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Nigel looking to make short work of rivals

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By Staff Reporter in Calcutta
  • Published 1.09.09

Calcutta: By his own admission, Grandmaster Nigel Short has not been doing anything special to be back in the 2700-plus Elo ratings. “It’s just that I am winning more matches, making less mistakes,” he says.

“I am playing a lot quicker. Yeah, maybe… there’s an advantage in playing quicker. You don’t get into the time-control trouble where players in a hurry tend to make blunders,” he adds as an afterthought.

In the city to participate in the 4th Kolkata Open Grandmaster Chess tournament, the 44-year-old Briton is one of the two Grandmasters in the event who have an Elo rating of over 2700 — Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan being the other one.

Talking on Monday evening at the Hotel Hindusthan International, here, Short agreed he has never played in such an open tournament before. “I don’t think I have seen such a competitive field anywhere. It’s a crazy feeling you can say.”

Short, however, was not ready to consider himself as a favourite for the title. “It’s a game. Today you can be very good and, then, next day you stumble. So, it will be foolish to brand anyone as favourite. Whoever plays well over the next 10 days will take home the winner’s purse,” he says.

This, for the record, is Short’s second visit to the city, the last time being for the Goodricke Chess Meet in the late 90s.

The youngest Grandmaster of his time — he earned the norm in 1984 when he was just 19 — Short says India’s chess scene has vastly improved over the last three decades mainly due to the success of Viswanathan Anand.

“Anand is the force behind the resurgence of chess in this country. That’s the reason why you have so many young Grandmasters. Sponsors, guidance and the advantage of participating in more tournaments has made chess such a big game here,” Short said.

Short’s campaign at the World Chess Championship, in 1993, proved to be a dud as he found Garry Kasparaov too hot to handle. Short argued that that loss was not debilitating but he admits it took a toll on him. “I just went on a vacation to Australia and did not see the chess board for some time.”

A Grandmaster with a penchant for doing reviews and writing books on chess, Short’s review of Vladimir Nabokov’s The Luzhin Defence was memorable.

The novel’s central character Aleksandr Ivanovich Luzhin becomes a recluse as he persues the 64-square game but Short says it is just a work of fiction.

“I haven’t seen any chess player who finds it difficult to tie his shoelaces. At least I never had any problem,” he breaks into a loud laughter.

Short is also an avid follower of cricket; he loathes football. “This Ashes was weird, isn’t it? Australia scored over 6 runs per wicket more than England. Yet they finished losers. Just think how well England had to play to win the series.”

As the conversation was winding down, Short suddenly enquired about the one place he should visit in the city. “Victoria Memorial? I’ll try. Definitely.”