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Why Chennai is the chess capital of India!

by Sagar Shah - 21/04/2017

The final leg of Jacob Aagaard's series of lectures in India was Chennai. While the response was great at other places, it was simply unbelievable what was witnessed in Chennai. The morning trainings had eleven grandmasters attending it including India's latest sensation B. Adhiban. In the open evening session nearly 250 people attended Jacob's lecture on "What is Calculation?" At the end of the day Aagaard understood why Chennai is called the chess capital of India!

After travelling 4638 kilometres, Jacob Aagaard had reached his final destination in India! The chess capital of India, the place where Vishy Anand resides - Chennai!

It was going to be one of the most intense training session ever. Eleven grandmasters had enrolled for the training camp with Jacob Aagaard in Chennai. Apart from it there were strong IMs and legendary women players like Vijayalakshmi, Meenakshi and Aarthie Ramaswamy!

Five hungry grandmasters ready to consume chess knowledge

Aarthie, Vijayalakshmi and Meenakshi putting in all of their energy!

The wonderful hosts: GM R.B. Ramesh and WGM Aarthie Ramaswamy who readily agreed to hold Jacob's lectures in Chess Gurukul without any charge.

Smiles and a flowery welcome...

...but very soon things became really intense!

According to Jacob,"Although the level of the players at the session was very high, it was the easiest one for me to conduct because the players understood everything that I wanted to convey. It was like talking to a group of friends who understood a common language."


Most of the positions given to the participants weren't so tough. They were simple, but not easy. And many times we mistake simple things for being easy. Here's an example:

White to play. What would you do?
[Event "Skopje (ol) (var)"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1972.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Huebner, R."]
[Black "Sigurjonsson, G."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A16"]
[Annotator "Candidates"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "r2nr3/4ppbk/2p3pp/3n4/2Q1N3/3P1BPq/3BPP2/1R2R1K1 w - - 0 23"]
[PlyCount "17"]
[EventDate "1972.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "Montenegro"]
[BlackTeam "Montenegro"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "MNE"]
[BlackTeamCountry "MNE"]
{Analysis by Huebner.} 23. Ng5+ (23. Bg4 Qxg4 24. Ng5+ Qxg5 25. Bxg5 hxg5 $13)
(23. Nd6 $3 {is the right move.} exd6 24. Bg4 $18 {And the queen is trapped.})
23... hxg5 24. Bg4 Qh6 25. Kg2 f5 26. Rh1 fxg4 27. Rxh6+ $1 (27. Bxg5 Qh3+ $1
$13) 27... Bxh6 28. Rh1 Kg7 29. e4 Nf6 30. e5 Nd5 31. Qxg4 $14 {White is
slightly better, but it is clear that Nd6 was much stronger than Ng5!} 1-0

A smile naturally sprouts when you do something you love! GM Aravindh Chithambaram (2588)

Adhiban, who was back from finishing joint first at the Sharjah Masters, came to the Chess Gurukul to meet his friends. But soon he too was bitten by the chess bug!

Chess can be fun! Two-time-National Champion Karthikeyan Murali and Adhiban Baskaran discussing the answers!

Come on guys! That was really easy!

Adhiban had quite a tough time cracking the puzzles. One would imagine that a player of his calibre would breeze through the problems. However, he wasn't able to solve quite a few. While this would have disappointed many players, Adhiban's positive attitude stands out, "This session clearly showed that I have a lot to improve. If I could finish third at Tata Steel with my current level, you can only imagine what I am capable of when I get better!" Jacob was thoroughly impressed with Adhiban's approach and predicted that he would be one of the top ten players in the world very soon!

IM CRG Krishna travelled all the way from Andhra Pradesh to attend the camp. He was definitely not disappointed!

Jacob would give the sheet of problems to the students which consisted of six positions. And while they are thinking he would correct the answers that were already written and discuss if anyone had gone wrong. This helped him to give personal attention in a group class!

In between his lecture Jacob found the time to give a simul and scored 4.5/5. The boy in the yellow t-shirt Badri managed to gain a draw.

One of the biggest talents in Indian women's chess - R. Vaishali with her father Rameshbabu. Vaishali is the sister of world's youngest IM R. Praggnanandhaa.

When the coach becomes a student! Ramesh cancelled all his classes so that he could be a part of the training session.

When it came to spotting little tactics, Ramesh was really good. After day one ended Jacob asked me, "Who do you think was the best solver today?" I guessed a few names starting with Karthikeyan, then Aravindh, Vishnu so on. With a smile on his face Jacob said, "It was Ramesh! I gave him the wrong sheet, he solved all the six positions, took the correct sheet and solved the next six as well! All this he did when others were still solving the first sheet!"

Six time National Champion Vijayalakshmi Subbaraman

Sundararajan Kidambi is a strong player and an excellent writer. In case you have missed it, do read his article on Chess as an Art. We won't be surprised if he soon writes a bestselling chess book!

Sumptuous lunch prepared by Aarthie's mother was...

...enjoyed by one and all

Technically the training session had already ended. But Aagaard always likes to deliver more than he has promised. Hence, he invited all the players to another three hour session of calculation! But in order to take a small break and refresh themselves, the players indulged in Hide and seek.

It was really much more fun than one would have imagined!


You must see this video to find out how Jacob executed the hidden move!
In case you enjoyed the above video do subscribe to the ChessBase India Youtube Channel.

A formal group photo!

And a not so formal one!

Jacob is strong!

Really strong!

Evening open session

The evening session which was open to everyone for free was at Bala Vidya Mandir school in Adyar. It was arranged by the Chennai District Chess Association (CDCA).

At the gates of the Bala Vidya Mandir School

The principal of the school welcomed Jacob with smiles, warmth, juice and chocolates! He even offered a book as a gift.

Nearly 250 people attended the session! The hall was packed to the brim!

One of Jacob's contribution to chess. His definition of Calculation. Here's a position for you to flex some brain muscles:

What should Black play?
[Event "Millionaire Chess Open 2014"]
[Site "Las Vegas USA"]
[Date "2014.10.10"]
[Round "4.8"]
[White "Shankland, Sam"]
[Black "Felgaer, Ruben"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D10"]
[WhiteElo "2633"]
[BlackElo "2577"]
[Annotator "CANDIDATES"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "4r1k1/3q1ppp/2n5/p2p1b2/3PnP2/1PN2BP1/PB5P/3R1Q1K b - - 0 29"]
[PlyCount "38"]
[EventDate "2014.10.09"]
29... Nb4 $2 {This was not the best move.} (29... Nxc3 $1 {would have won
instantly.} 30. Bxc3 Re3 $19 31. Bb2 Rxf3 $19) 30. Kg1 (30. Na4 $5 $15) 30...
Nc2 (30... Rc8 $1 $17) 31. Qa6 Nxc3 32. Bxc3 Bg4 33. Bxg4 Qxg4 34. Qd3 Nb4 35.
Qd2 h5 36. Re1 Rxe1+ 37. Qxe1 h4 38. Bxb4 axb4 39. Kg2 h3+ 40. Kf2 Qf5 41. Qe2
Qb1 42. g4 Qh1 43. Kg3 Qg1+ 44. Kxh3 Qxd4 45. Qe8+ Kh7 46. Qxf7 Qe3+ 47. Kh4 d4
48. Qh5+ 1/2-1/2


White is badly pinned. How does he wriggle out of the mess?
[Event "College Final Four 2013"]
[Site "Rockville USA"]
[Date "2013.04.06"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Sadorra, J."]
[Black "Paikidze, N."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D38"]
[WhiteElo "2483"]
[BlackElo "2392"]
[Annotator "Candidates"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "3r2k1/pp3ppp/3Bb3/q7/nbBQ4/4PN2/P4PPP/2RK3R w - - 0 18"]
[PlyCount "47"]
[EventDate "2013.04.06"]
[EventRounds "3"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[WhiteTeam "Montenegro"]
[BlackTeam "Montenegro"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "MNE"]
[BlackTeamCountry "MNE"]
18. Bxe6 fxe6 (18... Bxd6 19. Bxf7+ (19. Ke2) 19... Kxf7 20. Ke2 $18) 19. Ke2
$2 (19. Rc8 $3 Rxc8 (19... Nc3+ 20. Ke1 $18) 20. Bxb4 Qb5 21. Kd2 Nb6 22. Bc3
Nc4+ 23. Ke1 e5 24. Qd3 $18) 19... Nc3+ 20. Rxc3 Bxc3 21. Qc4 Rxd6 22. Qc8+ Rd8
$2 (22... Kf7 $1 23. Qxb7+ Kf6 24. Rb1 Qxa2+ 25. Kf1 Qc4+ 26. Kg1 Qb4 $1 27.
Qxb4 Bxb4 $15) 23. Qxe6+ Kh8 24. Rb1 $14 Qa4 25. Ng5 Qc2+ 26. Kf3 Rf8+ 27. Nf7+
Kg8 28. Rxb7 Qg6 29. Qxg6 hxg6 30. Rxa7 Rxf7+ 31. Rxf7 Kxf7 32. a4 Ke6 33. Kf4
Be5+ 34. Kg5 Kf7 35. a5 Bb8 36. f4 Bc7 37. a6 Bd8+ 38. Kg4 Bb6 39. e4 Kf6 40.
e5+ Kf7 41. h4 1-0



Video of 36 minutes of the open session

ChessBase Premium Accounts were given to the students who gave the right answers and there was also a lucky draw for ten chess books offered by Citadel chess!

India's first International Arbiter Kameswaran putting a shawl around Jacob!

It was a rockstar like performance by Jacob

Oh My God! They are everywhere! One of Jacob's favourite moment of the entire trip occurred when a boy shouted from the crowd, "Jacob, you are my role model!"

A huge thanks to Mr. Ganesan and the entire CDCA team for organizing this wonderful evening session

Adhiban on the cover of the New in Chess Magazine

You can buy a copy of the New in Chess Magazine with Adhiban on the cover and autographed by him from the ChessBase India shop for just Rs.500. For more details read this article.


The Indian leg of the journey for Jacob Aagaard's lectures had come to an end. Next up - Malaysia, Hong Kong and Thailand! Stay tuned for the next article!

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