I still have a lot to learn, says Surya (Interview)

January 4th, 2009 - 3:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Jan 4 (IANS) Surya Sekhar Ganguly may have warmed the hearts of the country’s chess followers with an unprecedented sixth back-to-back national A title last month, but the Kolkata-based Grand Master still considers himself a learner.”I’ve to concentrate on becoming a better player. I’ve to increase my strength in the game. I’ve to learn a lot,” the 25-year-old chess star told IANS in an interview, when asked about his target for 2009.

Ganguly, who has an ELO rating of 2614, said he was not that bothered with his rating. “What I am more focussed on is improving my performance. The effort that I put in should be satisfying”.

However, Ganguly is happy with the way he shaped up in 2008.

“The year 2008 has gone very well, though my rating has not increased much. I became national champion twice. In Australia, I won one tournament, and came second in another.

“At one point of time my rating had climbed to 2631. But then I played the next four tournaments in the US and Canada. I did well in the US, but got very tired. Mentally and physically I was exhausted. So, Canada turned out to be a disaster, and my rating went down by 30 points,” Ganguly said.

However, for Ganguly the most memorable event of the year is the time he spent assisting Viswanathan Anand successfully defend the world championship title against Russian Vladimir Kramnik in Germany last October.

“The biggest experience in 2008 was working with Anand as one of his seconds. It was very enriching,” he said.

Asked how his game has benefited from the association with Anand, Ganguly replied: “Firstly, my knowledge of the opening, so vital in chess, has improved considerably. I also got an idea about how the players at the highest level prepare for the toughest of battles, and the various strategies they adopt”.

“I also saw from close quarters the discipline and dedication these players need to have,” he said.

But now Ganguly is focussing on the Parshwanath international chess tournament to be held in Delhi from Jan 10-20.

“Then, I will leave for the Gibraltar Open tourney that begins from Jan 27. It will be followed by the European Club Cup and the Spanish league, though the dates are yet to be finalised,” said the Grand Master.

Ganguly would represent Spanish club Solvay in the European Club Cup. Solvay, with Ganguly and two other Indians Parimarjan Negi and P Harikrishna in its ranks, made the cut for the European Club Cup by finishing third in the Spanish league in 2008. The first three teams from a country are allowed to participate in the European event.

Besides, the local boy would play a tournament in Canada in July.

Asked whether he had plans to set up a second base in Europe, like Anand, Ganguly said

“That will definitely help. There are several back-to-back tournaments between which there are only 6-7 days’ gap. If I have a base in Europe, then I won’t have to return to India every time.

“But for this, I have to perform very well,” he added.

Ganguly was all smiles about his superlative successes at the national A. “Winning any tournament gives you lot of satisfaction. But yes, the feelings are more intense if the tourney is such a top notch one. And also it shows that I have maintained some sort of consistency over the years”.

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