Lalith Babu chases glory with rejuvenated mind

Lalith Babu said his obsession to cross the 2,600 barrier, in fact, caused him more disaster as his lacklustre show in Moscow had brought him down the rating ladder by more than 20 points

Lalith Babu said it was the time he concentrated on effective mind management.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Indian chess Grandmaster Musunuri Lalith Babu’s mission to Moscow was not a memorable one since he finished the Aeroflot Open tourney, considered as one of the world’s toughest chess tournament, with just three points out of a possible nine.

But he returned home saner and he is eager iron out the grey areas which he identified during the gruelling sojourn. Abhijeet Gupta and Vidit Gujrathi were able to muster 5.5 points from the tournament with saw Moscow’s Vladimir Fedoseev emerging victorious with seven points, thus qualifying for the Dortmund super tournament.

“Interestingly, my grey areas are not technical, but more to do with the mind. My poor mind management took me down,” admitted the GM, who was preparing to leave for Chennai to participate in an corporate tournament.

Lalith (2584) agreed that his mind was wobbling and was preoccupied with the urge to cross the 2,600 mark which was eluding him for more than three years. “Somehow I let the rating issue overshadow my game plan. For the past three years, I was aiming to cross the milestone and that impacted my performance.”

The 24-year-old Commonwealth gold medallist said it was the time he concentrated on effective mind management and his interaction with senior players, sports administrators, coaches and colleagues helped him identify solutions.

“Just like the physical body, the mind also needs rest and relaxation. A rehabilitated and rejuvenated mind enhances your performance and helps you achieve quick decision making on board. I was just doing the reverse – giving more work to my mind,” he said.

Lalith, in his interaction with Andhra Pradesh government’s Special Chief Secretary L. V. Subrahmanyam, who is the mastermind of the AP state’s sports policy, understood the importance of reading epics like Bhagavad Gita to stay grounded. “I am also taking yoga and meditation a bit seriously,” he said.

The Indian Oil Corporation officer said his obsession to cross the 2,600 barrier, in fact, caused him more disaster as his lacklustre show in Moscow had brought him down the rating ladder by more than 20 points. “I am going to keep the 2,600 issue aside and concentrate on playing mistake-free quality chess,” said a confident Lalith.

For the dejected Grandmastert, the Chessbase online blitz chess tournament, just the before his departure to Chennai, came as a boon as he, in less than three hours, emerged champion by hauling nine points out of nine rounds against some quality GMs. “This victory is significant for it boosted my sagging confidence,” he signed off.