Mahabalipuram, Aug 4: Living up to the hype, the young India B Team has shown a lot of promise in the ongoing 44th Chess Olympiad 2022 being held here in Mahabalipuram. The team comprises young grandmasters like D Gukesh, B Adhiban, R Praggnnanandhaa, Nihal Sarin, and Raunak Sadhwani.
The team's captain and coach RB Ramesh - who has been a former player and a coach for the last two decades - has worked closely with three of the five players in this young side. Ramesh reckons the players are feeding off of each other's success and looking to take one game at a time in order to do well in the tournament.
In an exclusive chat with MyKhel, RB Ramesh shared his thoughts about the team, the impact of the Chess Olympiad on the country as a whole, and the bright future prospects of this young Indian team.
Here are the excerpts:
MyKhel: You are the coach of the India B men's team which has done exceedingly well in the tournament so far. What are your thoughts?
RB Ramesh: I am very happy to be given the responsibility of being the coach of the B Team where four out of five players are very young and three of the five are my personal students. We are not taking one game at a time and not letting the expectations of the others get into our minds. We need to keep doing well till the end of the tournament. All the young players are working very hard and they are all rapidly increasing their ratings as well. So it's a healthy competition between all these players and everybody is getting motivated by the other's performance. So these are good signs for Indian chess.
MK: What are your expectations from R Pragnnanandhaa - who defeated Magnus Carlsen earlier this year in a different format and Gukesh D - who is doing exceedingly well - in the competition?
RB Ramesh: So both, Praggnanandhaa and Gukesh D are doing exceptionally well for the past few months and I'm sure they will do the same in this tournament also. Praggnanandhaa has already beaten world champion, Magnus Carlsen, in Rapid online games and we are hoping he will be able to repeat the same in the traditional format. Prag's aim is to become a world champion eventually. So, I hope it will happen in the next 5 to 8 years. Gukesh has also been working very hard and improving his ratings.
MK: India won a gold medal in the last Chess Olympiad - which was held online and in a different format - in 2020. Do you think the experience of that event will be of any use to our players in the onboard format?
RB Ramesh: We are currently ranked No. 4 in the world as far as the top 10 rating average is concerned. So, we are steadily growing into a very strong Chess nation. We have these young players like Gukesh, Praggnanandhaa, Nihal Sarin, Raunak Sadhwani, Arjun Erigaisi. So these five are growing very fast day by day and I'm sure they will be our country's backbone for the next decade. If they are not overtaken by the next generation of youngsters (chuckles).
In online games, the stress is very less comparatively, the tension is also less and the time control is also shortened. So you can rely more on instincts than concrete analysis. But in a longer game, we need to sit and work the details without any mistakes. And also when you look at the opponent physically infront of you especially the opponent is very strong player it can be quite intimiditing. So the Olympiad going to test the real challenge of the players.
MK: How do players keep themselves relaxed and stress free when they are not playing and preparing for chess?
RB Ramesh: Yes. We are going to the gym and going swimming as a team, we have lunch and dinner together. That way we are keeping the team bonding and spirit of the players high. That is how the we are ensuring the players are relaxed.
MK: What according to you is going to be the impact of the Chess Olympiad on the country?
RB Ramesh: The Chess Olympiad has captured the imagination of the entire country. The buzz about the tournament is quite positive and everyone is eager to know about the sport and the sportspersons. Media has given fantastic support to this huge event. So everyone has played their role, so this will have a long-term impact on chess growth in India. Now, it's up to the players to take it to the next level. Also, when we play Olympiad overseas, we get to send only one team but being the host nation we've got the opportunity to field six. This means, more players are getting a chance to participate in the mega event and gain the experience. I think this will make a very big impact on Indian Chess.
MK: You yourself have been a coach for quite some time. How has been this journey for you?
RB Ramesh: I enjoy being a coach and I have worked with many players in the last two decades. It has been very humbling experience to work with so many talented players and I am really happy to play a small role in producing champions for our country.