For some articles, I have to think a lot before I write, but this one comes directly from my heart! :)
It's 15th August today, Our Independence day and I am proud to be an Indian.
And I am also proud to be a chess player because I love this game so much!
On 15th August both of these loves came together as the Indian Men's team won a Bronze medal at the 41st Chess Olympiad held at Tromso Norway from 1-14th August 2014.
The dream come true for every Indian chess player!
From L-R B Adhiban, Sethuraman, AICF CEO Bharat Singh, Lalith Babu, Sasikiran, Parimarjan Negi and Indian coach R B Ramesh.
To understand the magnitude of this victory you must understand how many teams took part in the event.
177!!! Yes there were 177 teams. In the world there are around 196 countries and 177 took part. And all the top players in the world took part. World no.1 Magnus was there, world no.2 Levon Aronian was there, so was no.3 caruana, the big Vlad, Ivanchuk, just about everyone! And guess what we did not even have our top 2 players in the team Anand and Harikrishna.
I particularly liked what Bharat Singh AICF CEO wrote on facebook:
Yes we had this brilliant team spirit!
Perfect team spirit and team bonding!
Chess is a game played in silence. People do not talk, they do not express. Even after winning no one really gives a high five or shouts out aloud. After years and years of this behavious it is possible to assume that chess players are emotionless. But the Olympiad is such a huge event that the emotions start pouring out!
Chinese Wang Yue and Ni Hua. I have hardly ever seen their picture smiling and today they had tears of happiness in their eyes!
This is what an olympiad gold means!!
GOLD medalists. The Chinese team have shown what it means to have a great team unity! No big names. Just consistent performers who are ready to sweat it out for their country!
The emotions just keep coming out! China with the gold as Hungarians (silver) and Indians (bronze) look at them with a smile!!
Remember! India finished ahead of Russia, at team which had Kramnik, Grischuk, Karjakin and Svidler!
Ahead of USA! A team which had Nakamura and Kamsky.
Ahead of Ukraine! A team which had Ivanchuk and Ponomariov!!
Now that you know what a huge thing we have achieved! Lets meet the key people!
Indian coach R B Ramesh being lifted by the players!
If Dronacharya award is given to a great coach, I think in chess it should be Ramesh award! This man is simply a class apart! His role in this bronze medal is huge! To put Negi on board 1 and Sasi on board 3 was a brilliant decision which worked beautifully!! Some day I would love to learn about chess from this great man! He is the best in the business not only in India but world over!!
Such pictures are a dream for every sport player! When the officials recognize what you have achieved. D V Sundar one of the key persons in Indian Chess who is also a FIDE vice president hugs Sasikiran and Sethuraman!!
Bharat Singh CEO of All India Chess Federation (AICF) hugs Sasikiran! These pictures can only mean that chess will be more popular in India now because these guys like Bharat Singh and Sundar have the capability to raise more money and bring bigger tournaments in the nation!!
Gopakumar Sudhakaran (second from right). This man was in Norway and reporting for each and every round to thousand of people waiting for updates! So enthusiastic is he that he clicked pictures with each and every top player in the world! He is a great arbiter with loads of energy! I think he has definitely played his role in popularizing this olympiad and indirectly chess in India!! Well done Gopa!!
PARIMARJAN NEGI board one 6.5/10 Rating performance 2730!
A pure gem! Faced the music on the top board by playing against all the strong players in the world.
Not only drew with Aronian but also brutally killed Bologan and totally out techniqued Kasimdzhanov!! You are a gem Parimarjan! Please listen to thousands of your fans cheering for you and don't retire from chess!
S P Sethuraman Board two 7.5/10 rating performance 2757.
One of the key performers for India. I have played this man many times and every time I feel like I am playing against a tiger. His glare, the way he moves with confidence, strong and swift tactics! Sethuraman you gave everything you had here!! You deserved a board medal but it's fine. You did something more important. You won the heart of millions of Indians with your moves!!
KRISHNAN SASIKIRAN, board three, 7.5/10, performance 2753.
Rock solid performer. When he is in the team we feel secure. Even when he is playing Magnus I think we can hope for a positive outcome. Yes he is the wall of the Indian team. He is the best and I have loads of respect for this man! He can do anything. He readily played on board three for the team! And he won a silver medal on that board. It was he who provided the crucial win in round 10 against Nisipeanu to give Indians the victory against the Germans! Sasi anna (as everyone calls him) you are a true patriot and India is lucky to have such a dedicated chess player like you! :)
B ADHIBAN board four 7/11 performance 2611.
Played without a break. All the eleven games. After the Biel tournament he was our striker. He was not in the best of forms but he clinged on there. Many times he was on the brink of defeat but he fought back every single time. This is what a true champion is! Even when the chips are down he tries to minimize the damage. Even in this form he didn't lose a single game!! Last round save against Vakhidov earned us a bronze medal. Adhiban we salute you for your fighting qualities.
And last but not the least.
LALITH BABU board five 2/3 performance 2484.
This is what coach Ramesh had to say about Lalith:
"Must apologise publicly to Rohit Lalith Babu for not letting him play more than he did. It was just that no one lost any games and I didnt want to spoil the momentum with frequent changes. Lalith was a great team player and he supported our decisions whole heartedly. He was helping other players in their preparations which was crucial for the team."
Just two months ago I played in the same team as Lalith in Maharashtra Chess League (MCL) and I was just amazed at this man's flexibilty.
Coach to Lalith: will you play on board 1
Lalith: yes sir!
Coach: will you take black.
Lalith: No problem sir.
Coach: Lalith you will have to win today!
Lalith: Yes sir I will try my best!
Always positive. Always affirmative! That's what he is. I like to call him "the liquid". He will take the shape of the role which you put him into!! Sitting outside is not an easy job! Lalith did not only sit outside but he did so with a smile on his face which is so important for the other players morale. He helped them prepare. Just imagine having a great player with a phenomenal knowledge as a second!! I think lalith you have not only played a huge role but maybe a bigger role than the other four players because you not only score 2 points but also helped others to score more points!! True team player!!
And the most brilliant thing about Indian team. 11 rounds, 4 boards. That's in all 44 games. And guess the number of games we lost? just 2!!! Just 2 losses in 44 games! That's consistency my friends.
When team India sat on the board they meant business! They were there to win. And it should on their faces and it showed in their moves!! This was a great team!! Love you guys!
Thanks for bringing a smile on a billion Indian faces!
And not to forget the women's team! They tried their best! The finished 10th which is a pretty respectable finish! Kudos to all five of the girls. Harika, Tania, Eesha, Mary and Padmini! We are equally proud of you.
But one girl who won each and every Indian's heart was....
Padmini Rout with a phenomenal 7.5/8 won the gold medal on the reserve board!
Padmini you were the queen of Orissa. But with your performance you have become the queen of India!!
A gold medal on an olympiad debut, that's something only a genius with strong nerves can do! We wish you all the success in your life and hope that with Judit Polgar now retiring, you take up her place!! :)
So my dear friends, Thus ends a huge event in the life of a chess player! Thousands of games everyday to be seen and two teams of India to cheer. But now this gala event comes to an end. It is a little sad but the Indian teams have given us plenty of reasons to be happy and we must thank them for giving us the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful game of chess!