It’s important for Gopal to keep going up: Psakhis

MASTER AND THE PUPIL: GM G.N. Gopal with his coach Lev Psakhis in Kochi on Thursday.

MASTER AND THE PUPIL: GM G.N. Gopal with his coach Lev Psakhis in Kochi on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: Vipin Chandran

Stan Rayan

KOCHI: Despite having worked with some of the biggest chess kings and queens, including Garry Kasparov and Judit Polgar during some of their best years, Lev Psakhis doesn’t allow you to build castles in the air.

The former two-time Soviet Union champion, who shared the National title with Kasparov in 1981 after beating the legend, is now in Kochi to coach G.N. Gopal, currently one of India’s brightest faces in the game. But he is very reluctant to talk about goals.

Early days

“Too early to speak about goals,” said the Russia-born, Israeli citizen here on Thursday evening. “Now, it’s very important for Gopal to keep moving, to keep going up. He has come up like a rocket, it’s very important to continue.”

Psakhis, who is said to be one of the world’s best coaches, had been a big reason behind Grandmaster K. Sasikiran’s stunning rise a few years ago.

Gopal now hopes that the Israeli’s guidance would work magic as he slogs towards his next target, the 2600 Elo rating which will make him a Super GM.

Geojit, a leading retail stock broking company, is sponsoring the famed coach for Gopal, the current India No. 7 with a rating of 2562.

Indian players are very talented but often after a certain level, they begin to stagnate. “They deserve better destiny,” said the 49-year-old Grandmaster.

Psakhis admires Viswanathan Anand. “Vishy is very clever, however much he is stretched, he always has some reserve left. He has a safe mode.”

Two years ago, Psakhis quit playing chess. “Chess is becoming younger and younger, it’s very difficult to continue playing. We don’t have the energy to play against 16 and 20-year-olds. In five years, I don’t know what it will be like.”

But he feels Kasparov would still be on top had he continued with the game. “Kasparov is like a sacred man in chess. He is not a simple man, not easy to work with but he is a fantastic player. I miss his games.

“And if I meet him, I will wish him luck. Kasparov will need luck, he was in prison some time ago. Everyone has his karma, everyone chooses his own destiny…I think it will be much safer for him to play chess.”

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