kickstart preparations, a month before the Olympiad. Along with trusted ally Srinath Narayan, he saw Indias challenge through up to the gold.
Excerpts from a chat:
Q. Every one of the players has an internet and electricity board story associated with the World Online Olympiad. What was yours?
A. Before the Olympiad started, my internet had been down for a day while I was streaming as usual, and Id mentioned that on social media. Several fans got in touch and sent messages, and there was especially one who contacted us through 10-15 ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and offered to install the backup. I think it was during the Indonesia match that I had a power outage and the backup kicked in.
READ | How Vishwanathan Anand stayed on chess grid despite scheduled power cut in Chennai
It was wonderful when some top IAS officers got in touch and gave us all the support needed regarding uninterrupted power and were ready to help. Me and Srinath (Narayan, the appointed coach), had contacted everyone and everyone stepped up. I was happy and it was an immediate collective feeling of all of India getting us to the win.
Q. What was the lead-up like?
A. Id played in the Online Nations Cup and my performance had been pretty bad. I was disappointed with how I had played. So a month before the Olympiad, I began planning and set up a very strict personal schedule. Well, I followed 90 per cent of it at least. Its also when they asked me to be captain and I contacted Srinath to help me out because Id worked with him earlier. Then we decided to focus on getting juniors competition-ready. He arranged for juniors like Bhakti, Vaishali, Vantika and Divya and even the boys to play amongst themselves. Then we went through those matches in details. With top players like Anand, Humpy and Harikrishna, I knew their preps would be perfect. Id personally had a bad Online Nations Cup so that motivated me to get my days schedule in order.
Q. How did you decide on Srinath Narayan to help you out?
A. His was the first name that came to my mind. Hes helped me with preparations before as my second. We share a good bond, and he had the perfect skillset for the role. Hes very good at management and could look at assorted things like power supply and internet connections. And more importantly, he is excellent with data/statistics and collecting the technical details.
Q. How was the ebb and flow of the whole tournament?
A. The knockouts were not easy at all. It was high pressure. The group stages were more relaxed as theres always the chance of a comeback. But in knockouts, there were these 15-20 second periods when the heartbeat would go through the roof. I wouldve loved to have a heart rate monitor strapped on to check what the numbers were! But I could sense it going very fast. In fact, that should be the next technology to be tried in chess. (It) Will make for great viewing.
Q. What were the group stages like?
A. Wed made a list of 5-6 teams in group stages that could be trouble. The plan was to ensure we qualify directly for quarters. Despite the problems against Mongolia, we were winning with good margins. There were 4 1/2 -1 1/2. The big game was obviously China they were winners for the last two editions and had also won the Online Nations Cup. As it turned out, we were to play them in the ninth and final round so there was excitement about that. But of course, the tough one was Armenia. Its a very strong team. Very balanced and their women are underrated so tougher than the rating (suggest). Also as a team they were scoring on every board, so that was a challenge.
Q. Was losing to Poland a jolt?
A. They shocked us playing the first match. But with a 10-minute break, there was no time to recover. And I distinctly remember thinking in that short break about who we should field, and not what I should be playing. So, it was a great experience as a captain.
Q. What was China like?
A. After the Mongolia incident with the power supply/ internet, there was fear and we were actually deliberating on whether to play Humpy or not against China. I mean this is the great Koneru Humpy, shes a legend in Rapid, but imagine the whole strategy revolving around internet connectivity because it was such a risk. We knew she had to play Hou Yifan. So even thinking that there was a debate on whether to field her or not, which now sounds incredulous, became a point to ponder. Hari (Harikrishna Pentalya) called up and we brainstormed for three hours over it. We decided internet issues are out of our hands so we would forge ahead. You know she offered a draw on white, which was declined! Thats when we realised opponents are declining draws which they otherwise wouldve jumped at against her, because they knew she was facing internet issues.
Q. What were your internet takeaways?
A. I started out with one unstable connection. Now I have three strong ones.
Q. What was a typical day like?
A. Group stages would be 1.30 to 4.30. After that, we would have a small team meeting. But there were 12-13 players so it was tough to have one-on-one conversations with everyone. My preparations as captain would start the previous night and Srinath and me would discuss board order for the next day and then keep Zoom meetings short and pinpoint. My mom would take care of my meals never a heavy lunch. And Id watch her focused with only that on her mind my meals.
Q. Relive the scenes around the final against Russia for us.
A. My game had finished in a draw and I was glued to the commentary on one side and watching the games on other boards. At that moment, Divya (Deshmukh) looked like winning, Nihal (Sarin) was improving and Humpy was slightly worse but within drawable range when time started to flash. My first reaction was relief that my game was over, but then things started buzzing on the commentary about a problem. I contacted Srinath and we drafted a quick appeal. I could see comments sections so I knew immediately that we were locked out didnt know about Cloudfare then but knew it was something bigger. Our servers had been 100 per cent ok.
Divya tends to be emotional and was very upset. And she was panicking. When I called up Nihal, he was already relaxed. He didnt even pick the call, his dad did. He had got over it quickly and was asking me questions like, do you think I shouldve played this or that! He was unfazed.
Q. Whats been your experience over a summer full of online chess? Humpy said it felt different because she couldnt see opponents body language.
A. Oh! I love online chess because I dont have to see opponents body language. See, I dont make any expressions but many players use that to distract over the board so Im always at a disadvantage. So, I was very happy I couldnt see them.
Explained | Armageddon, the penalty shootout of the chess pieces
Of course, it was different playing from home but the two shouldnt be compared. I cant imagine the classical format online. Pure chess has to be over the board. But online is a perfect fit for blitz /rapid. 68000 viewers was a good sign and we can still professionalise it further. It felt good after China when so many people congratulated us.
Q. Earlier in the lockdown, you had spoken of a difficult phase last year when you lost a lot of weight (10 kg) to stress suddenly and how those concerns were predominant even when the virus situation started to blow up in India. Did that affect you adversely?
A. Actually that phase is still going on. It remains undiagnosed (in March-April, Vidit was still determining if it was lifestyle/stress-related). Ive gone to all kinds of doctors but weve not been able to figure it out. I still have health issues sometimes when there are two games especially. It creates hurdles its very tough to focus at times and solve problems. Sometimes, I want to practise but cant. It robs you of focus. I want to fix it, but its not getting diagnosed. Not much more I can say about it.
Q. You were reading Japanese philosophy and about minimalism over the lockdown summer. Still on that?
A. I went back to the one book that always motivates me Heart of Success by Om Swamy. Its about six guiding principles of business success, guided by ancient Indian philosophy and scriptures. But there are practical messages. I also couldnt stop watching the Michael Jordan documentary.
Q. What were some of the lighter, funnier messages or celebrity messages you got? A. Oh, I got a lot of funny anecdotes. Someone told us, his marriage was about to be fixed but he kept watching the Olympiad stream online and well, the marriage match didnt go through as a result. Others bunked their online classes and those from the US didnt sleep the entire night to watch India play. Celebrity messages are there, but its these fan stories that make me chuckle. It felt like all of India was happy for us.
The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
For all the latest Sports News, download Indian Express App.
The Indian Express (P) Ltd
Go here to see the original:
- Can you solve these real 'Jeopardy!' clues about the '70s? - North Platte Telegraph - October 29th, 2020
- 14-year-old Mendonca wins chess tournament in Hungary - The Tribune India - October 28th, 2020
- Arnold Schwarzenegger Test Drives New Aortic Valve on Cleveland Walkabout - Vanity Fair - October 28th, 2020
- Gibraltar to host the final stage of FIDE Women's Grand Prix - Chessbase News - October 24th, 2020
- Can you solve these real 'Jeopardy!' clues about the '70s? - Buffalo News - October 24th, 2020
- Aronian Says He Is Ready to Join Armenian Army - The Armenian Mirror-Spectator - October 23rd, 2020
- Nakamura Just Won't Stop Winning Titled Tuesday - Chess.com - October 23rd, 2020
- Gibraltar to host the final stage of the Women's FIDE Grand Prix - Chess Daily News - October 23rd, 2020
- Play blitz and win prizes on playchess.com! - Chessbase News - October 21st, 2020
- Bel Airs Shelby Getz survives unforgettable chess battles with legends of the game at U.S. Senior Championship - Baltimore Sun - October 21st, 2020
- Levon Aronian: I haven't slept since war started - chess24 - October 21st, 2020
- Asian Online Team Chess: India finishes 6th in preliminary round, qualifies for quarterfinals - Outlook India - October 19th, 2020
- FIDE Candidates Tournament Postponed Until Spring 2021 - Chess.com - October 17th, 2020
- Bel Air resident and chess champion Shelby Getz to battle for national senior championship online this weekend - Baltimore Sun - October 16th, 2020
- Baltimore man looking to win $50k prize in national chess tournament - wmar2news.com - October 16th, 2020
- $100+K awarded at 2020 SPFNO Online, with 100% Fair Play on National Chess Day! - Chess Daily News - October 16th, 2020
- Meet Zico, The First 17yo Malaysian To Receive The SENIA World Changer Award - WORLD OF BUZZ - October 16th, 2020
- Blast from the Past / 1959: a summertime parade of toys - Lewiston Morning Tribune - October 16th, 2020
- The Queens Gambit Tries a Risky Play: Betting Chess Can Be Good TV - The New York Times - October 16th, 2020
- The Best Chess Games In History - Boss Hunting - October 14th, 2020
- New research reveals mentally demanding tasks are more difficult to handle at home - ResponseSource - October 14th, 2020
- Igors Rausis: Chess cheat resurfaces after an infamous toilet break - The Indian Express - October 14th, 2020
- King to king - Chessbase News - October 14th, 2020
- 10-year-old Minnesota girl puts the chess world in checkmate - KARE11.com - October 9th, 2020
- How To Play In US Chess Online Rated Tournaments - Chess.com - October 9th, 2020
- The tech company Play Magnus today been admitted trading - The FINANCIAL - October 8th, 2020
- IM Bhakti Kulkarni to represent Women Indian Team in the Asian Nation's Cup Online Chess - Oherald - October 8th, 2020
- CCPS hosting in-person chess tournament, limited to students in Grades 4-12 - The Southern Maryland Chronicle - October 7th, 2020
- ESL Mobile Open Europe and MENA announced with a prize pool of nearly $100000 - Dot Esports - October 7th, 2020
- Meet these mini-grandmasters of chess - two brothers from Cork - EchoLive.ie - October 7th, 2020
- Irshad Mohammed walks away with top spot in latest round of chess tournament - Stabroek News - October 7th, 2020
- NRX is king of Call of Duty Mobile in Southeast Asia - Manila Bulletin - October 5th, 2020
- Surya Shekhar Ganguly in conversation with Vladimir Kramnik - Chessbase News - October 3rd, 2020
- On Chess: Returning To Over The Board Chess Tournaments - St. Louis Public Radio - October 3rd, 2020
- Fresh Surface Firmware Updates Are Out for Pro 7 and Book 3 - Best gaming pro - October 3rd, 2020
- Why Utah's new Teacher of the Year wants his students of color to play chess - Salt Lake Tribune - October 3rd, 2020
- x64 emulation is coming to Windows on ARM - Best gaming pro - October 3rd, 2020
- When did they get it? - The ten highest-ever rated players - Chessbase News - October 3rd, 2020
- SANDCAST: Answering beach volleyball's questions in a year with no shortage of them - Volleyball Magazine - October 1st, 2020
- Chess and coffee - Chessbase News - September 30th, 2020
- Altibox Norway Chess 2020: Live and over-the-board! - Chessbase News - September 29th, 2020
- The Queen's Journey with chess and ballet: In conversation with Jason Kouchak - Sportskeeda - September 29th, 2020
- Goodbyes and well-wishes: PBA players leave home to start life in Clark bubble - Manila Bulletin - September 29th, 2020
- Diamond-clad Pearl Royale is worlds most expensive chess set - dlmag - September 29th, 2020
- Spanish Team Championship, Round 3: Andreu Paterna in the lead - Chessbase News - September 28th, 2020
- Adesanya retains UFC title with early TKO of Costa - Manila Bulletin - September 28th, 2020
- 5 Amazing Chess Players You've Never Heard Of - Chess.com - September 26th, 2020
- John Leguizamo Is Sick of Latinos Being Excluded in Hollywood: 'Were 1 Percent of the Stories' - PEOPLE - September 26th, 2020
- One Day on a Hard Court, Then on Clay - The New York Times - September 26th, 2020
- Chess in the movies: "Critical Thinking" - a fine film by John Leguizamo - Chessbase News - September 26th, 2020
- Two locals in contention for top spot - The Daily Star - September 26th, 2020
- Tournament from tomorrow - The Daily Star - September 23rd, 2020
- AlphaZero (And Other!) Chess Variants Now Available For Everyone - Chess.com - September 23rd, 2020
- Guess the child prodigy - Chessbase News - September 23rd, 2020
- Int'l online chess event to mark 74th birthday of PM Hasina - Dhaka Tribune - September 23rd, 2020
- Ranindu, Nethmi win top titles at Chess Nationals - Ceylon Daily News - September 23rd, 2020
- Mechanics' to Host U.S. Cadet National Championship this Weekend - uschess.org - September 22nd, 2020
- The Only Problem In Fischer Random Chess - Chess.com - September 22nd, 2020
- Today's Top Sports News: Who can become the captain of Team India after Kohli, Sunil Gavaskar said this - Pledge Times - September 20th, 2020
- Pushed to the limit, Djokovic finds a way to win - The Tribune - September 19th, 2020
- The True Story Behind Critical Thinking, Movie Based in Miami - Miami New Times - September 19th, 2020
- Summer Knights stands as school year's first chess tourney - The Madison Record - themadisonrecord.com - September 19th, 2020
- So Leads Saint Louis Tournament Before Blitz Games - Chess.com - September 19th, 2020
- Mobile Premier League bets on advertising to create niche in e-sports market - Mint - September 19th, 2020
- Magnus Carlsen has conquered the world of chess. Now he's setting his sights on fantasy football - erienewsnow.com - September 19th, 2020
- Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz: Live! - Chessbase News - September 16th, 2020
- Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat a series where each team must make tough choices: Youre not expecting it to b - MassLive.com - September 16th, 2020
- US Open: Winged Foot looks to humble the Professionals - Pro Golf Now - September 15th, 2020
- Kasparov Holds Carlsen In 1st Clash In 16 Years - Chess.com - September 12th, 2020
- Is There Going to be an 'Alpha Flight' Movie? - Book and Film Globe - September 12th, 2020
- 'Chess player' Daniil Medvedev looks the one to beat at US Open - Eurosport.com - September 12th, 2020
- Nihal Beats Tang In Junior Speed Chess Championship - Chess.com - September 12th, 2020
- Mikoto interview: I'm kind of getting motivated after losing to TNC - VPEsports - September 11th, 2020
- Stars, Golden Knights reach chess match part of West final - NHL - September 11th, 2020
- FIDE Candidates Tournament Resumes November 1 - Chess.com - September 9th, 2020
- Chess prodigy Ajitesh Nair on the cusp of history - Telangana Today - September 9th, 2020
- Amid a lockdown and development of livestreaming technology, chess is going through a renaissance - Firstpost - September 8th, 2020
- Nathanael Paul crowned county champion for the first time - shropshirestar.com - September 8th, 2020
- Junior Speed Chess Championship Begins This Week - Chess.com - September 7th, 2020
- Is Critical Thinking on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime? Where to Watch Critical Thinking? - The Cinemaholic - September 5th, 2020