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Bring out the beast in you

Baskaran Adhiban says his game at Wijk aan Zee changed when he started looking at opponents without respect

Bring out the beast in you
Baskaran Adhiban


Baskaran Adhiban was the toast of the Tata Steel tournament for the kind of chess he played in Wijk aan Zee. From an ordinary first five games, Adhiban climbed the ladder with an incredible surge in the next seven rounds and finally finished third behind Wesley So and Magnus Carlsen. 

The 24-year-old Chennai lad reckons it was all about unleashing the beast in you.” If you bring out the beast within you even the strongest can stumble and it is possible to beat them!,” said Adhiban when asked what changed his mindset after the dull start. One by one, Adhiban started beating renowned Grandmasters. Sergey Karjakin fell first and then Wojtasek, Andreikin and in the last round, Richard Rapport. 

“I started to realise that the tempo was on my side, everything I was trying was working perfectly. I gave it everything I got and more in the final sprint, because I really wanted to make it a debut which no one will forget. And I am happy with what I have achieved in those seven games and the best thing was that I could have scored even more points in the last seven rounds,” recounted Adhiban. 

Yes, more number of points and what better than his missed opportunity against World champion Magnus Carlsen. Even the final result of a shared third place that he got would have made former World champion Viswanathan Anand proud. 

Back in Chennai, Adhiban spoke about Wijk aan Zee, his games and opponents. 

Talk about your mindset when you were down in the dumps 

I was pretty excited to play in such a strong field and in the first four rounds, the mistake I made was that I gave too much respect for my opponents and their ratings. After round four, I realised my mistake and started to treat the tournament in a different way. I trusted my calculation and judgment not my opponent’s. When I went to the round I had two things on my mind, To give my best and to beat my opponent. During the game, I used to have some fruits like banana, apple and some energy drink. The atmosphere was fantastic, just playing in the same event and against my idols was a great feeling and I will be waiting for my next chance like this.

Then came Karjakin. Relive the game

The game against Karjakin has changed my life. I really wanted to win, because I wanted to change the tempo of the event and I knew one win was all I needed to do it. Hence I was very inspired to get him out of his comfort zone and I tried a line for the first time in my life and it worked brilliantly. I think I got back my courage and I was ready to fight with these guys and that changed the way the event went for me and I felt like a unstoppable force. 

You lost to Harikrishna. How did he interact with you? 

I think he is really awesome. He has been at the top level for some time and he has been sharing his experiences and his rise to the top for which I am very grateful. Also he told me to treat this event like any other and not to be afraid of these top players. 

What did you do on your off days? 

On the rest day I was spending a lot of time on the preparation for the next game but also I went out for walks with my dad and my friend who was helping me there. The main thing was to keep a fresh mind and I was able to do it. Wijk aan Zee was the home turf of Viswanathan Anand for many years, he has won it the most number of times (a record which is shared with World No.1 Magnus Carlsen), There will always be talk about Anand in Wijk aan Zee and they really want him to play there and hopefully next year it might happen. 

What are your goals for this year?  

I managed to create a buzz with my opening choices but the most important point was that, somehow it worked so well against the strongest in the field. Some were random and some were done before but it was based on inspired decisions and that I feel was the key ingredient for its success. 

I am increasing around 28 points bringing my current rating to 2682 so it feels pretty good. I want to improve my game since I missed many chances in this event and then I need to prepare myself for the Asian Continental where I get another shot at the World Cup qualification. Next I will play in the Aeroflot Open in February, India-China Summit in March. 

Any help during the Tata event? 

I would like to express my thanks to my European trainer Ubilava whose great experience has benefited me a lot and my Indian trainer with whom I have been working from 2007 and our training in all areas of the field. I was accompanied by my dad and my friend Vishnu Prasanna to Wijk aan zee and they provided me with great support during the event.

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