Quick Talk with the King: R R LAXMAN
Niranjan: Hello Laxman! Congratulations for winning the Chennai Open on behalf of me and 8cross8.
Laxman: Thank you Navalgund!
Niranjan: How did you feel when you realized that you had won the Chennai Open?
Laxman: I felt elated and also felt like I was on top of the world! I couldn’t believe my sight.
N: How did you get to know the final standings? Did someone tell you?
L: I saw the final ranking and found out that my Buchholz was the best. I was thrilled to find out that I had won the Chennai Open.
N: I have been in a similar situation in my life, where I tied for first and was waiting for the final standings in a restaurant. When I got to know that I had won, I treated myself with some sweets instantly. What’s your story?
L: I gave a treat to all my friends and office people
N: Let’s go a little back. What did you do prior to Chennai Open?
L: I had successful tournaments in Malaysia – Penang and Johor Open. Prior to that, I also had a dream tournament in National Challengers, Ahmedabad as well as National Premier in Bihar. I managed to increase 20-25 rating points everywhere. I’m very happy about the fact that I have been having batch of victories recently.
N: That’s great. And you attribute your success to?
L: A lot of people, actually. T.J Suresh Kumar, both the associations at ICF, and the office people have backed me up well. Also, a lot of chess practice at T.Nagar Chess Academy run by A.L Kasi came handy. I have visited their branches on a few occasions and I played training games against the budding talents there. I used to prepare openings and then try them out against the players from the T.Nagar Chess Academy.
N: How did those games help you in the recent events?
L: I had ample practice of almost all the openings that I was planning to use in the classical tournaments. In addition to that, Kasi has always been encouraging me in the form of conducting rapid events in KK Nagar. One of the main reasons behind my recent success is that I have tremendous experience in every opening I play – at least 1000 games including the internet games.
N: Coming back to Chennai Open, your penultimate round didn’t go in your favour. How did you deal with this?
L: First of all, I played Chennai Open with an intention of increasing rating points – as much as possible. Penultimate round loss didn’t deter me and I wasn’t dejected because I was already increasing 16-17 rating points. Even in case of the last round loss, I would have increased at least 12-13 rating points anyway. I planned to gain in the long run, though it is the last round. A thought occurred to my mind that – Why can’t I try for a win with a draw in hand?
A draw was also on my mind, but I thought of choosing the strategy depending on the course of the game. In the last game, I had a slight edge in the opening, that turned into an enduring plus which suited my style. At some point, I firmly decided to continue and played for a win as the position demanded tenacious resistance from black. It was much easier to play as white!
N: It’s great that the last round was in your favor along with the overall tournament result.
L: Yes, definitely. I could have avoided the penultimate round loss to Ivan Rozum, but it doesn’t matter. He was higher rated compared to me, I had the black pieces and was on the back foot from the opening itself, so didn’t mind it at all. I tried my best to complicate the game, but couldn’t succeed. So, it doesn’t matter.
N: I have been observing that you are playing long games these days. Is it a conscious approach?
L: (laughs) I don’t know, I’m just taking chess more seriously these days, trying to do my best.
N: You have had the share of losses in the past. Tell me about those days and the changes you brought in after reaching a low point.
L: I think it’s all a matter of confidence. My confidence level was low during those periods and now I am feeling much happy and confident. I’m experiencing a high in my confidence recently. There is one person who deserves mention here: Sagar Shah. If you win a tournament and nobody recognizes it, it feels bad. This was never the case after the advent of ChessBase India. He started ChessBase India campaign and he has been consistently promoting chess as well as increasing my confidence level. Because, whenever I win a tournament, he publicizes it on the website and this gives me a lot of motivation and confidence. Feels good that there is someone to recognize by performance and efforts. It boosted me to work harder to prove myself in the world of Chess. Apart from the articles, he also organizes online blitz event on playchess which creates special interest for me in chess. So, Sagar Shah was also instrumental in increasing my confidence and motivation level. I owe part of my success to him, also a part from Suresh Kumar and A.L Kasi.
N: Apart from playing, do you also coach?
L: No, not really. I’m a very active player and play a lot of tournaments.
N: Now, let’s do one rapidfire
Favorite Tournament in India
Favorite Chess Author
Favorite Chess Piece
The King! Because he is the most important piece, for the unlimited value
Favorite Chess Possession
I treasure my chess set that I bought it abroad. I carry it wherever I go.
What’s the special connection you have with this LiquiFlo Gel Pen that you always use?
Ah, Ball Point Gel Pen. Yes, I have been having that pen for many years. I like it because the writings are BOLD and CLEAR. That’s all 🙂
Given a chance, would you like to be the ambassador of the pen?
(laughs) Okay, I will try
Favorite abroad event
Abu Dhabi, 2015. My performance was exhilarating. It was my best performance apart from Commonwealth. Having a rating of 2374, I increased 35 rating points in Abu Dhabi – something that I had never done before. I had also beaten two 2600+ Grandmasters, one 2500+ Grandmaster and a lot of draws with 2600+ Grandmasters and beat the lower rateds. It was a dream tournament. It gives me positive aura and I look forward to going there. I have always performed much above my expectations in Dubai, Sharjah, Malaysia and Abu Dhabi.
Recent movie that you watched
I watched a lot of comedy clips recently, haven’t been to the theatre.
N: So, this is an opportunity. You could catch up with movies in your next 2-3 days before the National Teams.
L: Yes, certainly. You come home, we will go together!
N: Yes. Someday certainly! After National Teams, what’s your next plan?
L: I’ll be proceeding to the forthcoming HD Bank in Vietnam and Dubai Open.
N: What is your way of dealing with the losses?
L: My way of dealing with the losses is not sporting enough. I am hoping to be more sportive towards my losses. I get dejected or depressed when I lose, but I would love to bounce back like Kasparov who plays with full strength after a loss without losing confidence. I’m working on the same at the moment.
N: Yes, we hope you will be able to deal better with them. I also wish you many victories ahead
L: Yes, thank you!
N: Is there anybody else who you would like to thank through this platform?
L: Yes, I have already mentioned A.L Kasi and Suresh Kumar. Apart from this, I would like to thank C.Natarajan, C J Arvind and my childhood coaches – Sreedharan, Madheshwaran and P.Ramachandran Sir – brother of International Master Balasubramaniam who were instrumental in developing my chess potential in my formative years. Of course, it goes without saying that I would not have achieved all that I have achieved without the support of my parents. Special thanks to All India Chess Federation as well as D.V Sundar for all the encouragement.
N: Thank you, Laxman for your time! Wishing you all the best in your future endeavors
L: Thank you, Navalgund