Closing The Curtains

The year went by fast. Playing so many tournaments did not give much time to take my foot off the gas pedal. Even while not playing, most of my time was spent studying and working on chess. Could be the reason for some bad steering towards the end.

Chess has given me a lot. At the age of 23, I have traveled the world and met people from all walks of life. The last year amplified that. This blog was mainly about chess and might not have captured the full experience. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!

I now have closure with the game that has been a significant part of my life for 18 years. It is time to leave and pursue other goals. My success in chess should be attributed to many factors, largely a combination of opportunities provided by those around me as well as personal characteristics that have allowed for hard work and relentless determination. I plan to take those qualities elsewhere.

I’d like to thank my wonderful sponsors: Muir Detlefsen & Associates Limited, Front Street Capital, and BMO Capital Markets. It was an honour to be sponsored by these great firms. The sponsorship was great, in large part, due to the intangibles.

There is respect for chess in society. Sponsorship does not come easy, it never will, and the onus should not just be on the organizers to find it. In the end of the day, who is the sponsorship for? The idea that professional chess players expect to be paid to “just” play chess is quite naive in a society where all other professions require social interaction and working with others.

The last year was not a one man show and it would not have been the same without the wonderful people around me. I’d like to thank my family and friends for the support they provided. My dad taught me how to play chess when I was 5 years old. He has always been my biggest fan. Not sure which of the two of us experienced more stress when I played in tournaments. I had a one way ticket to Khanty-Mansiysk (KM) for the World Cup. After getting knocked out, I quickly e-mailed my dad asking him to buy me a ticket back as soon as possible. Internet in KM was very slow. A few hours later, I had my return ticket. Typical of my dad. Doing whatever he can to help out. The women in my family don’t play chess. My mom has always been the calming influence that has kept everybody happy and sane. My sister gave birth to my nephew in July. That is the best memory I have from the last year, not to take anything away from chess.

I’d like to thank Tom Muir and Gordon Ritchie for their help. The two mentored me and provided me with guidance and friendship away from the board. They helped me with sponsorship. Without them, there wouldn’t be any.

From a chess perspective, the team of people I worked with consisted of GM Alexander Huzman, Liam Henry, IM Igor Zugic, IM Raja Panjwani, and a foreign GM who will remain nameless. I am very picky about who I work with, and each member of the team is a good friend, who has my full trust. Thank you to each of you for your contribution. I never had this kind of preparation before. The problem with opening preparation nowadays is that you most often develop a new idea and see it played by somebody else. A perfect example is from the game Morozevich-Svidler, which you can look at in this link. White’s 10th move is an idea that hasn’t been played at a high level but has been sitting in our preparation for about three months prior to this game.

Experiences in the last year have been scattered, ranging from a Hilton to a Monastery (Corsica), and from Tata Steel type of treatment to termites. In retrospect, it was all great. I had an unlimited number of chess stories before this year, and the quality of stories only grew. If you have known me on a personal level, there is a good chance you heard at least a few of them!

It’s time to open a new chapter in life and I look forward to it. I won’t forget where I came from, but it’s time for me to leave chess and pursue other goals. I don’t plan to play chess in the near future.

The blog will be kept up, but posting will stop. I enjoyed sharing my year with you and hope you enjoyed it too!