Kerala's first Grand Master G.N. Gopal targets 2650 Elo rating

Grand Master G.N. Gopal has set his sights on reaching 2650 Elo rating as he is working on improving his game following a series of disappointments.

G.N. Gopal hit his career-best rating of 2611 in 2010 and played three consecutive Olympiads from 2008   -  Stan Rayan

He became a Grand Master at 18, has played in three Olympiads and has a rare Asian Games medal in chess. Ten years ago, when G.N. Gopal spoke about his big goal of chasing the 2700 Elo rating, the youngster appeared set to get there.

But somehow, things did not go as expected.

“From 2007 till about 2010, my progress was quite good. But after that, whatever I did, there was no clear-cut improvement. I think it was probably because I lacked a professional world-class trainer,” said Gopal, Kerala's first GM, in a chat with Sportstar.

“I should have got somebody like the famed Vladimir Chuchelov (the Russia-born Belgian GM), during that period. Had I done that, I would have reached a much higher rating.”

When Gopal was hitting the highs – he became a GM at 18 in 2007, hit his career-best rating of 2611 in 2010 and played three consecutive Olympiads from 2008 – he believed that he could pull off big results on his own.

“I did not feel the importance of having a world-class trainer then. I was thinking what was the need for that. But now, if you look at (Dutch GM) Anish Giri or other students of Vladimir Chuchelov like Indian GMs Parimarjan Negi or K. Sasikiran, they have had some sudden huge leaps in their ratings. Some from 2600 to 2650 or 2700. My rating was always sort of stuck in the 2600 range. I could not go to 2650.

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“The reason for the block was because I'd been doing the same thing again and again. That is where I missed an experienced coach, because if you reduce one mistake, your game reaches a different level. Something like three sessions with a top coach in one to one and half years would have made a big difference to my chess.”

R.N. Gopal feels that his marriage with Rohini, who has done her masters in psychology, will help him in turning things around.   -  special arrangement


Gopal married Rohini, who has done her masters in psychology, in Thrissur a few days ago and now the 31-year-old has a hunch that his chess is about to turn around nicely.

“She is very supportive, we are like-minded, have the same gives me a hint that things will be well from now on,” said Gopal, the team bronze winner at the 2010 Guangzhou Asiad, the last time chess was played at the Games.

He is also having a closer look at his games to see where he went wrong.

“Now, I'm working on those things, looking at what really went wrong, what were the clear weaknesses, which I need to improve to get better. And I'm working on specific areas with certain trainers, online with two to three trainers, including two foreigners,” said Gopal, an Assistant Manager with the BPCL in Kochi.

The 2650 is still his target. “It's a goal I've been waiting to reach for quite some time and I hope to get there in some eight to 10 months after things return to normal. Presently, I'm on 2593.”

Looks like Gopal is getting his pieces back together again.

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