Ch. Kesavananda Krishna is a master of the 64-squares who made Andhra the most fertile field for chess prodigies, says A. JOSEPH ANTONY
Ch. Kesavananda Krishna... Smart analyst of the game Photo: Ch Vijaya Bhaskar
THE YEAR was 1989, the venue Puerto Rico, the event: the World under-14 chess championships. Locking horns with Vladimir Kramnik, the prodigy who went on to shock the great Gary Kasparov, was the finest Indian mind, Ch. Kesavananda Krishna.
While Kramnik is now world No. 2, Krishna has gone the way of many talented sportspersons to near obscurity and coaching. Even today, a soft spoken man, only after much persuasion does he speak of himself.
Instead, he enjoys talking about his students, who have become shining examples of their coach's dedication. G. Rohit is the reigning world under-14 silver medallist, besides clinching gold in the under-16 Olympic individual championships in 2002. D. Sai Srinivas won gold in the under-16 Olympics this year and claimed silver both in the 2002 Asian and 2003 Commonwealth under-12 championships.
For P. Laxmi Sahiti, it was gold all the way in the Asian under-10 championships, 2002 and 2003 and the Commonwealth championships, earlier this year. FIDE Master K. Nikhilesh Kumar was the gold medallist in the Asian under-14 championships, 2002. Pune-based Kruthika Nadig won bronze in the Asian under-12 girls championships and has also become a National-A woman player.
If recognition of his acumen has come rather late in the day, he has been chosen coach of the Indian teams for the World championships in Greece, a couple of weeks from now.
An indication of his down to earth outlook is when he talks first of his parents, Ch. Vijaya Laxmi and Ch. Putra Raju as the major influences on his chess in addition to his Vizag-based coach, N. Prasad.
Krishna was the first from the region to win a national age group title. A hat-trick as Andhra state's senior champion in 1996, 97 and 98, he was also the youngest. As Andhra champion in under-14, 15, 18, 19 and 25 categories, he represented the state in the nationals in all these groups.
Personal high-points include winning an international rating tournament in Vijayawada in 2000, the bronze in the recent National Cities championships as part of the Vijayawada team and a board prize and the third place in the Captain Ranande international rating tournament in Pune in 1997.
His popularity, as an easily accessible thinker on the game and a respected analyst of the myriad moves, permutations and combinations on the 64 squares that make up the battlefield, were much in evidence during the recent National junior girls, Cities and the Immortal Five FIDE-rating chess championships at Vijayawada. Krishna was much in demand with parents of promising players, officials and even the media for his thoughts on the turning points in important games. Kudos to P.T. Ummer Koya, Secretary of the All India Chess Federation (AICF), who has given India a prominent place in the world of chess, says Krishna. Youngsters inspired by feats of V. Anand, K. Sasikiran, Abhijit Kunte, P. Hari Krishna and Koneru Humpy are taking to this mind game in a big way, he observes. The seriousness of students from the Andhra region can be assessed by a growing trend of children even giving up studies to pursue active careers in chess, he says. Some of them practise for as many as seven hours a day. He also welcomes the incentives provided to successful players by the A.P. State government and the Sports Authority of India. Thanks to these, many of these youngsters can own chess software and get coached by the leading lights in the field.
Sadly, many of these young achievers and their over ambitious (sometimes avaricious) parents forget or even deliberately ignore or downplay the contributions of coaches in the success of their children. Players in Pune for instance have Grand Masters for guidance. Yet they prefer Krishna and others of his ilk from the Andhra region simply because of the devotion to the cause these gentlemen show. So much so, that frequent are the sojourns to Pune by Krishna to train players there.
A post-graduate in Computer Applications, he stands tallest among the young coaches changing the complexion of the game, apart from G.V. Srinivasa Rao, J. Subrahmanyam and L.V. Siva Kumar. The trio are not the kind to promote themselves in a market-driven world, but authorities would do well to recognise and reward the efforts put in by these unassuming ambassadors of chess.
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