The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘More to chess than being GM’
- Sandipan Chanda would like to remain loyal to his city roots

Calcutta: Calcutta’s third Grandmaster is back home. Grandmaster-elect so far, but it is just a matter of a wait till this title for Sandipan Chanda is made official by Fide. And just a matter of time, as Chanda said, that he can put this GM hype behind him and get down to a bit of serious chess.

Not that he has been playing triflings so far, but he believes he has much more in him to offer and has chalked a path that could finally see him emerge as a serious professional very much in the mould of Viswanathan Anand.

Chanda, who returned to Mumbai Sunday midnight, spent the night at the airport and flew into the city this morning, said he was happy when he got a good start at the Benasque Open in Spain where he earned his third norm. “It’s always difficult to do much in a Swiss Open format if you don’t start well, and when I was five from five I was pretty much sure this will be the meet.” A two-year wait was, finally, worth it.

The 20-year-old looks sure-footed and is said to be downright practical. Like, when he says: “Yes, when I refuse a draw I’d like to believe that it was a practical and not an emotional decision.” That, from a player known for aggressive methods, is expected, almost, except, when he says with a smile that he has probably to still deal with his “emotions.”

Chanda has never had a very cut and dry approach to chess. His coach Shyamal Bhattacharya says he has seen Chanda put in his own innovations into chess book games. “He creates, that’s the good part. He was fond of the King’s Indian with black once, he doesn’t use it any more, he has the will to go and win, he has the confidence.”

The Telegraph Schools Chess Championship find (GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly is another), and a student at the Goodricke Chess academy and a member of the Alekhine Chess Club, Chanda wants to remain loyal to his roots. “Yes, professionalism, is okay, but I’d like to remain Calcutta-based. I’d be out for a few months a year, but I’ll be back,” said the ONGC-sponsored Chanda.

He said he had hopes that Neelotpal Das and Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury, also The Telegraph Schools’ Chess finds, were inline for the GM title soon.

What has he seen during his trips that he would like to be repeated here' “Look, the club is good, the equipment and books are good (he gets his Fritz 8 and his Deep Junior 7 software here as well) but maybe I’d like to play with more and stronger players now. GM Krishnan Sasikiran is surely the strongest resident in India, but I don’t get to play or interact with him too often. I constantly need to interact with players above 2500 elo rating (wants to quickly regain this rating)… In India a Grandmaster is a very big thing, sure, but having been around, I saw there’s more to life and surely more to chess than just being a GM.”

So he has plans, cards that he holds close to his heart. For starters, he goes to an international meet starting in Abu Dhabi August 16. “It’s a meet, say, as strong as the Goodricke Open was (‘it’s a meet I miss’)…” Then, on September 27, another such meet in Isle of Man. He needs to clear these from his sponsors, though.

“I have ambitions,” he says quietly. In between, he wants to complete his class XII exams. He studies in an open school, with exams twice a year. He wants to choose one. But that part is a little difficult. “One has to sacrifice one aspect,” says his clear mind. Surely, with nearly 7-10 hours of chess study and practice a day, the priorities get sorted automatically.

First, of course, a well-deserved rest. And, yes, he has read about East Bengal’s victory. He says he’s happy and proud as an Indian. There was a bouquet from the club for him…

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