If you are a parent with two kids and one of them is going through tremendous success while the other is just downright depressed? What do you do? Very delicate aint it? I guess only a parent will be able to answer this, but I feel I am in a similar situation here in Puerto Madryn, Argentina. While Soumya Swaminathan is eyening for a gold medal with her half a point lead with 3 more rounds to go, some other players are having their worst nightmares realized :) :(
Soumya Swaminathan, a very studious and hard working girl from Pune is having a wonderful tournament here. After her third round defeat against Yilduz Betul from Turkey, it has been no looking back for this young girl with a big smile. With her thorough opening preparation and positional understanding she has outclassed all her rivals here, but however the tournament is not yet over and we are sitting here with our fingers crossed as we watch the 11th round games that just got underway.
When the game is on, it is all about focus, focus and more focus for Soumya. In more than one occasion she did not even know what opening was played in the next board!
Kiran Manisha Mohanty is trailing Soumya with 6.5 points and maintains very good chances for a medal. Padmini Rout, the charm of the whole team here suffered 3 straight losses to fall back from the sole lead which she held after round 6. The top seed Mary An Gomes has still not been able to find her ground as she hangs around with 5 points and Harini Sankaran had a few missed opportunities to stand at 4.5 points.
Padmini the charm with the dedicated Indiam Women's team Coach Mrunalini. Mrunal as she is called by the players here has been sitting through the whole 5 hrs each game in the tournament hall even though the organizers do not allow non players to enter the playing area. It is difficult to see all the games from outside.
Before I go on with the performance and the results of our other players, let me talk about the general things that we have been upto here. After 7 rounds we had the first rest day. Padmini along with her parents and Kiran decided to take a day long excursion to check out the whales, sea lions, penguins and what not. For the rest of the team the whole day tour felt a little too tiring. So we decided to take a two hour whale watching tour in the morning. Well, it was our lucky day! we got to see the tiny fins of the whales from about 200 meters distance :) The worst part was that we found out the next day that there were Scuba diving places around the area that offered one day activities! Anyways after a whole morning of whale fin watching, we returned back to the hotel just to sit back and relax the rest of the day without moving an inch out of the hotel. For a brief moment I thought I could get the Indian team to play Soccer that was arranged by the tournament organizers. Boy! What was I thinking? Like Russel Peters (A Canadian born Indian stand up comedian) says in one of his speech about how Indian's would make bad slaves, “Do I look like physically ready to do hard labor? Give us a calculator we will do your taxes man!” Check this speech out, it is pretty funny,
While some of us enjoyed watching Al Pacino as Micheal Corleone in the Godfather the rest prepared for their next game in leasure, but none of us were in that soccer field for sure!(That includes me too!)
Getting back to the performances of our boys team. The best performing player here is Lalith Babu who has 5.5 points with 2 defeats and a rating performance of 2507, 30 points more than his actual rating. This pretty much explains the performance of the boys team, it has been a disaster. While Adhiban stands second in the list with a 2440 performance, Karthikeyan, Ashwin, Shyam and Vishnu are all struggling with a performance about 100 points below their current rating. Well there is nothing wrong about losing and I know personally that these boys are putting their heart and soul to get out of this difficult patch.
Indian boys lined up... We all only wish those board numbers started from 1 rather than 13 :)
What do you tell someone when they are really depressed? You can tell them it will get better, but that is just obvious; you can tell them that you understand their pain; but that sounds unreal at times; you can say life sucks, but that is way too pessimistic for an Indian team coach to say. The second option does work for me here as the players very well understand that I have been through a lot more disappointments in my 19 year chess career to understand their pain. But the real question is how to make them be more positive. When things go bad it is natural to just let it go, but that is the last thing you want to do in a World Junior Championship with most of the players playing in their last year.
It was great for our players one day to get some really good advice from Nigel Short over breakfast. I would like to share that with our readers here as it is a great opportunity to get tips from a player with such vast experience as Short. He said that one should not go down the road of self pity at difficult times as there would be no coming back. One should not try to feel sorry for themselves for their difficult or unfortunate defeats and instead should try to work quick fixes to repair the damage. “Damage Control” when things are not going your way is an important thing to learn.
All said and done, this has been a wonderful experience for us as a team. As I am finishing up this blog, the 11th round is done and we have had a good day. Soumya drew a completely winning game, but still maintains a healthy ½ a point lead. Kiran has increased her chances for a medal with a win to move up to 7.5 points. Ashwin Jeyaram suffered the only loss after he over pushed a drawn endgame. So with two more rounds to go, plenty of excitement to come....