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Tania Sachdev on Cheating in Chess, Broadcasting, and Losing

tania sachdev chennai 2022

Tania Sachdev in the 2022 Chess Olympiad in Chennai. Photo: Lennart Ootes.

IM Tania Sachdev called for a lifetime ban for cheating in chess during her Ask Me Anything session, in which she answered dozens of questions from chess24 users. She also talked about broadcasting, professional chess, and how she feels that the pain after a loss is more intense than the happiness after a win.

Do you agree with her?

Here are some of her answers:

What chess books do you recommend? What is your favorite Chessable course?

Checkmating Manual is a really great course! I want to set my timeline and finish it in 25 days. It looks really fun. This is one chess book I really recommend - Positional Decision Making by Boris Gelfand. Another book is Improve Your Calculation by Ramesh, and Thinking Inside The Box, which is a really cool book.

When will you do a Banter Blitz?

Banter Blitz is on my bucket list as well! Every time I play on my stream there is also some sort of informal Banter Blitz, so you can join there too.

When did you start playing professional chess?

I started moving the pieces when I was less than 7 years old. It was a chessboard gifted by my aunt to my brother and I would see my dad teach my brother how to make moves and play. I too wanted to learn and a week later I started beating both of them. That’s what got my parents to put me into chess. After school I had to decide if I wanted to focus on academics or pursue chess as a career. I had my first GM training when I was 17 or 18.

In light of recent events, and based on your own travels to several chess tournaments, do you feel cheating in OTB chess is a major issue? If so, what should FIDE and event organizers do to prevent it from happening?

I think FIDE and event organizers are continuously doing more and more to make sure this is not an issue in chess. This is such a difficult area to deal with in chess. In other sports, it is very clear. For example, on a football field, it is a foul or not. In cricket, if it is a runout or not. These things are so visible and tangible to see. But in chess, it becomes a lot more complicated and difficult. One can only be suspicious and feel like there hasn’t been fair play. Once again, I think FIDE and event organizers ensure that the tournament is played under full fair play conditions in place. But there is always this question, if it has happened or not. I think this is a big issue in online chess. I think if a player is caught cheating, nothing less than a lifetime ban is [deserved]. Also there are major issues when an unfounded allegation is made. This has a very big effect on the player and that is when I think that is not a great side of things. If there are some allegations made, there must be some backing to it.

Professional chess player or commentator?

My heart is still a bit more towards playing. The high and the adrenaline while playing is unmatched. But commentary is also something I enjoy tremendously. I am constantly striving to do new things. To try out new things while commentating and trying new styles. It’s a really fun process for me.

Which event are you most looking forward to next year?

I think I am looking forward to a lot of stuff playing wise. There is going to be the Asian Games next year. I hope I can make it to the team and represent India. That would be another tournament I would be motivated to play. I also like open tournaments like the Reykjavik Open. From a commentator's perspective, I am looking forward to next year’s Chess Champions Tour. The World Championship should also be fun. I think Magnus not playing is a bit sad overall and it doesn’t feel it has the same impact. Nonetheless, it’s gonna be Nepo vs Ding. It should be interesting to watch. But I think I am very excited about the Tour with all the new changes.

tania sachdev at the Reykjavik Open 2017

Tania Sachdev at the Reykjavik Open 2017. Photo: Lennart Ootes.

Who do you think will win the Fischer Random World Championship this year?

It’s so hard to say who will win it… I think right now in St. Louis, it’s Fabi who got it. So he’s very strong at it. To be pretty honest, I haven’t seen or followed any of these events, so it’s hard to say. I’m wondering about Hikaru because it’s often said that he’s streaming so much so he hasn’t been able to work on openings but he’s so strong so he might be a good candidate. I think Wesley… but it’s hard to say because I haven’t followed it much.

Do you feel more happy after winning or more sad after losing?

Actually, I think it’s more sad after losing. If you really think about it, the more painful stuff that happens tends to stick more with us than the happy stuff that happens. Somehow it’s in our nature I see. I think it’s something around that. When you lose it hurts a lot more. The only way you feel better after a loss is to go back and win a game. The only thing that makes me feel better is winning.

How do you recommend training the endgame - to win or draw difficult positions?

I think endgames are very, very difficult. They are very difficult to master. Some endgames like rook-pawn endgames... You have to work on them again and again. The first lesson is to not be hard on yourself. If you are not able to save a position that someone might say “it’s technically a draw” or “how could you not win this”... No, it's not easy at all. Work regularly on endgames. There are some books on endgames like Dvoretsky’s.

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