CHENNAI: Former world champion Vladmir Kramnik had said that India is the chess capital of the world. He backed his compliment by saying that not only does India produce Grandmasters at regular intervals, but the country also has some good chess coaches and trainers.
India's first IM Manuel Aaron was a good coach and trainer who had coached the likes of Viswanathan Anand in his formative years. Grandmaster RB Ramesh took up coaching to a different level. Many of his pupils have become GMs.
Now, GM Vishnu Prasanna is excelling in the role of player-cum-coach. Recently his ward Luke Leon Mendonca became a GM. He also helped his protege D Gukesh become the second youngest GM in the world.
"There was an opportunity for Leon to play after being stuck in Europe. He was already strong enough to become a GM. We did not have a specific time frame but was confident he would complete the norms,'' said Prasanna, on Leon becoming a GM in three months.
Leon showed a lot of character and mental strength by playing tournaments while being stranded in Europe. "Leon is very imaginative. He has already played many tactical and imaginative games that stood out in his triumph. Being imaginative is his strength,'' noted Prasanna.
Gukesh does not use chess engines for preparation. Is it not a disadvantage when even top players are using it? "Gukesh is looking forward to entering the top 100 in the world once normal tournaments resume. At this level, not using engines is not a deterrent. We will start using in the future,'' informed Prasanna.
Prasanna, who at one time had a peak elo rating 2543, has a unique way to motivate and coach his students. "During these Covid times, it is slightly difficult to motivate. It is something everyone has to deal with now. I just find a way to keep them engaged. I just try to understand the individual and recommend
things based on his/her interests,'' explained Prasanna.
Prasanna has also worked as a trainer for Surya Sekhar Ganguly. "Working with Surya was different and interesting as he was already a strong player. It gave me insights into what such strong players see and also what they miss,'' he revealed.
Prasanna believes that coaching young talents is rewarding and insisted that he has no specific targets as a player. "Coaching young talents is mostly rewarding as they have a keen interest in chess and it's easy to bring out the best in them. As a player, I don't have any specific goals. At the moment, especially post Covid, I will continue to play though and try to improve my rating and maybe focus a bit more on rapid chess,'' he insisted, saying that he started his YouTube channel during the pandemic but not sure if he would continue if the chess schedule becomes busy.