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‘I need to work on how to handle mental pressure,’ says Pune’s international chess master

Even after performing brilliantly in the earlier rounds, Abhishek Kelkar fails to come up with a solid game in the last round and watches titles slip out of his hands.

pune Updated: Nov 30, 2017 15:32 IST
Ashish Phadnis
Ashish Phadnis
Hindustan Times, Pune
chess,pune,international master
Pune’s IM Abhishek Kelkar has missed out on at least three titles due to his performances in the final stages.(HT Photo)

For city’s International Master (IM) Abhishek Kelkar, winning the last-round of an event has turned out to be a big hurdle since the last couple of months. Even after performing brilliantly in the earlier rounds, he fails to come up with a solid game in the last round and watches titles slip out of his hands.

Abhishek, who was a strong title contender and was consistent throughout the All India Open Ranking Chess Tournament, suffered a big blow on the last day of the event, as he went down to lesser rated Malleshwara Rao (1999).

This loss spoiled Abhishek’s chances of winning the title as he slipped down to third place. Maharashtra’s Shailesh Dravid (2305) scripted a last-round win over Aniruddha Deshpande to secure 7.5 points and the title. He was tied with another Maharashtra player Suyog Wagh (2146) with 7.5 points each, but with a better tie-breaker score, Dravid clinched the trophy.

“This is happening for the third time. I lost similarly in Delhi and Hyderabad this year. I was just a point away from the title, but the loss spoiled my chances. I think I need to work on myself on how to handle mental pressure,” said Abhishek.

Abhishek who was leading till the penultimate round, needed only a draw to secure his title. Initially, he followed his strategy but as the game progressed he made a severe strategic mistake which cost him not just the game but the title too.

“I had decided to play a safe and solid game and force my opponent for a draw. But, in the middle, I noticed a complicated Gambit line. I had won on a similar position earlier, so I was tempted to go for it. So, I left my safe game behind and fell for this risky variation. When I realised my mistake, it was too late. I still can’t believe I ruined my chances with such a decision. This is a severe lesson for me,” he said.

Interestingly, 25-year-old Abhishek had beaten Rao a few years back, when the Pune player was just 12, and still has that particular game in his database even today.

Meanwhile, playing on the top board, Wagh scripted a hard-fought win over Pratik Patil, while in the battle of two IMs, Rathnakaran K of RSPB proved supreme beating IM Rahul Sangma (2336) of Delhi.

First Published: Nov 30, 2017 15:30 IST