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Jacob and joy in the city of joy!

by Sagar Shah - 12/04/2017

Ganguly, Sengupta, Diptayan, Barua, Neelotpal, Arghyadip, Mohota, usually this would be a line up for a super strong tournament in India! This time it was the list of students for the Jacob Aagaard training session in Kolkata! Aagaard's trip in the city of joy was just for two days, but the amount of work that was done was quite phenomenal. In this report we take you to the 2nd and 3rd of April when the Danish Scottish grandmaster enhanced the chess knowledge of Kolkata! 

Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Delhi witnessed huge number of players looking to improve their chess by attending the lectures delivered by Jacob Aagaard. But one thing that separated Kolkata and Chennai from the first three cities, was the participation of grandmasters!

Barua, Ganguly and Ghosh – the past, present and future of Bengal chess!

But let’s begin from the 1st of April. It was the first rest day for Jacob Aagaard after six gruelling days of lecturing. Half of the day was spent in Delhi and in the evening we left for the city of joy – Kolkata.

Aradhya Garg was a participant in Jacob’s lectures in Delhi. But he learnt so much from the Danish grandmaster, that he booked the flight on the last moment and joined us for the Kolkata leg of the trip.

It always feels nice when you come out of the airport and find the organizers there to pick you up

On the evening of the first day Neelotpal Das and Nisha Mohota took Jacob for a nice dinner at the Haldirams

A fun and eventful evening at the Calcutta Club – a heritage club where Jacob was given accommodation by the organizers

A picture with the fruit seller, whose fruits Jacob loved! A great quality of Aagaard is being modest and down to earth and this is seen amply in the picture above! PS: It was also the first time that Jacob tasted Guava!

On the first day as you entered the room where the training was to take place, you already saw the biggies of Indian chess. Ganguly, Barua, Diptayan, Neelotpal, Saha, Sengupta were all analyzing a position together. Jacob entered the room and took a picture of the position. The puzzle was forgotten and the lecture went on normally. Next day when the session began Jacob setup the position again and showed his analysis to the grandmasters.

The photo taken by Jacob on the previous day was not for nothing. After a hectic first day, he had gone back to his room and analyzed the position in great depth.

The bishop and knight endgame went all the way into the queen endgame and one of the variations even ended in a famous queen versus pawn position.

Ganguly shows his knowledge of endgame studies. The position that you are looking at arises from the following study:

Grigoriev, 1932

White to play and win. Try your hand at solving this position right until the very end.

Going back to his room, studying random positions and trying to create instructive material is a sign of a truly great trainer

Even Ganguly could not remember when was the last time that he had attended a group training. He worked really hard at cracking the positions given by Jacob, but they were not so easy!

Ganguly's take on Aagaard's lectures

In order to become a king, you have to work until the moment your head starts to pain, then enjoy the pain and keep working even harder!

Deep Sengupta was the best student of the session. He was able to solve many of the tough positions correctly!

Looking at the only puzzle that he had missed! Check out the position on Deep’s board. Can you find the best move for Black? (By the way, Deep had seen that move, but thought he could find something better!)

Suvrajit Saha and Neelotpal Das

Amruta Mokal and Nisha Mohota having a tough time cracking the positions

No one was spared!

Rajdeep Sarkar – a grandmaster in the making

You know that the state is in safe hands when the organizers of the event are also in love with the game and trying to solve the positions!

The group picture where each and every player has run out of stamina after incessantly solving the positions!

Some of the positions given by Jacob were really difficult. Let's have a look at a classic. It's an ending played by Paul Keres in 1954.


Fairhurst vs Keres

Black has just taken on g3. What should he retake with?

Try to see as deep as you can. The knight on c2 is trapped, but Black can activate his king and kingside pawns. In such situations accurate calculation is a must. It's your turn. White to play - hxg3 or Kxg3.

[Event "Hastings 5455"]
[Site "Hastings"]
[Date "1954.??.??"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Fairhurst, William Albert"]
[Black "Keres, Paul"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E45"]
[PlyCount "102"]
[EventDate "1954.12.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "ENG"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 b6 5. Nge2 Ba6 6. a3 Be7 7. Ng3 d5 8. cxd5
Bxf1 9. Nxf1 exd5 10. Ng3 O-O 11. Nf5 Re8 12. Nxe7+ Rxe7 13. O-O a5 14. Rb1 c6
15. Na4 Nbd7 16. Qc2 Qc7 17. f3 b5 18. Nc3 Qa7 19. a4 b4 20. Ne2 Rc8 21. b3 Qa6
22. Qd2 Rce8 23. Qc2 g6 24. Nf4 Rc8 25. Nd3 Qb6 26. Bd2 c5 27. dxc5 Nxc5 28.
Rfc1 Rec7 29. Nxc5 Rxc5 30. Qd3 Nh5 31. Qd4 Ng7 32. Rxc5 Rxc5 33. Rc1 Rxc1+ 34.
Bxc1 Qxd4 35. exd4 Nf5 $15 36. Bb2 Ne3 37. Bc1 Nc2 38. Bb2 f5 39. Kf2 f4 40. g4
$1 fxg3+ $2 {Keres needed to win in order to share first place, so he came up
with this wild attempt.} (40... g5 $1 41. h3 $11) 41. hxg3 $1 (41. Kxg3 Ne1 42.
Bc1 Kf7 43. Bf4 Ke6 44. Bc7 Nc2 45. Bxa5 Nxd4 46. Bxb4 Nxb3 $11) 41... h5 42.
Ke2 $2 (42. f4 Kf7 43. Ke2 Kf6 44. Kd2 Kf5 (44... Na3 45. Bxa3 bxa3 46. Kc2 Kf5
47. b4 $18) 45. Kxc2 Kg4 46. Bc3 $1 Kxg3 (46... bxc3 47. b4 Kxg3 48. f5 $1 gxf5
49. b5 $18) 47. Be1+ $3 (47. Bxb4 axb4 48. a5 h4 49. a6 h3 50. a7 h2 51. a8=Q
h1=Q $19) 47... Kxf4 (47... Kg4 48. Kd2 h4 49. Ke2 $18) 48. Kd3 g5 49. Bd2+ Kg4
50. Ke2 $18) 42... g5 43. Kd2 h4 44. gxh4 gxh4 45. Ke2 Kf7 46. Kf2 Kg6 47. Kf1
Kg5 48. Kg1 Ne1 49. Bc1+ Kf5 50. Be3 Nxf3+ 51. Kf2 Ke4 0-1


The evening session held at ICCR dealt with the topic of “What is Calculation?” It was attended by many people and they learnt Jacob's key principle regarding calculation.

"Slow down and look." This is an extremely important principle that Jacob has repeated again and again on this trip. Many people think that slowing down would mean getting under time pressure. But imagine this scenario: You have to deliver a parcel to your friend's house. You have the address with you. You are running on the street in order to reach his place as soon as you can. While you are trying to run fast, you also need to slow down to check the name of the street and make sure you reach the right address. This is exactly what slowing down means. You have to look in the right direction. Now let's put this theory into practice and try solving this position:

White has just snapped off the pawn on b5. What should Black play?

Try to slow down and look at your options carefully. Once you have your answer ready check out the explanation of Jacob.


 Who will trust a thief!

Another thing to learn from Aagaard is the fact that just about any game can teach you something. The above position is taken between Harshvardhini (1239) and Ayantika Das (1453) from the under-11 girls Indian championship in 2016!

West Bengal Secretary Atanu Lahiri is the man who organized the Jacob Aagaard in Kolkata event. A completely dedicated person, Atanu left his job at LIC so that he could boost the game in the state of West Bengal. And he is doing some phenomenal work which includes the first Eco camp and tournament for students of the tribal area. Expect an article on those events on our newspage.

A small carving of Goddess Durga gifted to Jacob

She is the warrior goddess, whose mythology centers around combating evils and demonic forces that threaten peace, prosperity and dharma of the good.

Before going to the airport to catch our flight we made a small stopover at the Dibendyu Barua Chess Academy, where Jacob gave a lecture on the "three questions".

The kids were young and inquisitive. These 30 minutes of learning with such a top trainer is sure to boost their chess understanding.

The entire team of DBCA

A special mention must be made about Shahid Ahmed (centre) who works at the DBCA. He has an author for ChessBase India and has written some excellent articles. One of them which is worth reading for its meticulous effort is "Carlsen in Simpsons."

While leaving Barua's chess academy all the moms gathered together to take a picture with Jacob!

Nisha Mohota and her father with Jacob outside Navneet Kunj, Nisha's residence in Kolkata

One of the main reasons for going to Nisha's place was for Jacob to sit on the Jacob sofa! Jacob sofa? What is that? This is what Nisha explains on Facebook:


"For many years I have been pestering my dad to come along with me to get some nice sofa for our house but he never showed any interest. Then I got to know that my good friends Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal will be coming to Kolkata along with Jacob for the training camp. Since I have shifted house, I always wished Amruta and Sagar come home, so I was expecting all three of them at home during their short visit. I told my dad that now I just need the sofa as there should be some nice place for Jacob to sit! Finally 3 days before they came, we went to a shop and got "my first ever sofa"! We named it 'The Jacob sofa'!"

Well if you haven't got it already, don't miss out on Nisha's amazing DVD - "Strengthen your chess foundation" from ChessBase India shop at Rs.999/-

Famous siblings in Indian chess - Nisha and Swati Mohota

A thoroughly exhausted Jacob waits at the airport for his flight to Chennai!

In case you are not exhausted by reading this report, here's a final cute little position for you to solve.


Hammer - Neiksans, Pro chess league

Black to play? Come on, even if you are as exhausted as Aagaard, you must find this one!

The quality of this report was greatly enhanced because of the pictures taken by Amruta Mokal

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