Grand Master vs young master
Wednesday, 14 January 2015 – 6:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

It’s not everyday that Vishwanathan Anand plays chess with a seven-year-old. But when you have Dev Shah, winner of the World School Chess Championship in the U-7 category sitting in front of you, even five-time World Champion’s make an exception.

“Anand is my idol. I left all my studies to come here just to meet him. I practice in the evening but what better practice than to play a game with the legend,” said an ever smiling Shah.

In a hope to boost the morale of Indian athletes Sarita Devi and Jitu Rai at an event for the Olympic Gold Quest on Tuesday, little did Anand know that the break from chess would lead to a short blitz game between him and the young prodigy.

Meeting of both the Grand Master and the young master was dramatic. As Anand made his way to the exit after his interaction with the media, a boy approached him with paper in hand.

Not aware of Shah’s identity, Anand mistook the boy to be one of the many fans present. That’s when Shah took over the proceedings. Sitting next to Anand, he informed him about his achievements (As a five year old, he won two gold medals as well as a silver at the 2012 Asian Schools Chess Championship in New Delhi). That’s when Anand realised who the boy is. Shah then took out a list of questions for his idol to answer.

Shah’s first question meant business. “How do I improve on my opening game?”

Anand, who became India’s first Grandmaster at 18, replied that during his initial years he paid more attention to theory, which automatically led to an improvement in his opening and middle game.

Further questions on the classical game and his preparation for upcoming tournaments followed. Anand found the time Shah spends training to be a lot.

“Six hours is a lot for a seven-year-old. Chess does make people tense so, it’s important we don’t tire out. Don’t fine tune your game at such a young age. What is important is that you get as much physical exercise and fresh air as possible. Run as much as you can. Even I tend to go for a walk for relaxation. You don’t even need to follow any specific diet,” said Anand.

Shah couldn’t have asked for a better piece of advice. The student of Dhirubhai Ambani International School (Bandra-Kurla Complex) ran towards a bag that his mother held and pulled out a chess board from it and placed it on the nearby sofa before requesting Anand for a game in the blitz format.

With Shah playing in white, Anand took all but 30 moves in 30 seconds (Shah lasted a minute and 30 seconds) to win. But for the kid, this defeat is his most prized victory. “He was so fast,” said the awestruck Shah. “He was so nice to tell me the exact move where I went wrong in the start.”

However, the biggest piece of advice that Anand gave Shah was seen rather than spoken. “The first thing that I saw was the way that Anand sits. Back straight and upright. I tend to slouch and that’s what I tried to do when we spoke for that brief moment,” said Shah, who will be representing the country at the Asian Youth Chess Championship in June.


Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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