Hello, hello and welcome to our first coverage of Wednesday Night Chess in the Boys Hostel. We’ve all heard about the crazy things that we get down to in the boys hostel but we honestly find nothing more entertaining than taking one night out per week to stimulate the mind in a complex, engaging, challenging game of chess. Surprising though it may sound, it is indeed exhilarating. An idea I borrowed from a friend of mine, it has been implemented and the matches conducted by Akhil, Shamim, and myself. The first night was conducted at the end of last semester, and much as we expected, it took the Boys Hostel by storm. We’ve had four nights till now, and every night has proven to be more exciting than the last, with last night being a league above the rest. So without further delay, let’s get straight to the matches –
Chinmay v Lakshya – They were both first-timers to Chess-night, but that did not stop them from giving it all they had. Initially they both played defensive, protecting their respective pieces, not exposing their king, always guarded and out of reach from any bishop or queen trying to find a weak spot in the defence. Eventually however, they tired of their defensive styles and began to take more risks. They both opened up their defence, and both suffered successive checks. Taken aback by the blows their kings were enduring, they had different strategies in response. Lakshya went back on the defensive, and Chinmay exploited this advantage with a barrage of checks, bringing out his knights to jump over the defence that Lakshya put up, rendering it ineffective, eventually leading to the foreseeable check-mate.
Vadda v Manohar – In stark contrast to the previous match, to hell with defence seemed to be the strategy of both players of our second match of the night. Manohar in his first match against Sarangal had terrified and entertained onlookers with an unpredictable — and frankly, bizarre — strategy of fearless – aggressive gameplay, penetrating the opposing defence with wild moves, while opening his queen and king to attack on multiple occasions, but Sarangal was too dumbstruck and confused to act. Clearly, Manohar had a reputation and Vaddagiri was the underdog last night. But what an underdog he proved to be.
He lost his bishop in the start to a typically aggressive and unpredictable opening attack from Manohar. But unlike Sarangal whose futile attempts to save his king were embarrassing, Vadda quickly adapted to Manohar’s kill or be killed strategy and responded with an equally unpredictable one, taking Manohar’s knight and bishop at the cost of his own knight. The players were evenly matched but had no intention of slowing the pace of the match. The sacrificial strategy continued, and both players lost a castle each. Vadda tried to shift strategy to the defensive again but it only served the loss of his second castle after a check and Vadda was very much on the back-foot. A check-mate by Manohar seemed inevitable, when Manohar’s abandonment of defence finally backfired. Vadda exploited Manohar’s open defence with three moves in quick succession, forcing Manohar to sacrifice his queen on a check from a knight, taking his queen, and finally taking Manohar’s king on a check-mate using his own queen and a knight. It was an epic match that you just know will be talked about for many a chess-night to come.
Aditya Prakash v Hardik – The room was abuzz with excitement after the second match, but the bar was set too high and nobody expected a repeat performance. In true spirit of sportsmanship, people just wanted to watch a good game of chess. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the best. Hardik was playing with us for the first night and did not have a strategy per se and was simply playing as felt right for that move. It was effective nonetheless, with Adi managing to defend himself but not managing much more. What was evident was that more than losing pieces, Adi was exhausted by the mental faculty it required. Caught on a day that clearly wasn’t his best, he decided to forfeit the game and toppled his own king. (Rumour has it that he was simply having a terrible day for any exercise of mental facilities after saying that “France, not Paris, was the capital of Italy.”)
Subhro v Rahul – A man with arthritis against a man half his size, chess would be the only avenue where neither of them are at a handicap. Rahul appeared to have adopted a strategy which combined the defensive style of the first match with the unpredictability of the second. The result was a seemingly confused player who would expose his king after castling. Subhro’s only strategy seemed to be to take a piece when the opportunity presented itself, but do nothing else. It was proving effective enough till the match had to be stopped because Subhro was suffering from leg pains, making Rahul the winner, which could have been argued to be the eventual result in any case.
All in all, it was an action packed night and one of the best I’ve seen thus far. See you next week for the Wednesday Night Chess report!