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Champions Combat Corona - IM Neelash Saha

by Shahid Ahmed - 28/04/2020

To find out how the champions are dealing with the global pandemic Covid-19, we decided to start a new series titled Champions Combat Corona where the current National Champions talk about how they are coping with the unprecedented adversity. In this article, the current National Under-17 Open also West Bengal State Blitz and Under-17 Open Champion IM Neelash Saha talks about how he is spending his lockdown days. The worry of the remaining two class 12 board exams is still at the back of his mind, playing online tournaments regularly, doing exercise everyday to make sure his body doesn't slow down and stay fit. We also take a look at one of his online Blitz game win against IM Tania Sachdev. Photo: Niklesh Jain

The Covid Conundrum

By IM Neelash Saha

IM Neelash Saha recounts his days in lockdown | Photo: Shahid Ahmed

I was appearing for my Higher Secondary Class 12 board examination. I had a lot of plans to play various tournaments all over the world. Corona poured cold water on them all.

Neelash made his maiden IM norm at Barbera del Valles in Spain 2018 | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Before getting locked down in my own house, the examinations could also not get finished. Only two exams are remaining. When they will take place nobody knows. I am locked inside my home for more than a month. It's a completely caged life.

How will I spend time? I was worried at first. Now it seems okay. I have accepted the present scenario as things are beyond our control. When I was a kid, I used to hear that it is difficult to play chess without studying chess books. When I started playing chess, Susan Polgar's book was the first one I took my babysteps along with my coach Bijoy Sir (Bijoy Moitra).

Chess Tactics for Champions is the book Neelash started his journey in his early days | Photo: Google books

I noticed that my father also has a lot of books. My father who is a journalist has written a lot on chess.

Nirmal Kumar Saha is a retired Sports Journalist of one of the leading Bangla newspaper of the country - Aajkaal | Photo: Nirmal Saha's fb

Few days ago he published a write up on Sultan Khan on his fb profile

That is why he bought all those books. Autobiographies and biographies of famous chess players and many more.

A glimpse of Neelash's collection of books

Among them, Profile of a Prodigy by Frank Brady, The Soviet Chess School, Russians versus Fischer, Magnus Carlsen's childhood stories in Wonderboy by Simen Agdestein etc. I had already completed both Profile of a Prodigy and Wonderboy before. I just glanced through the other books.

The books that Neelash has read | Photo: Various sources

I have plenty of other books. I had to buy a lot of books for my chess, just like everyone else. I have the entire series of My Great Predecessors by Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess, the recently released Mind Master of Vishy Anand. The read and unread books are my companion in these unforeseen days.

Neelash keeping himself ready for the remaining two exams

There is also the part of playing online tournaments. I am playing plenty of tournaments regularly.

Going outside and walking is completely stopped. I am doing exercise everyday so that my body doesn't slow down and become lazy. The remaining two board exams are still at the back of my mind. It is not something that is happening everyday, even though it's little, I have to prepare for the remaining two exams.

Neelash received Khel Samman 2019-20 Award part of Khelashree scheme by West Bengal government, days before lockdown was enforced

Previous coverage on Neelash Saha

Neelash's journey of becoming an IM | Video: Shahid Ahmed
Neelash on winning National Under-17 Open | Video: Shahid Ahmed
Neelash explains his positional win over GM Vadim Malakhatko | Video: Shahid Ahmed
Neelash beats GM Farrukh Amonatov | Video: Shahid Ahmed
Neelash shows his never give up attitude | Video: Shahid Ahmed


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