The simultaneous chess exhibition in Belgrade was an excellent occasion to pose a couple of questions to Indian Grandmaster Harikrishna Pentala, the current 2nd player of India and the 23rd player in the World.
Chessdom: Mr Harikrishna, thank you for kindly accepting the interview. You are spending some time in Belgrade, what are your impressions?
Harikrishna: You are welcome. I experienced the local cuisine and visited few places, I had nice time during my stay in Belgrade. I also met many nice people.
Chessdom: Your simul at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering lasted for five hours. Did you expect such a strong resistance? What is your general attitude towards such promotional events?
Harikrishna: Honestly I did not expect such strong resistance! I knew that Serbia has strong chess culture. But I expected to complete the simul in 3 or 3,5 hours!!
I had couple of interesting games and there was only one game which I was in real danger of losing. However Ii liquidated into known drawn position in Rook endgame!
I believe that top players are responsible for not only to play good games but also should take part in promotional events like simul, lectures and so on. Even though I have busy schedule I take my time for promotion of chess through simul.
Chessdom: The Indian national team has achieved historic success by winning the bronze medal at the Chess Olympiad in Tromso, even without Anand and yourself in attendance. How do you comment on that?
Harikrishna: I think it was extraordinary result for Indian team. Full credit goes to all Indian team members for creating history of winning a medal in Olympiad.
The best Indian team could achieve with Anand and me was 6th place in Calvia! We played well back then but every round we faced top team and finished 6th.
This time pairings favored us and solid performance by the top boards was crucial in winning Bronze Medal. Sethuraman was the surprise of the event. Negi and Sasikiran are experienced players and won the crucial games when it mattered!
Chessdom: The World Championship Match Carlsen-Anand is starting next week in Sochi. What are your expectations?
Harikrishna: The World Championship Match is going to be very interesting!! Anand has won Candidates Tournament and Bilbao this year. He has been playing his natural chess without any pressure. I think after Chennai he is playing freely and this can be seen in results.
Chessdom: India is nurturing many young talents and your players are regularly winning the greatest number of medals at the international youth events. How do you see the development of chess in the upcoming years?
Harikrishna: India has lot of talented juniors and is doing extremely well at World, Asian youth events. In fact India has been doing well from last couple of years.
However time has come to concentrate on creating tournaments for these junior players from 2500 to reach 2650. Even though India wins most of the medals at youth events, only 3 players are in top 100. So that is area of concern and I hope more Indians will enter top 100 in coming years.
Chessdom: What is your tournament schedule in the future months?
Harikrishna: I have some league games. I also have a rapid event in India. My next major event will be Qatar Open followed by Gibraltar Festival.
Chessdom: Thank you very much and good luck.
Nadezda Stojanovic assisted with this interview