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‘I have proved myself’
- Sandipan Chanda says he’s trying to improve openings

Calcutta: Experts say Sandipan Chanda is the unpredictable sort, who can humble stronger players and also lose to those not so noteworthy.

Temperament notwithstanding, the 20-year-old has completed three Grandmaster norms and it’s probably a matter of time before he becomes the ninth Indian to earn the title every chess player aspires for.

The city youngster had to wait for over two years to bag his third norm after getting the second at the Goodricke Open here in 2001. In between, there were some brilliant performances and also some inexplicable lows.

Corresponding with The Telegraph on Friday from the Czech Republic where he is playing in a tournament, Sandipan said he has proved a point by getting the third norm.

“I feel I have proved something which I was capable of. I knew I had to keep trying. The irritating thing was that I knew I could work harder, but was unable to do so,” he said about the long wait for the decisive third norm.

“I think I have been improving since 2000. In 2000 and also in 2001, I was not so strong. It was just that I was getting the results. Becoming a strong player, and playing well are not the same.

“For performing well in a particular tournament, many things should be in order, not only the chess strength. At the moment, if I can produce my best, I’ll be much better than what I was in 2000.”

Sandipan, who held the legendary Viktor Korchnoi to a draw at the Goodricke meet in 2000, said better opponents bring out the best in him.

“Normally I take a lot of risks. Probably that’s why I lose to lesser players. Also, I am more motivated while playing against stronger players. One has to be confident about oneself, to put in his best.”

He was confident in his own quiet way before leaving for the Benasque Open in Spain where he got the third norm. GM Dibyendu Barua revealed Sandipan had confided to him that he was expecting to clinch the third there.

“He said he had a feeling that he may not have to play the National B tournament again,” Barua said. National B is the qualification event for National A — the national championship proper. GMs qualify for the event automatically.

But Sandipan said he wasn’t very well prepared for the tournament in Spain. It was only after a strong start (five wins in the first five rounds of the nine-round event) that he started nurturing hopes of securing a norm.

Though pundits laud his aggressive instincts, they strongly feel Sandipan’s openings leave a lot to be desired. The player agrees.

“Opening is a point I am trying to improve on. I believe I didn’t face much problems with my openings in Benasque, and that was the secret behind my success. I also need to improve my strategic understanding.

“I want to play more and more in strong events and improve my rating. In five years’ time, I would like to see myself as a strong GM. Rating-wise, I don’t know exactly.”

Sandipan’s current Elo rating is 2469 and to be a GM one has to touch 2500.

Following a recent Fide rule revision, he should be awarded the GM title, since he had reached 2510 in October last year.

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