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Lucena in Lockdown #5 : GM D.Gukesh

by Avathanshu Bhat - 20/04/2020

Welcome back to Lucena in Lockdown! This time, GM Gukesh and his father Rajini Kanth are here to talk about things a chess player can do in this lockdown, and also the benefits of playing online and playing over the board! Find out what kind of schedule a chess player can enjoy best. Do read Rajini Kanth's statement on what he believes is the best way to proceed if the virus is to be effectively put to an end. Also read on for a note on the services and importance of some people in the country. Stay Home Stay Safe!

Interview with GM Gukesh D. by Avathanshu Bhat

“Did you learn anything new in this quarantine?”

“Well I got around to studying for school a bit.”

“Oh wow! That’s grea-“

“Not really, it was for only one day”

Well, I guess that proves you can pull a chess player back to playing chess, but not away from it!

"This lock down for me is very boring, personally. I am taking classes 2-3 hours each with GM Vishnu Prasanna, which is a group class including IM Leon Mendonca. I get up very late, around 9:30 and nowadays I am perfecting my repertoire of openings. A book I’m reading is My Great Predecessors. I am doing chess for most of the day, so an estimate of number of hours could be a little difficult! Anywhere from 5 – 9 hours, really. 

I feel this game, which I played in Cannes Open 2020 was pretty good. At the time, I was on 2.5 of 3 and was half a point behind the 5 leaders and this round I played one of them, so I had to give my best!"

What a great way to bond over a lockdown! A game of cards! | Photo: Rajini Kanth

"I like playing badminton…in my home! We divide the ‘court’ and we play there! I’m going to do something really physical once lockdown ends because I do not like staying inside my house! I am spending time with my family by watching movies with them and playing cards. However, I am quite lazy and haven’t got around to helping them with chores that much! I was also following the Candidates very closely, and I was rooting for Ding Liren, but now I’m not sure. I have a feeling it’s going to be either Vachier or Ding.

Playing badminton with his family in the most creative way possible! | Photo: Rajini Kanth

"I am really enjoying the online tournaments. Loving the blitz format on screen, but definitely prefer classical over the board, as staring at long hours on the screen is something I don’t prefer. Especially because online tournaments can result in high ping, lagging etc. It’s a different experience, but that’s part of the reason why I like it so much! I had to cancel many over the board tournaments because of this situation, which is really frustrating, because I was in good form and in the mood to play."

Gukesh has been playing a series of online tournaments in this last month, and he is adjusting well to the experience, clearly proven in the 3rd and 5th Saturday Online events!| Photo: Rajini Kanth

“I don’t usually interrupt Gukesh when he is busy with his work," says Rajini Kanth, Gukesh's father. "I do tell him about the upcoming online tournaments, and he will let me know if he feels like playing them or not. If you asked me, I’m definitely worried about the corona virus, especially because it is so real and so many changes are taking place around the world to adjust to it. My wife is a virologist and needs to be sent to the corona ward, and I drive her there. So under these circumstances, I am worrying over Coronavirus first, than a chess career! Because of that, and how real everything is becoming, I haven’t really thought of this period as a ‘break’. I mean sure, it’s good to pause from chess once in a while, but not if you don’t have a choice! You know, Gukesh was in good form, and it was a little upsetting to see him stopped in his tracks by something that cannot be controlled easily. However, I realize that combating the coronavirus and doing everything we can is more important than going for a couple of chess tournaments, even if it’s at the stake of Gukesh’s chess.”

There is something very true to what Gukesh’s dad is saying here. In this time, especially in our country, every bit of cooperation and staying indoors helps. You have so many people working hard to ensure the safety of citizens during this lockdown, all to come undone if it spreads. All the healthcare workers and police officers are all doing their best and risking their lives on a day to day basis. As Rajini Kanth said, there is no telling how much more severe it gets. Yet, cases are decreasing and we are gradually returning to reality from this limbo. It really is not easy to put yourself on the front lines of such a sweeping pandemic, interacting with an endless number of people. And all those that didn't foreshorten the coronavirus and acted immediately are also commendable for instantaneous action. While we can definitely be grateful for the virus itself diminishing, I think we really do need to appreciate these knights that put their work before themselves. It is a statement of how they are risking their lives so you don’t have to. Remember to always stay safe, stay home, and play chess!

Know more about Gukesh:

CBIJ #02: Top ten things you didn't know about Gukesh!  

Gukesh sizzles at the Grenke Open 2019 with a 2700+ performance

Gukesh becomes 2nd youngest GM in the history of chess at 12 years, 7 months and 17 days

Gukesh's unbelievable fortune in Denmark

Gukesh shows an important positional idea that he learnt from Gelfand
National under-11 champion Gukesh's brilliant double bishop sacrifice!
Gukesh becomes the second youngest GM in the world at the age of 12 years, 7 months, 17 day

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