CHENNAI: Indian Grandmaster P Iniyan, who won the prestigious 48th Annual World Open online chess tournament recently, is thrilled at his unique achievement.
Hailing from Erode district of Tamil Nadu, the 18-year-old scored 7.5 points out of a possible nine with six victories and three draws to finish on top.
He cherishes defeating World No 2 Fabiano Caruana in blitz and is hoping to continue his good form in the coming tournaments.
How was it to win the World Open, one of the strongest chess tournaments?
I feel great. Going into it, I was not anticipating such a huge result. There were a lot of tough opponents. Around one-third of the participants were Grandmasters.
But halfway through the tournament, I knew I had a shot at finishing at the top. A string of good results in the last few rounds helped me seize the first place.
How was it to defeat higher-ranked players like Baadur Jobava and Samuel Sevian?
I’ve always admired Jobava. He has a very distinctive style of play and when I matched against him, I knew that the game will be tough.
I tried my best and I am delighted to win against him. Sam Sevian is a strong junior player. It was another tough game. But in this game, I was lucky to win, though I was constantly on the ropes. I was relieved when the game got over.
How difficult was it to play in the night because of the time difference between India and USA?
Very difficult. Even if I had travelled to America and was having jet lag, it wouldn’t have been this hard. Sportspersons have a strict regimen and a set sleeping time. It becomes part of the schedule and here, the routine was broken. So, it compounded to the problem.
Did you make any adjustments because of the odd playing hours?
Yes, I did. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to abruptly change my sleeping time — 10 pm to 6 am. It was exactly when my games were scheduled.
Hence, one week before the tournament commenced, I kept myself awake for as long as I could. I succeeded until 2 am. In the following days, the timings improved and eventually on the day the tournament started, I was able to be awake till 6 am.
What kind of influence does your coach have in your growth?
I have been training under K Visweswaran sir since I was nine years of age. He has had a colossal influence. He was the one who told me about this tournament. At first, I was apprehensive over playing in this time zone, but my coach told me to give it a shot.
My family too was supportive and helped me in this preparation. For instance, we compete for eight or more hours during the tournament and we need food in between. So my mom prepared food that would last for several hours before she went to sleep.
How was the experience of working with Vladimir Kramnik and Boris Gelfand?
It was wonderful. When I got a call about this potential camp with them, I was elated. They are legends and getting to learn from them is a huge opportunity. They shared a lot of insights into the game. I would also like to thank all my sponsors for the support.