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Koustav Chatterjee becomes an IM without a coach

by Shahid Ahmed - 16/07/2019

15-year-old Koustav Chatterjee scored 3 IM-norms and crossed the rating barrier in 15 months to become one of the latest IM of the country. How was his journey, what it took for him to become an IM, who is his coach and who supported him, everything will be answered in this interview which was conducted after he played three consecutive GM tournaments in India, one of which he claimed to be difficult to score a norm. He has also stated the reason. Koustav has also shared an annotated game which he considers to be the best among the tournaments where he scored his norm. Photo: Shahid Ahmed

Confessions of the courageous Koustav

Koustav talks about a lot of important things about his journey to become an International Master | Photo: Shahid Ahmed

Here is the transcript of the interview:

Shahid Ahmed (SA): You are a very quiet nature person. Do you think that helps you when you are playing chess?

Koustav likes to keep a poker face | Photo: Shahid Ahmed

Koustav Chatterjee (KC): Frankly I don't think I am that quiet nature person anymore. Like everyone says, I talk more. I guess it makes it look like smarter but I don't think it impacts chess that much. You can talk more and still be good.


SA: Which IM-norm was the most difficult one to score?

Koustav scored his final IM-norm in KIIT GM Open 2019

KC: It's probably the one in KIIT, the most recent one. Because, obviously KIIT is famous for being a difficult open. It's an Indian open plus KIIT allows everyone to play like even 1100s and all. So it's not a problem, but it's very difficult to score a norm. In the first two rounds, you face 1600-1700 and then if you draw once, then it's just over. You have to win every game against lower rated players and then you must win one game or just draw everything just like I did against higher rated players.


SA: Did you come up with a specific strategy for this particular tournament?

Koustav's performance at Mayor's Cup 2019

KC: No, actually I didn't think that I would do any good in KIIT. I thought that okay I will be playing in three tournaments - KIIT, Mumbai and Goa. Mumbai and Goa are comparatively stronger tournaments I think and I thought that if I score a norm then it would be in the next two. I was out of practice for some time. So I thought maybe I will use KIIT to get some feel for the game.


SA: Which book or study material did you use on your way to secure IM-norms?

KC: There is no real particular study material but I must say that I like the site chess24. It's the best chess site in my opinion. The video series is very good. I did the video series with Gustafsson, like the Nimzo video series. I based my repertoire on that stuff. Now I will change because I said it. Before I used to do it like that.


SA: Whom will you thank for your success?

The second IM-norm was earned by Koustav in Aeroflot Open 2019 B

KC: I would like to thank my parents, because they are very supportive and all. All the time they help me in doing everything. I would also like to thank my school because they let me play all these tournaments. Last time in class 9, I wasn't forced to appear for the annual exams, I could go on and play in Aeroflot Open. There I scored my second IM-norm. I didn't take the annual exam and still I was allowed to get promoted to the next class because on merit. So I am grateful to my school. Thirdly I would like to thank DDDBCA because they are helping me a lot.


SA: When you went to play Aeroflot Open 2019 B, the first round got cancelled, how did it impact you?

Koustav with his friend Aronyak seen outside the venue Hotel Cosmos after round 1 got cancelled in Aeroflot Open 2019 A and B | Photo: Reza Mahdipour

KC: Actually it was too early in the game to decide, but I got to know my opponent so it was good. Like I understood my opponent's strengths and weaknesses. I got to know that he plays some strange opening and I could prepare and play those.


SA: Who is your coach?

Koustav was seen to have attended Chilean GM Rodrigo Schroeder's camp organized by and at DDDBCA | Photo: Shahid Ahmed

KC: Right now I don't have a coach but I just use this video series material etc. and I just work, but I am looking for a coach.


SA: Whom would you like to have as your coach?

KC: Okay I can't say that actually, but I mean I can't decide it.


SA: What's next for you?

KC: I will play three tournaments in Czech Republic - Pardubice Open, somewhere in Prague, close GM tournament. I am looking to score at least two GM-norms there I guess.


SA: Do you think that selecting tournaments plays a key role in getting norms and increasing rating?

KC: Yeah sure. You must select tournaments very well, because if you play in like KIIT every time, I don't think you will score many norms and you will just lose rating, motivation and all. So you should choose good open tournaments. Like I am playing in Pardubice and this close GM. These are very strong open tournaments. So I know I have some chances to do something good there. I am motivated. In KIIT, I didn't know that I will do anything. I was unmotivated, I just wanted to play some games but still I managed to get a good score.


SA: How do you choose your tournaments?

Koustav's parents - Kalyan Chatterjee and Babita Chattopadhyay | Photo: Kalyan and Babita's facebook

KC: Firstly, it depends on my parents schedule. Like if they can go with me, it's very good because I don't usually travel in tournaments alone but in KIIT I have a good friend Ambarish Sharma. I go with him every time. So in KIIT, it's different.


SA: Thank you Koustav for speaking with ChessBase India, I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

KC: Thanks.


Here is an annotated game by Koustav from 12th Mayor's Cup 2019:


Previous coverage of Koustav

Koustav's hardest position challenge | Video: Shahid Ahmed
Koustav shows how Peter Nielsen's DVD helped him become champion | Video: Shahid Ahmed



Koustav talks about how Arjun Erigaisi carried the team in World Youth 2018 | Video: Shahid Ahmed
Koustav talks about The Telegraph School Chess | Video: Shahid Ahmed
Koustav helped his school Garden High end South Point's 11-year-reign | Video: Shahid Ahmed
Koustav's sharp endgame against his hometown's youngest GM Diptayan Ghosh | Video: Shahid Ahmed


Koustav Chatterjee wins 1st DD-DBCA All Bengal Open Rating 2019

IM Koustav Chatterjee's hardest chess position challenge