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When Anand's trainer Grzegorz Gajewski trained some youngsters in India

by Sagar Shah - 31/03/2019

When you have talented students in your academy, what do you do? You should try and bring some of the best trainers in the world to work with those talents to further enhance their abilities. This is exactly what T Nagar Chess Academy in Chennai did. From 12th to 25th of February they invited the trainer/second of Vishy Anand - Grzegorz Gajewski to work with some of their best talents. After the camp ended we contacted Gajewski to know about his experience of visiting India, working with the students, and trying out Indian food. We also get to know about how Gajewski's work with Anand began, what are Anand's best qualities according to Gajewski, and what are his future plans. 

Gajewski and Anand having dinner together | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Gajewski and Anand preparing together | Photo: V. Saravanan

Gajewski and Anand going to the tournament hall together! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

From the above three pictures you can understand what a close working relation is shared by the five-time World Champion Vishy Anand and his Polish trainer/second Grzegorz Gajewski. One of the reasons for Anand's sustenance at the very top in the world of chess at the age of 49 is Gajewski. The Polish grandmaster works hard around the clock to ensure that no top player is able to surprise Vishy in the opening. Naturally, with such work comes an unparalleled knowledge and skill which only a handful of people can boast off in the world of chess. When Vishy was in Pune for the ChampCoach camp, Gajewski was in Chennai working with some of the talented kids of TNagar Chess Academy. After the camp ended we caught up with Grzegorz for an interview to know more about his Indian experience.

Interview with Grzegorz Gajewski on his trip to India

Sagar Shah (SS): Hi Grzegorz, how did you decide to come to India?

Grzegorz Gajewski (GG): The idea came up during the Sinqufield Cup 2018 in St. Louis. Both Saravanan and me were there and he asked whether I would be interested in coming to Chennai. Since I've never been to India I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to catch up.

 

SS: Tell us about your camp with the students of TNagar academy. How was it?

One of the main aims of getting Gajewski to Chennai was for TNagar chess academy's top player IM Arjun Kalyan to add new spikes to his game

GG: It was great! We actually worked quite a lot - our time frames were set by breakfast and dinner. I find it very comforting that in the era of smartphones and video games there are still kids that are willing to play chess all day!

 

SS: What were the topics that you taught the students?

GG: There were usual topics like game analysis, openings or endgames. My main goal was to - working on those typical things - show each one of my students, which qualities distinguish him, young aspiring player, from a player he would like to become.

Gajewski with (left to right): R. Rathneesh, Ajay Karthikeyan, Mrithyun Jay, Sarvesh Kumar and Rohit Kalyan (brother of Arjun Kalyan),

SS: Were there some talents who caught your attention?

GG: Each one of them - in his own way.

The kids didn't give Gajewski an easy time!

SS: Can you share one memorable chess position from the camp with us?

GG: Can I share two? Here's the first one:

Carlsen vs Harikrishna, World Blitz Championships 2014

White to play. What would you do here?

Solution:

Second position: One day Saravanan invited me and some other friends, who were also strong chess players for dinner. Once our stomachs were satisfied we went to see his famous chess library. At some point he pulled out one of his books - San Luis 2005 by Alik Gershon and Igor Nor. He asked me what I thought of it. I quickly found my favourite position from that book, showed it to others, and asked what was played in the game. I knew that the answer to that question was far from obvious but these guys, really strong players (mostly IMs), tried almost every legal move in the position and still couldn't find the right one! If in the book there is at least one game, one move even, that can impress you, influence you as much as the below example influenced me, that book is worth reading.

Michael Adams vs Peter Svilder, San Luis 2005

Can you guess what Black played here? Mind you, you have to try to find the weird move that Svidler played. Try not to look it up in the database!

SS: Did you meet Vishy Anand in Chennai?

GG: Of course! Aruna and him took me for a lunch to an outstanding restaurant serving South-Indian cuisine and that was a really great experience!

 

SS: We all would like to thank you for your wonderful services as the second of Anand which has helped him to stay at such a top level in spite of his advancing age. Can you tell us how your association with him began?

GG: Thank you! As Anand likes to joke, I've worked for him almost twice as long as I think I have. Everything thanks to Radek Wojtaszek - I've been his co-worker and then second for many years and back then Radek was Anand's second. The flow of information was quite natural and even though it came to me as a positive shock - inviting me to the team for 2014 Sochi match, it was probably quite natural from Anand's perspective.

Like a shadow! | Photo: Austin Fuller

SS: What are the qualities of Anand that you have learnt over the years working with him?

GG: As funny as it might sound to you (it is after all what, as a second, I am supposed to be good at it), I improved my analytical skills. I know that what I prepare will be played by a human chess player not by Stockfish or Komodo so I try to anticipate it. I used to forget that part. Besides, I've gained an awful lot of knowledge. 

SS: When we see you in tournaments we see some excellent games from you. At the same time you are a wonderful second/trainer. What do you prefer more? And what do you think you are better at? 

GG: Thank you again! Actually I've noticed that recently I see more and more of excellent games from my opponents rather than myself! (laughs) I love playing but I also enjoy being a second. As for the second question I believe the answer to that is quite obvious. As a player I have simply too many flaws. Working hard and playing a lot I could maybe reach 2700 level for a year or two but getting there would not fulfill my ambitions - only awaken them. As a second - you'd have to ask my boss, but I'd like to believe that being with him for more that four years is a good sign!

 

[Ed - Here's one of Gajewski's greatest achievements on the chess board. An interesting opening novelty, resolute middlegame play and a very pretty finish.]

SS: Would you like to come to India again on such training assignments? and Did you enjoy the Indian food?

GG: Of course! If my schedule won't stop me. About the food - being able to finally try Indian food in India only reassured me that it is one of my favourite cuisines and Rasam was just spectacular!

A small outing in Mahabalipuram! | Photo: Saravanan

T Nagar Chess Academy - taking care of their talents

By IM V. Saravanan

AL Kasi with the famous Ukrainian trainer Aleksandr Goloshchapov

The T Nagar Chess Academy was founded by A.L.Kasi more than 20 years ago, and has grown to be one of the most primary chess coaching centres of Chennai. With three branches at T.Nagar, K.K.Nagar and Anna Nagar, it has hundreds of students learning the game, from grassroots to the master level. The K.K.Nagar branch is the biggest, with a floor space of about 2000 square feet spread over 3 floors, with complete classrooms equipped with chess equipments, projector, digital screen etc. Kasi has a passion for coaching and determination to produce champions, which has seen the academy produce about five national champions and two Asian champions in the last few years. There have been many players who are Masters today, who began their chess careers tutored at the academy. Their latest star is Arjun Kalyan, who has completed his International Master title and is on the verge of becoming a Grandmaster.

 

Apart from Kasi, Srinivasa Rangan is the other prominent coach of the institution, who focuses on the T.Nagar branch. Pandurangan Jaikar is another well known coach of the academy. In the last few years, looking at the number of super talents coming up at the academy as a result of their work with the grassroots talents, the T.Nagar chess academy decided to involve International Masters and Grandmasters to be part of their training and practice at the academy. Many of the weekends, internal tournaments are conducted at the academy, where prominent Grandmasters and International Masters of Chennai participate regularly. Guest lecturers at the academy include Grandmaster Sundararajan Kidambi and International Masters V.Saravanan and R.Siddharth.

Gajewski with the two prominent trainers of T Nagar Chess Academy - Jaikar Pandurangan and Srinivasa Rangan

To elevate the training methods to the next level, the academy has been inviting prominent trainers of global standing in the last couple of years. Starting with Elizbar Ubilava and Aleksandr Golaschapov. Grzegorz Gajweski is the latest star trainer to visit Chennai to train the best of the students of the academy. The training sessions were conducted between 12th to 25th Feb 2019, at the quiet and serene atmosphere of Kalyan Hometel, a 3-Star facility in the outskirts of Chennai, thus suited for focused chess training. The coach and the students were lodged at the excellent facility for the whole duration, provided with a classy stay and food facilities and a great training hall. Gajewski being the current second of Vishy Anand, the aim of inviting him was obviously with an eye to train the best students of the academy to shine at the highest levels of chess. And to retain him as a mentor for the best of the students in the long run, thus ensuring continuity and class. What better way to train for the ultimate heights of chess than to invite someone who is involved with top chess on a daily basis?!

We are glad that Gajewski will come more often to India and many Indian talents will benefit from his knowledge and experience | Photo: Saravanan