iconimg Friday, August 28, 2015

Dhiman Sarkar , Hindustan Times
Chennai, November 15, 2013
Magnus Carlsen had said staying at the venue was a double-edged sword because while it prevents commute on game days, it can get tough mentally to be in the same place for such a long time.

So, after eight nights, seven days and four draws, the challenger decided he needed a change of scene. If only for a night.

At 11pm on Wednesday, the Carlsens and Magnus's medical officer Brede Kvisvik left for their getaway by the Bay of Bengal, some 37km from Chennai. Sister Ellen and Magnus sat in the middle and father Henrik in front.

The senior Carlsen almost got in at the driver's end before realising passenger seats in India are differently aligned from left-hand drive vehicles back home.

The traffic thins as you head out of Chennai on the wide East Coast Road and by the time you cross the bridge at Muttukadu, where the sea forays inland, you would have lost count of the number of resorts lining one side of the road.

The place the Carlsens have chosen for their moments in the sun, sand and sea needs a couple of left turns from the main road at Kovalam. 

"Carlsen would eat here regularly when he stayed with us last week," said a waiter at Bay View, an outdoor restaurant, as Bob Dylan's call to the Tambourine Man nearly gets drowned in the wind.

On Thursday afternoon, Carlsen wasn't there. He was by the pool bare-chested, the well-toned frame stretched on the deck chair. He seemed unsure how to keep the sun away from his eyes.

Most of the others in his entourage did that by holding up a book; Carlsen was one of the two who weren't reading. Then, as the others continued sun-bathing, Carlsen and another person left.

"For a game of table tennis," said Kvisvik. The place lists catamaran rides, turtle walks, snake trails, traditional fishing, rides on all-terrain vehicles and beach cricket on its to-do list but Carlsen, said Kvisik, would possibly stick to tennis, on the table and on the court, and basketball.

On Monday, the first off-day in this 12-round joust, Carlsen and friends had gone playing football and basketball.

Nearly two decades ago, Dutch GM Jeroen Piket said a rest day often becomes more taxing because players try to do too many things. Ahead of playing white in game five, Carlsen's clearly not walking that route.