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A thrilling experience at the Tata Steel Chess India 2019

by Lokesh Natoo - 09/12/2019

The Tata Steel Chess India 2019 was the biggest ever tournament organized not just in India, but Asian soil. Held at the National Library in Kolkata, you had a huge number of people visiting the venue on a daily basis. Of course, it was a delight for the chess fans living in the city. However, the fans were not just limited to Kolkata or West Bengal. Players from all across the country travelled to the city of joy to get a glimpse of their favourite players in action. One such individual is Lokesh Natoo. Lokesh is not a competitive chess player, he doesn't even have a rating. But he loves chess. He travelled from Mumbai to witness two days of the Tata Steel Chess India action. In this article he recounts his thrilling experience! Also in the article are the winners of the ChessBase India giveaway contest for Tata Steel Chess India 2019.

Passion takes you places

By Lokesh Natoo


Beauty of life lies in being passionate about something. We need not be an expert in that thing, the passion is enough! Neither I’m a rated chess player nor do I have any professional relation to chess. But what I have for chess is endless love, passion and energy. I am Lokesh Natoo, a hobby Chess player and yes, I love chess so much that I am online chess once every couple of hours!

Lokesh is director of operations at 21st North Europ Assistance. But for a couple of days he turned into a chess enthusiast, when he visited the Tata Steel Chess India 2019

The moment it was announced that Grand Chess Tour’s final leg is in India, Kolkata, I was fully determined that I’m going to be in Kolkata by all means. This was perhaps my best chance to see our very own five-time World Champion, the legend, Viswanathan Anand, the World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen and other 8 top GMs. (I was excited about Levon Aronian equally, a gem of a person that he is!). 


The first thing I did the moment the tickets became available was to book two days of tickets for the blitz event on 25 and 26 November. I then booked a flight from Mumbai and ensured to book a stay in a hotel that was extremely close to the National Library and Taj Bengal where the tournament was taking place and the players were staying respectively.

Day 1

Early morning, I reached the venue and studied literally everything as the National Library campus is huge. I asked several people around, about the entry of the players, could we meet them, take pictures with them, where was the lobby, what is the nature of these players, who are approachable, how’s the security, around what time players will arrive, just about every question that would get be better prepared to meet my heroes! 

As it was early morning, the playing hall was absolutely empty. 

"I went up to the stage and touched the pieces. This was surely a big moment for me." 

Brand Ambassadors of Indian chess 

I could ask Sagar, Amruta and Tania for a click and they did with a smile. Sagar and Amruta from ChessBase India are currently facilitating and capturing everything about Chess world and bringing it to India. Hats off to their commitment and enthusiasm.

With the founders of ChessBase India

Initial Goosebumps

Around afternoon, I was able to see all the GMs coming and I was thrilled. Then came the moment of my life, I saw Vishy coming out from his car. I do not have a good word to describe how I felt at that moment! Perhaps, Goosebumps describes it the best! This was not enough though! A few seconds later, Carlsen came with his aura! This was a big high. I sat in the playing hall and saw all 9 rounds of blitz. I had no food, no water, rather I never realized that I was hungry. It’s a very special feeling when you watch chess live. There is lot that happens beyond the board and that actually plays a big role! Carlsen is different on the board and completely different off it. Vishy kept getting the biggest applause whenever he appeared on stage. It was tough to see an out of form Aronian. After a long day, the players were exhausted and with tight security I couldn’t get a picture with Anand and Carlsen. I did get one with Aronian and Wesley So! It made me so happy that I spent 3-4 hours at Park Street enjoying cool weather with all smiles. I could hardly sleep that night! 

Day 2

Day two started with a couple of quick draws for Carlsen and some good victories for Vishy. But the joy was shortlived as Vishy blundered against Vidit and lost on time against Giri. It's surely tough to play on home soil. The pressure is sky high. Carlsen kept picking up points and eventually won by a big margin. Despite having a spot in GCT finals and having already won the the Kolkata leg of the Grand Chess Tour, Carlsen pushes for a win in every game. While most players aspire to win tournaments, Carlsen wants to win just about every game! It must be mentioned though that Ding Liren managed to beat Carlsen in both the blitz games! The closing ceremony was short and sweet. 

The closing ceremony!

Don’t Give up

With extremely tight security in place, after giving autographs to the kids, a big heart-breaking moment arrived - the players left venue! I was blank. Thoughts like I travelled 2200 kilometres to see Vishy and Carlsen but could not even take a picture with them. Surely, this was not fair. I tried the last trick up my sleeve. I went to the Taj Bengal hotel where the players were staying (booked an Uber Moto - it's famous in Kolkata) and hoped that I could meet Vishy or Magnus.

Moment of my Life 

The moment I entered Taj, I saw a relaxed Vishy talking to Sagar! My heartbeat went up. I waited for around 20 minutes. As soon as the interviewed ended I went up to Vishy and showed him a photo on my phone!

This was the Ganpati decoration Lokesh's place surrounded by pictures of Vishy Anand's chess journey!

Seeing the picture, Vishy smiled and started talking with me. I was thrilled beyond measure. I thought I will get a heart attack out of happiness! Those 2 mins! Whoa! Those were, are and will be the most precious moments of my life.

A memory of a lifetime!

My good fortune hadn't ended yet. A few minutes later, I saw Carlsen approaching. I requested him for a picture and the World Champion obliged! I also got to meet all other GMs, arbiter, photographers, players team, literally everyone! 

One with the World Champion!   

Indian Chess mean Vishy !

To bring such tournament in India and getting all top GMs along with opportunity Harikrishna and Vidit to be a part of the event is possible only and only because of Vishy Anand. Chess in India, with a bright new generation of GMs, all inspired, look up to Vishy! For an ordinary guy like me I got the best two days of my life attending this event. I’m sure India will be part of the Grand Chess Tour and become a regular stop for top Chess Super tournaments!  What I felt in those 2 days is incomparable! I hope many more chess fans will visit the venue for Tata Steel Chess 2020!

A sincere thanks to Sagar, Amruta and ChessBase India for giving me the opportunity to share my wonderful experience with you. 

The ChessBase India giveaway

In our previous article on Tata Steel Chess India 2019 we had announced a ChessBase India giveaway. The contest was "Write down in the comments section below as to why you enjoyed the Tata Steel Chess 2019. The most interesting and creative answer will win the ChessBase 15 DVD signed by eight participants of the event!"

This is the prize!

The winner of the contest is Srivathsan D. This is what he wrote:

Well there are many reasons why I liked this Tata Steel tournament:

1) Though the quality of games were inarguably top-notch considering the fact that it's Rapid+Blitz, there were many amusing moments which showed us yet another time that these super GMs are humans and could crack under pressure as well!


- Ding Liren failing to convert the rook + 2 pawn winning endgame and Vidit forcing the stalemate with rook check.

- Vidit's check with king against Nakamura (Ke3 ! - Illegal move :v)

- Magnus draws the game against Vidit in <5 moves and shocks everyone. People started to worry that Magnus gonna do it through out the day; only to find later that Magnus was actually not feeling well. Funny thing was when Anish commented that he wanted to beat the record of Vidit and draw the game in <4 moves against Carlsen. (Alas ! His draw offer got rejected. )

2) Continuous updates and interviews by Tania Sachdeva with the players provided an insight as to what was actually going inside the player's mind. It was amusing to find that, though the players were great rivals across the chess board, the off-board environment was friendly and funny.

3) Vishy Anand quiz, particularly the one with Monster Magnus was mind-blowing to watch. This guy could even remember the year of the tournament (leave alone the the actual move, opponent details etc.). It was funny when the troll master Anish Giri started his comments with "It's embarrassing" when Magnus couldn't remember the key to Anand-Beliavsky game (Ndxe6).

4) Other funny moments of Anish Giri :

- When he became the brand ambassador for Vedika Gujarathi's chocolates and admitted his motive was to get more chocolates in return xD.

- Disturbing and pressuring Vidit when he is trying to ace the Vishy quiz (the same Beliavsky game).

- Sees a person randomly in Gym only to find out later that it was Virat Kohli.

5) Amazing live commentary by Saint Louis team. Frequent and interesting updates from Chessbase India team (special mention-the video covering the tournament venue). Last but not the least, Fantastic Audience ! - There were many situations when they wanted to clap as soon as Vishy concluded his game with a win, but they restrained themselves most of the times since the other players were still playing!


Srivathsan, write to us at with your residential address and we will courier the DVD to you.


There were three more answers that we liked a lot. Unfortunately they do not win the prize, but we would like to mention them for taking the effort and writing down their thoughts!


"I just want to see only anand games in tata steel just like we did in cricket when sachin tendulkar batting .... Because I am anand fan...But something different happened in this tournament..When tournament stars i am following anand but when I saw harikrishna games, he is the wall just like rahul dravid defense, hari defense is unbreakable...Then I saw vidit game he is like Rohit sharma,...His win against anand is just like rohit 200 in odi....Then last day I saw anand interview on chessbase india youtube channel ....Wow this man is full of motivation..I have no words ...He is a kapil dev, sachin tendulkar, virat kohali, dhoni of indian chess who one the world cup for 5 times....And the last Sagar shah is like Harsha Bhogale ... Cricket commentary means harsha bhogale and Sagar Shah means chess coverage, commentary..." - Vishal Kamat


I liked tata steel 2019 the most due to some very good moments that makes the tournament and game of chess fun.

(1) the draw of carlsen And vidit after 5 moves and the most fun part of this was expressions of people who saw this live and especially sagar sir, he just stood up and that expression was of a true chess lover .

Also after draw the Carlsen gave a very good expression.

(2) the second thing I loved the most that the dominance of carlsen throughout the tourney though more competitive events are fun but there was a kind of fun in watching the dominance of world champ.

I'm not considering Carlsen's games are reason of his dominance but the way he plays this sport and his attitude is just god level .

And the Other thing is he rejected draw vs anish but he confidently drew with visit .

This was a amazing gesture by him.

(3) And the last thing is the quality of games played in this event. Though I'm not a very good player and can understand their moves quite later or after review but this is the first ever event I saw it live .

The last thing I also loved is the coverage by Chessbase India of each and every point of this tourney. The reason I'm saying this is because I and every other who is writing comments is due to the news and updates we got from u.

So acc. to me you and your team are the most important for we audience coz we might have got news somewhere in corner of paper or on some of the small chess sites but the quality of news and match reviews we got was the main factor.

I have not mentioned any of good moves in different games as I'm still trying to understand.

Thanks. - Jenil Patel


I enjoyed Tata Steel because

1. It was the first biggest tournament with almost all the top players participating

2.An excellent coverage by Chessbaseindia {I saw all the videos]

3.Encouraging more people towards chess

4.Getting to learn a lot from the games played by champions

5. Proud that our country is the host of such a big tournament

I thank chessbase india for your excellent coverage need more coverage like this in future learned a lot from the videos. - Arnav

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