What happened when Gukesh and Pragg visited Vishy Anand's home in Chennai
5th February was a wonderful day in the life of India's youngest GM D. Gukesh. He was invited by the five-time World Champion Vishy Anand at his residence in Chennai. Gukesh, as always, was a bit shy and tensed, but once the duo sat down in Anand's training room in front of the chess board, all the shyness vanished. What did Anand and Gukesh analyze. And when later Praggnanandhaa joined in which was game that Pragg wanted to have a look at with Anand? We spoke to Gukesh after the meet and he tells us about his experience and the various positions that were analyzed in the session.
Anand is a busy man. Being the five-time World Champion, and one of the top ten players in the world (even at the age of 49!) he is sought after by organizers for world's strongest tournaments. Facing players half is age, Vishy has to prepare meticulously not to fall in some prepared lines against guys like Carlsen, Caruana, Ding Liren, Giri, Karjakin etc. He is also the brand ambassador for many prominent companies and brands and has to spend time with him. He works for many different organizations including OGQ (Olympic Gold Quest) to promote the sports in our country. Not to forget he is the father of a seven-year-old boy! In spite of all his commitments and schedule, Vishy almost always finds time to boost the young talents of our country.
Anand took note of Gukesh's performance when he was in Tata Steel Chess in Wijk Aan Zee, Netherlands. On the rest day, Anand tweeted:
Anand doesn't take his words lightly. He invited Gukesh to his home in Chennai. The young lad finished his tournament at the Gibraltar Masters 2019 and met Anand at his residence on the 5th of February 2019.
After some initial greetings, Anand and Gukesh both went inside Vishy's training room and started analyzing chess!
So what did Anand and Gukesh discuss on the chess board?
Had some new Grandmasters over . @DGukesh and @rpragchess ! Was fun playing with them. Very quickly we started analysing games from Gibraltar and Wijk.What can I say! Was a proud moment watching them watching me— Viswanathan Anand (@vishy64theking) February 5, 2019
ChessBase India spoke to Gukesh after the interaction. Here's a gist of what happened:
Gukesh's game against Adams:
Gukesh lost to Michael Adams in the third round of the Gibraltar Masters 2019. It was the Rossolimo opening where Gukesh had faced some problems from the black side. Anand and Gukesh went over the game and at the same time Anand suggested some new possibilities for Black which is mentioned in the PGN below:
Praggnanandhaa had a problem in the same line as the game between Aronian and Mamedyarov from Batumi Olympiad 2018. Together they analyzed the game and tried to understand what was going through the mess. If you haven't seen this spectacular game already, then have a look at it with Surya Sekhar Ganguly's excellent analysis and then also watch the final minutes of Mamedyarov beating Aronian which was captured on the video by Amruta Mokal.
The use of engines:
It almost seems unbelievable when Gukesh revealed in one of his interviews on ChessBase India that he doesn't make use of engines to prepare at chess. In the present day when computers have become such an integral part of chess preparation Gukesh's approach is fresh and unconventional. Talking to ChessBase India Gukesh said, "Anand sir told me that right now it would be fine to continue without engines, but at some point I will have to make the switch." But how does Gukesh prepare without an engine? "I usually play the Reti with 1.Nf3 and 2.g3 so I didn't need to use much of engines. It is more about the positional feel."
And what about the sharp Meran system that he plays with Black? Well, Gukesh has good preparation on the opening which he revises before the game. Of course, in some of his games he is unable to recollect his exact preparation and has to invent over the board. Like he had to do against Fernando Peralta where he was outplayed in the opening. After the game Gukesh analyzes his games, once again without engines and tries hard to understand the mistake he made and how he can improve. The use of engines might give Gukesh objectively the best move in the position, but the youngster prefers that his mind is doing the thinking and is not influenced by the engines. This has worked for him until now. It will be interesting to see how long Gukesh will wait before making the switch. In any case, becoming a GM without the use of engines is in itself a commendable feat.
Gukesh was extremely inspired after meeting Anand. Not only was the ches analysis session great fun for him but at the same time just sitting in the room where Anand trains regularly and being surrounded by just about every super tournament trophy, can be a highly motivating experience. As Gukesh told us, "Trophies were great, but I really liked the medals!"
On what he makes of Gukesh the person, Anand said, "Well, basically, he's a Grandmaster and he’s understanding. I don't have to explain stuff very much. We're mostly on the same page on many things. But he's very quiet. He's, you know, obviously one of these ‘My chess will do the talking for me’ kind.”