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Lucena in Lockdown #6 : GM Raunak Sadhwani

by Avathanshu Bhat - 25/04/2020

"This is the best time for a chess player, and I am using it to my best!" says GM Raunak Sadhwani. Today we will be exploring a little on the 14-year-old prodigy. Always serious about his chess, Raunak spends 9-10 hours in a single day toiling away in online tournaments, solving positions and working on his openings. Exploring all the aspects of chess, he finds the online tournaments very convenient and plays lots of them very frequently.  His mother however, feels that Raunak needs to face a real tournament, because "Raunak is hardly getting the motivation without them." Find out what Raunak feels the chess community needs less of in this edition of Lucena in Lockdown!

This is the best time for a chess player

Interview of Raunak Sadhwani by Avathanshu Bhat

India's latest (65th) GM - Raunak Sadhwani | Photo: David Llada

"I am working almost the entire day on chess, around 9-10 hours a day. Openings, Middlegames and endgames are my main focus. Some are books like Python Strategy by Tigran Petrosian, and restarting Gelfand’s Positional Decision Making. I’ve already read it once, but I am now visiting it again. I am also actively playing in a lot of online tournaments, and I like how you can be comfortable at home and still play these events.

Raunak fully decked out and geared up to play online, with the help of accessories by RedGear, Razer and GreenSoul! | Photo: Raunak Sadhwani

Highlights of GM Raunak Sadhwani (2479) - GM Alexander Motylev (2651), Isle of Man 2019, Round 9.

All annotations by GM Raunak Sadhwani

I played this line just to get a playable position. There is no real advantage in this line for White.

This is a bad positional move on his part because it weakens the f5 square which is very good for white knight.

Here I like my position a lot because black has no clear idea of what he is doing.

Black is taking a lot of risk and is opening up too many fronts with his king still in the center

Now White will have an extra pawn and Black has to exchange the light squared bishop and then white knight can come to f5, giving him a winning advantage.

Find out how Raunak converted this edge into a victory:

"Recently, I chalked out a little area inside my house and play cricket – in the vaguest sense! – with my cousin brother, Prince Sadhwani and little brother Armaan. Prince is also a FIDE Rated player, although he rarely plays. However, the two of us have fun by playing cricket or table tennis. I sill feel like I am unable to really figure something out in the fitness aspect, as my mother also keeps telling me. She frequently asks me to go outside for a walk, but the thought of contracting COVID-19 scares me, and I would rather stay safe than fit! I do want to get back to tournaments, but that cannot be helped whatsoever."

Raunak loves table tennis | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Raunak loves reading Chess books and prefers motivational material to keep him going. You can see his idol in the background! | Photo: Raunak Sadhwani 

“Raunak is finding it difficult to stay motivated when in reality, you never know when this will all stop. Even once it settles down, people will still be wary, so I believe it will take a very long time to return back to the way it was. His chess has taken a hit in way we couldn’t have seen. He was doing quite well too!”


The biggest thing Raunak is missing is playing tournaments. Yes, he plays online regularly, and he enjoys it a lot, if not for one thing. Raunak feels that the biggest con of playing chess online on any platform will always be the cheaters. “You know, it can be super discouraging to be leading a tournament online, having your hopes up, and then just falling back because a random player is suddenly playing impeccably. I get frustrated, thinking that I wasted all my time playing this tournament, only to be faced with an impenetrable wall. Yes, I reported the player and he was banned soon, but I still feel that as long as anything online exists, there will always be cheaters. I think they really need to add an anticheating or a flag for cheating button during a tournament, because this is the only thing really separating playing online and playing on the board. Apart from that, no complaints!"

Raunak is worried about cheaters when playing online, but that hasn't stopped him from participating in numerous ChessBase India online events, and he also has won quite a few prizes!

Honesty is a virtue that comes as a part of being a chess player. Chess has always been the gentleman’s game, the game where everything is friendly, the game where no player is overly expressive after a victory, simply to stay level and respect the opponent with a handshake to end the game. Which is why seeing people trying all sorts of foul attempts to best the other player is quite surprising. I mean, what is the appeal, what is the fun? Knowing that there is a very high possibility these days of getting caught? Knowing that your name and reputation will be tarnished and blacklisted henceforth in the game? And even, come to that, when you do win, where is the satisfaction? Of not going through the arduous process and grind of everyone else, and beat another person with no skill?


Does a cheater never think of these things before cheating? It's a bleak attempt to win a tournament, an online tournament. Come on! You ruin the reputation of the game, the fun and interest of the players and a failed tournament, even if only a single person got scammed out. It is very hard to fathom a serious chess player throwing everything he loves away, just for the short and ‘sweet’ satisfaction at the expense of another good soul. Chess players are better than this as a community, and Raunak is perfectly right in thinking that it is about time these guys disappear from the scene.

Know more about Raunak Sadhwani:

Breaking news! Raunak Sadhwani is India's 65th GM

Raunak Sadhwani scores his maiden GM norm at the Aeroflot Open 2019

The ingredients that helped Raunak Sadhwani become the 65th GM of India

Mature beyond his years: Raunak Sadhwani

Rapid fire with India's 65th GM - Raunak Sadhwani
Facing a legendary opponent - Raunak Sadhwani vs Peter Svidler | World Blitz 2019 Round 10
Talent Test with India's 65th GM 13-year-old Raunak Sadhwani

About the author

Avathanshu Bhat is one of the youngest and finest journalists of Indian chess. He is 15 years old now, but wrote his first article when he was just 11. He is also the head of ChessBase India Juniors and the manager of ChessBase India Elite Pass.

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