I have interviewed a recent winner of the Millionaire Chess U2000 section. Mr. Sushrutha Reddy claimed the first prize of the section and took home an impressive amount of cash, namely $40,000. Not many chess players (even Grandmasters) can tell you that they have ever won that much at a single event. How did he do it? How can you do it? That’s the main questions Mr. Sushrutha has kindly answered for us - Editor.
I have learned to play chess at the age of 4. Like any other board game, my aunt taught me chess. Until the age of 12, I would only take the board and play with my friends. One fine day, I read in the papers that there is a Chess Tournament being conducted. From then on, I became a Tournament player! The year was 1992.
We hardly had any chess coaches in Bangalore those days. Therefore, my progress as a chess player was not great during my teens. I only improved due to experience. The first time I finished in a top list was in 1998 (in Under 18 Category), 6 years after I started playing competitively!
I used to have a group of friends and all of us would meet up at my house to play tournaments on Sundays. This went on from 1998 till at least 2004 on a regular basis! As I look back, I feel these very guys formed my backbone for chess today. Later, I became a tournament director. When you become a tournament director, your confidence level improve and I must say that the same happened to me.
It was in January of 2005 that I founded the Innovators Chess Academy with my friends – Durgesh, Karthik Shetty, Gavi Siddayya, Deepak Payeng and Sanjay Sindhia. The Academy is primarily involved in training Chess in Schools in Bangalore and organizing Chess Tournaments. In short, we are promoting Chess at the grass root levels in Bangalore.
It was in the year 2005 when I achieved my FIDE Rating – 2047. Most of my friends, even to this day, say that the luck factor plays a huge role in my games. However, I attribute it to my self-belief to win even when the chips are down.
I have won 3 FIDE Rated Tournaments thus far, one in 2011 and 2 this year. This is apart from my win at Millionaire Chess. I have finished in top ten on numerous occasions.
All said and done, my improvement in Chess is due to my experience and not any hard work.
1. How do you prepare for a major chess tournament such Millionaire Chess Open? What did you focus on mostly? What was helpful and what wasn’t? Did you use a computer software in your preparation?
Answer: To be honest, I didn’t prepare a bit. I have never prepared for any of my tournaments thus far. Maybe that’s the reason I currently have a FIDE Rating of 1710. At home in India, I am mostly involved in promoting Chess in Schools. I teach chess at 4 Schools and therefore I do not find time to prepare for myself.
Furthermore, I would like to add that the last 30 days preceding to this Event was taken for planning and organizing our own FIDE Rating Tournament, called the 2nd ICA Open. So, just a couple of days before I landed in U.S., I was busy organizing my own tournament!
2. Did you do any specific opening preparation against your opponents, or you improvise? Did you do any research on the opponents, for example studying their games, openings, etc.?
Answer: There is a famous Bruce Lee quote. I am modifying it and using it the way I applied it in the Tournament. Here it goes:
I believe I reach a maturity in my art when the stakes are high and I possess a formless form, like ice dissolving in water and when I have no form, I can be all forms and when I have no style, I can fit in with any style! - The secret to winning Millionaire Chess Under 2000 Chess Tournament!
To answer your question, I have never done any opening preparation against any of my opponents. No research done on any of my opponents either!
3. Do you have a chess training routine, for example solving tactics, studying openings, learning fundamental endgames, etc.? What would you suggest to players preparing for a major open tournament?
Answer: The only routine I have in India is to coach my students. I start coaching at 8 in the morning and it goes on till about 4 pm. Thereafter, I spend time with students, one on one until about 8 pm. I teach at 2 different schools every day.
For players who want to improve at chess and win Open Tournaments, I strongly suggest getting in touch with a Grand Master and seeking their advice. Chess to me is the exercise of the mind and if you are not regularly training over the board, then chances are that you are going to get rusty!
4. How much time do you spend on chess weekly?
Answer: I don’t spend time on chess to improve myself. However, to answer your question, I spend at least 60 hours a week on chess! All these hours spent are for my students.
I am also in charge of conducting Monthly Chess Tournaments through our Academy in Bangalore. When Chess is your profession, then your life is filled with various positions on the Board!
5. What about the psychological factor? Did it play an important role in the competition?
Answer: To me, it played a huge role! I am a confident man and I play by the merits of the position. Many of the players were overcome by pressure due to the situation they were in. They were playing for high stakes, something that they never had done before! For example, in an unclear position, a confident man will go ahead and sacrifice (again based on the merits of the position) whereas the others will merely allow the opportunity to pass by!
Furthermore, on numerous occasions earlier, I had buckled under pressure in several games due to the tense nature of the positions. This time, I had told myself to hold my grip over the game no matter how tense the position is and not let go of it! The challenge was to stay calm. And of course, I kept getting tense and I kept walking around to get rid of the tension! During the later stages of the Tournament, I would say to myself often, “do not play a move in tension!”
Usually, one would see me having much more time than my opponents. However, due to the fact that I decided not to make any move while in tension, I would have far less time than that of my opponent’s. I knew that I can hold my own very well if I ever get to the last 5 minutes of the game considering the fact that by nature, I am a speed chess player!
Chess to me is 90% psychology and 10% hard work (not talent, a talent is a product of hard work). I see kids out there being scared of their opponents. How do we make them realize that this fear takes away 50% of their ability over the board? I have, especially in the last ten years, played chess in complete freedom, like birds with the wings! There are people who would have invested a lot and come under pressure to such an extent that if they do not perform well, they have to quit! Parents who are not financially well off, take loans to further the progress of their child in chess and when results don’t go their way, they end up putting more pressure on the child!
Thankfully, I have not come under any such pressure because to me, every experience itself elevates you to a higher level and you become richer with experience! I am having an experience of 22 years now! If you checkout my FIDE Profile, you will see that I have played nearly 900 games!
When you play so much, you are bound to experience different factors of psychology that ultimately culminates in a confident personality! Therefore, this very experience coupled with my confidence factor made me win the Under 2000 Section of the Millionaire Chess Tournament.
6. What was the biggest surprise and the biggest disappointment of the event?
Answer: The biggest surprise of the Event was the prize money itself! The biggest disappointment of the Event was the way pairings was published online. With the exception of the Open Category, all the rest of the pairings were published on the Millionaire Chess website. And it was amateurish!
For example, the number of points scored was not displayed in the pairings. You expect all names under White and Black to be in order and it was not so. I wish all the pairings were published in a professional manner on the Chess Results website.
Also, the Millionaire Chess website needs improvement
7. A single most valuable advice you can give to a chess player that will help him to play on a big chess tournament such as this one?
Answer: Stay confident! Don’t get pressure to get the better of you. Play with complete freedom of your mind and play by the merits of the position!
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