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Sethuraman on his World Cup 2015 journey

by Sagar Shah - 20/09/2015

Sethuraman speaks about his journey at the World Cup 2015, how he fought with the best players of the world on equal terms, how he learnt a lot of things which will be useful for him in the future and what are his future plans. An exclusive interview with ChessBase India by the top Indian performer at the World Cup 2015.

An exclusive interview with India's prime performer at the event

SS: What happened in the first game of the match with Mamedyarov? Did you expect this variation in Panov Botvinnik or it came as a surprise? Can you tell us about this game in some detail.

Sethu: I had looked at this variation long back. Before the game, I didn't check it too deeply. Messed up with some moves in the opening. My opponent got a good initiative but I kept on defending and eventually I created good chances to hold the position, only to falter between 34-40 moves. My move with 34...Be5 in the endgame was a blunder. In fact, I noticed his Nd8+ and the consequences after that while playing 31...Bf6 but always thought that when he plays 36.Nc6 attacking the rook and bishop I had this trick of 36... Rxb2+ 37.Rb2 Bb2 38 Kb2 Kf5 and then I can go and take the h2 pawn. So I played 34... Be5 immediately without thinking in order to save time, since I was running low on time. Later after playing out the move I realized that he can come with his knight to f3. Instead 36...Be5 or 36...Rh4 would have held the game which I spotted immediately after playing Be5. Often You find the right move immediately after the blunder by then it was too late!

SS: After you lost the first game, with what mindset did you go to the second game against Mamedyarov?

Sethu: For the second game it was difficult for me which opening to choose. I was thinking about 1.e4 but then my opponent plays the Petroff and the Berlin, two rock solid openings and against 1.d4 he plays the Nimzo-Indian. So then I was looking at his games against 1.c4. He had a pretty bad score in recent times and I had some ideas against some of the systems he plays. I know this move 4...Nd4 is very solid and since he had not played a single game in this system I was pretty confident that he will not enter this line. But in fact, he played it and I didn't get anything out of the opening. There were only a few precise moves he needed to make which were not that hard and the game ended in a draw.

SS: How was your experience at the World Cup 2015?

Sethu: This was my first time participation in the World Cup and it went pretty well for me. I am also glad that I increased my rating and am now in the top 100 of the world rankings.

SS: What are the lessons that you take back from this event?

Sethu: From this event, first of all, I gained experience how to handle the matches since usually you get to play in a swiss event or round robin. You hardly get to play matches. 
Apart from that I learned a lot of things which I will keep it to myself and I am pretty confident that in the coming two years, that is for the next World Cup, I will work harder and will fight for the top places.

SS: You were definitely the Indian of the tournament. What are your future plans now? What do you play next?

Sethu: I thank everyone for their touching messages and the immense support during these days. I will be participating in a series of three strong events: First in Baku Open which starts in ten more days followed by World Rapid and Blitz in Berlin and Corisca Rapid in Bastia, France. Eagerly looking forward to these top level events.

SS: Wonderful! ChessBase India will definitely cover those events where you will be playing! And a very tough question - Who do you think will win this World Cup?

Sethu: Yeah a very tough question indeed! The top 16 are all strong players and since, in the most of the matches, the tiebreak matches decide, the one who has the better nerves and good control at that particular point will have better chances. I would be happy to see a new player winning it rather than let's say Kramnik, Topalov or Caruana. So I would rooting for Ding Liren!

SS: Thanks a lot Sethu for these detailed and candid answers and also taking out time immediately after your game. Your fans in India as well as all over the world thank you for entertaining them and wish you the best in your next three events!