Siemens PLM Chess Championship 2008 , Pune


  The Warriors

Subsequent to my semi final victory the stage was set for Finals. I had heard from my peer that one of the semi finalists was an extremely good player of chess. He was champion in 2005 and 2006. I decided to gather more information about him. The first step was to find out at what level in organisation he was in. I searched the corporate directory and was amazed to know that he was at a level which was equivalent to My Boss’s Boss. Further , finding  out that he worked on Finite Element mesh abstraction raised his aura in my mind. FEA is something I always dreamt of using and here was the guy who was developing software to solve FEA problems.

The Goliath

          I spoke to him on communicator and fixed up a time to speak to him . He was warm and immediately gave time. I tried to know more about him while he explored my Air Force background and chess passion. During conversation he also told me that her was Finalist in Chess Championship held at IIT Kanpur in 200x?. With a score of 7.5 he had 0.5 adavantage over the other finalist.  After around 35 moves his opponent offered a draw but he declined. The adversary came back to win the game and he was Runners up. He told me a lot of anecdotes on Chess and appeared pretty passionate about the game. By the time we ended our conversation , i had already kept him on a high pedestal and thought winning against him was beyond my capabilities. A descent fight would be good enough. In my thoughts I reconciled myself to take pride in the tag of Runners up at the Siemens PLM Chess Championship 2008


David  Armoring up 

 My heart however wanted me to go for the best ever game of my life and play very good attacking chess. I asked my Boss if I could take a day off to prepare for the finals and he gave an instant go ahead.This is what I admire about great managers like him
                    I spent half the day at home reading chess strategies and commandments and later, I was in office  sorting some issues.

The Setting

The final day arrived, the invitation mail was sent to all company persons to watch the match. THe top floor Yoga room was selected for the purpose.The large glass windows showed picturesque hills and also burgeoning skyline of this IT industry hub Hinjewadi of Pune. Some years back Kasparov and Karpov had played their World championship match on the top floor of WTC. The vast skyline  the sorroundings gave a feeling which was something like that. At the center of room, the game was set. There were chairs for audience and we expected a decent audience of atleast the guys who had played in the tournament but till the last minute we had no audience other than the organiser, photographer and a security man.

The bigul

We begun right on time and with black pieces i didnt know when i would get a chance to attack. First initial moves we fought for central control and RK was the first one to exchange pieces. I knew i had to be very sharp to get offensive. I started threatening all his center pieces and in the process opened up 2 long diagonasl on which my bishops had a free reign.

Locking Horns

                               The amount of force Rk accumulated in center was unprecedented. I started working under disguise from this stage onwards. While , i gave him an impression that I will be still attacking the center, my hidden intention was to open an attack on the h(Kingside Rook) file. By this time a large no. of spectators had slowly collected in the hall and the eyeballs started grabbing the war of wits on board . I do not know how many ;but must be close to 20 odds were watching the battle with bated breath. The atmosphere was charged. For all the slaughters on board there were only silent screams.
 His h file was weakened as he moved more resources in center. Never before in my life I had seen such big fortification and struggle for control of central squares.  While i castled my king to safe position, he decided not to. As the pressure on center mounted, he brought almost 8 pieces to guard his King’s pawn. I diverted my attack on the h file and fourtunately he exchanged a pawn  which opened my h file. Now I was ready to mount a mammoth attak on that file . i launched an offensive and ripped open his corner fortification. His king, uncastled ,became vulnerable to my pieces which where highly mobile. With my attack in full force and he was rendered defensive. I found that with each new attack he had to spend more time thinking his defenses. At one stage he wanted to launch counterattack by placing his Knight in side my territory but I promptly nullified it by exchanging it with a bishop. At that stage he was only left with 5 minutes or more where as I had almost 17 minutes to finish. With equal no. of pieces on both sides, I realised even spending some time will secure me a win. But there  I was in relentless attacks I was 2 moves away from getting annihilated by his forces. His Queen already making inroads into my h flank

                     The Mid riff Bared 😉 

          I started challenging his King from all directions and drove him out of the shell. With hardly few minutes to go, I found that his Queen was standing alone. I do not know why, I put my Queen in such a place where either he had to move  his queen or exchange it. The exchange I calculated would work in my favor as I was in better attacking position.  With a series of checks his immediate focus was his King’s most favorable position  . He moved his King one step. I was gauging his motive but ..suddenly he screemed- ” Isssssh… ” and I immediately looked back on board. His Queeen was available for  capture free. With a swift move I captured it. The hall broke in raptures..there were claps all around . He shook my hands and hurriedly wanted to move.The Champ was dethroned and it was a new beginning for me. The unexpected had happened. The jubiliation started and my first tournament Win was under the belt. This victory has tought me a lot. The discipline, the dedication, the focus, passion, optimism, diligence and parents blessing had all gone into securing this win. This counts amongst one of the happiest days of my life and secures greater committment to perfection in the game.   I am just wondering about Kasparov’s latest book – ” Life immitates Chess”  if it does, then …. its lots of good times ahead 😉

Psychological annihilation in Chess

I am currently playing Siemens PLM Chess tournament in Pune. This is tournament which is held annually in Siemens  to select its Team for Inter IT Chess Competitions. The event attracts some very good players working with Siemens Pune. n

In the Semi Final I was expecting a strong contest because in a Knock out tournaments only consistent winners reach the Semis. Consistent win is something which I admire in people. Australian Cricket Team in yester years, Warren Buffet in Stocks and though personally despised Shahrukh for giving hits and winning local awards.

The usual game begun and we started locking horns on the central squares. The best part about the tournament is the speed which you have to play. The first guy with 30 minutes on the clock loses. So chess becomes a high neuron rather than stretch neuron battle. While I was able to make out the motive behind his moves, I think he failed to read that I was working towards developing all my pieces simultaneously to launch a massive attack. With force concentration and build up a hole is what I was looking for. His desperate and sudden attack gave me a chance and in a blast his defence were ripped apart. I think it was rather unkind to blow away a Semi Finalist in 12 minutes straight. He resigned and ran away. I could feel how dejected he was.   This  got me thinking about the immortal  lines written by Stephen Covey. He said  – ” Besides Boxing, Chess is the most inhuman game man has ever invented ” 

The game crushes the mental confidence of the looser. He is expected to collect all his intelligence to fight and is utterly annihilated by mind power of the winner. When I reflected back on this , I was transported back to my child hood days. In a family of 50 in Calcutta Chess was a whole day engagement with not one guy playing again another but groups playing against each other.

After each move the parties discussed how to counter and it became a more participatory sport than even bull fights. As a child of of 9 yrs I had shown a good level of proficiency to beat olders and this was their way to humiliate me. Groups of 5-7 on 1 side dissecting every move of mine. Giving interpretations and then making a collective move.

On  loosing  material, resignation was not the option . The only way game could end was through Cheque-mate. To make the humiliation more killing they loved to give pawn mate ( Mating move to be done by the most worthless pawn).  The king of loosing side used to be paraded , forked, insulted by pieces . He was relegated to move only on 2 squares and with a lot of deliberations the mate used to occur. I remember having cried for those humiliations.

Those scenes let my thoughts meander to modern international Chess where a lot of psychological warfare equivalent to Sledging has percolated. I heard about non Gentlemanly behaviour by Garry Kasparov where in he bangs pieces on board, makes vicious faces towards the opponent and leaves the seat in between the game to humiliate. I started hating Garry for this and then I met my Finals opponent today. I decided that irrespective of the final to be played next week I would make human contact with him. During our discussion about the game , he told me that the bullying tactics were inflicted on Kasparov by his arch rival Karpov. Such was the pressure on Kasparov that he vomited out during the game. If the reasons for his vomiting were purely psychological then Covey’s comment is not far fetched.  

On reflection , I thought resignation is the most humanizing step done to this game.  The game continues to wreck the mental hygiene of people who play it