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Know your Commonwealth Champions!

by Sagar Shah - 10/07/2018

On the final day of the Commonwealth Championships 2018, IM Sagar Shah moved around the playing hall with his Samsung Note 8 and a microphone to interview some of the best talents of Indian chess - the Commonwealth Champions 2018. In all 17 Champions were decided that day - 14 age category winners, open champion, women's champion and senior's champion. However, the focus was more on the young winners. They are the ones who have the capability to change the future of Indian chess. In this article you can enjoy over 100 minutes of video with the Commonwealth Champions! 


Manon Reja Neer:

Manon Reja Neer from Bangladesh is a shy young boy. Whenever we tried to interview him, he would run away! But the boy extremely talented. He won the under-8 Commonwealth title 2018 by beating some of the best under-8 Indian players. Trained by Abdulla Al Rakib and Enamul Hossain, two of the best GMs of Bangladesh, this boy has great potential to become a world beater. Thanks to Rani Hamid, who was present with the young boy! She ensured that Manon Reja Neer would speak to us. At the same time we also spoke to Rani Hamid, who won the bronze in the Seniors section of the Commonwealth. From 8 years to 74 years, this interview covers the entire spectrum of Bangladesh chess!


Shriyana Mallya:

Shriyana Mallya from Mangalore, Karnataka, won the Commonwealth 2018 Gold in the under-8 girls section. We got in touch with this cute little talent who tells us about her daily schedule, about her coaches Gahan and Sameer Ghotane from Chess Saga, how she loves going to school and how she balances her chess and education.


Arhan Chethan Anand:

How are so many talents sprouting from the chess hub called Bangalore? Well, in the case of Commonwealth Champion under-10 Arhan Anand the reason is simple - Love for the game of chess. The boy literally breathes, eats and sleeps chess. And he is extremely smart, to the point and logical. He has studied each and every game in Fischer's 60 memorable games. He reads chess news everyday. Kudos to his parents and trainers for instilling the love for classics and the game at such a young age. It goes without saying that with proper direction, this boy will go places and that is for sure! Don't believe us? Check out the video!


Anupam Sreekumar

Anupam Sreekumar is just 10 years old. She has a rating of 1417, but is much stronger than that. She is the reigning under-9 national champion, the former u-7 and u-9 national schools champion and Asian under-10 silver medalist. This girl hailing from Trivandrum in Kerala is surely a big talent and in this video she shows us her favourite game in the Scotch Opening from the last round of the Commonwealth Championship 2018. She won the gold with a score of 6.5/7.


Sreeshwan Maralakshikari

Sreeshwan Maralakshikari has a current rating of 2050, but by the next rating list it would be propelled to 2250! That's because he played exceedingly well at the Commonwealth Championships, winning the under-12 section ahead of many talents with a score of 6.5/7. The boy was trained by IM Ravi Teja, but currently doesn't have a trainer. He says that he has benefited a lot from Jacob Aagaard's book on Grandmaster Preparation: Calculation. His style of play is positional but he is also very alert for tactics. Watch out for this boy who is surely going to become one of the best players in India in the years to come!


Savitha Shri

Savitha Shri won the gold medal in the under-12 girls section at the Commonwealth Championships 2018. She scored 6.0/7. However, there was one round that was extremely important for her to win the title and that was against Sahithi Varshini. Sahithi is another big talent of Indian chess. Sahithi was much better in the game, but Savitha hung on. She didn't give up and won the game. In this video she shows us this encounter and analyzes it for us.

Under -14

L. Jyothsna

L. Jyothsna won the Commonwealth Championships 2018 under-14. The girl is trained in Chennai by FM Pavanasam and IM K. Mitrakanth. They do not really focus much on the openings and hence Jyothsna prepares the first phase of the game on her own. The most critical game for her was against Nityata Jain. She was worse out of the opening, but then found a brilliant tactical stroke that helped her win the game. Check out this game where Jyothsna analyzes the consequences of her sacrifice.

When Jyothsna showed her win over Nityata, the girl from Madhya Pradesh was standing there looking at the analysis. After the video ended she came up to us and said, "I want to add something!" The above video is the result of that. It was a great gesture on Nityata's part because usually the person losing the game does not like to come in front of the camera. But Nityata did and analysed the game with Jyothsna. And for this reason we think that this video is special.


Thilakarathne GMH

Chess in Sri Lanka is growing and improving and a clear indication of that is Thilakarathne's gold in the under-16 section of the Commonwealth Championships 2018. In a section where Raahul VS was completely dominating with 6.0/6, Thilakarathne played an excellent last round game and took home the gold medal. In this video, the young lad from Sri Lanka shows his win over Raahul and also tells us more about how he works on chess and his future plans.


Divya Deshmukh

Divya Deshmukh was analyzing her 5th round victory against Lakshmi C at the Commonwealth Championship 2018 under-16 category. This is not an interview or formal recording, this is just recorded to see how talented players analyze their game. In this video Divya is analyzing her game with the experienced IM from Kolkata Nisha Mohota.


Harshavardhan G B

The 5th round in the Commonwealth Championships 2018 was a very crucial round in the under-18 section Harshavardhan GB, the second seed was facing Rathanvel (2301) the first seed. Harshavardhan attacked his opponent's king relentlessly in the Grunfeld and capped it off with a fine mate. He analyzes the game in this video! Don't miss it!


Tejaswini Sagar

Tejaswini Sagar had a big breakthrough in her chess career. She won the Commonwealth Championships for girls under-18. Tejaswini's mother Anjali Sagar is an extremely passionate chess player. She wanted that her love for the game should be inculcated in her daughter. She taught Tejaswini the moves at the age of 2 years and 10 months. She won her first tournament game at the age of 3 years and 26 days! A record for sure! And now after nearly 15 years she has won the commonwealth title ahead of strong players like Akanksha Hagawane, Harshita Guddanti, Priyanka K and many others! An interview with the Sagar family.


Karthik Venkatraman

This video was not done at the Commonwealth Championships. It was done in Mumbai after Karthik won the extremely strong KIIT International 2018. This video shows how one of the strongest juniors of India thinks and calculates.


P. Karthikeyan

"You should be scared of success!" These are the words from the Commonwealth 2018 Champion Karthikeyan Pandian. Ups and downs, Karthikeyan has seen it all. The Chennai youngster has been so close to GM title for years now. He made his 3 GM norms and also crossed 2500 Elo. But due to some technical rules his one GM norm got rejected. It's been many years since Karthikeyan has struggled to achieve that final GM norm. Instead of getting depressed or frustrated, Karthikeyan haa accepted the situation, learnt from it and moved on. He has ensured that instead of thinking about the norm, it is more important to have the right attitude. He has worked extremely hard on it and the result is here for all to see. Karthikeyan won the Commonwealth Championships with 7.5/9 ahead of so many GMs. Technically he is still an IM but no one considers him a non-GM and for Karthikeyan it doesn't really matter. He is in the zone and he is enjoying it! Check out this amazing interview.


Tania Sachdev

IM Tania Sachdev becomes the Commonwealth women's Champion 2018. After her disastrous start, she recovered really well and took home the Gold. The championship meant a lot to her and she was extremely pleased with what she had achieved. The added incentive definitely was the gilttering trophy, which according to Tania was going to bed with her tonight!


We hope that you enjoyed the videos. There were two champions with whom we couldn't get to speak on the final day - Karthik Sai in the under-14 Open section and V. Varshini in under-20 girls. We are sure to get them on record in some tournament very soon!

From the interviewer's mouth:

At the end of the long day, I was physically exhausted. I did more than 20 interviews spanning over four hours. Constantly thinking of questions, being on your toes to create some of the best instructional material and to make some of the shy players speak is never an easy task. But when I went to the bed I was pleased with the fact that I got to know the thought process of so many new champions. I hope you too find some value in these videos. If you do, please do leave a comment below and subscribe to the ever-growing ChessBase India Youtube Channel (Over 13,000 subscribers now!).

Check out the ChessBase India Channel's Playlist on Commonwealth Championships 2018 which has over 50 videos!

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