Winning against an expert in their own field is literally the stuff of dreams. You imagine those tense last few seconds, you making the winning move, and cheers and shocks ring out. The expert themself look at you proudly and give you some memento that their teacher gave to them telling them to pass it on to the next big one.
Isn’t that literally every inspirational movie ever?
Something along those lines happened with Zerodha co-founder Nikhil Kamath too, when he won against chess grandmaster Viswanathan Anand during an online chess match.
But as shocking as that was, the reality was a bit different than we all thought. As it was soon revealed that Kamath had apparently used some outside help in order to win the game.
This caused a lot of commotion yesterday, with people bashing and raging against the young billionaire for using wrong methods to not only defeat Anand but also going against the very spirit of sportsmanship.
What All Happened Yesterday?
A charity online chess event was organised on 13th June 2021 with several celebrities and known personalities playing the game to raise money for the COVID-19 relief feeding efforts of NGO The Akshaya Patra Foundation.
Along with the five-time former world chess champion Viswanathan Anand, there were also Sajid Nadiadwala, actor Riteish Deshmukh, Yuzvendra Chahal, Zerodha’s co-founder and CIO, Nikhil Kamath and Kannada actor Sudeep.
However, in a surprising turn of events, Kamath who has been said to have played chess during his teenage years made moves that were quite unusual.
He started the game itself by losing a pawn, a move that has rarely been used in chess. Then went on to turn the table on Anand in a 30-minute rapid game. After this Anand decided to resign from the game himself and not wait for the time to run out, thus making Kamath the winner by default.
Some chess players have stated that Anand could have flagged down Kamath and won since there were only 13 seconds remaining of the match. But instead humbly chose to step down.
Anand even spoke about this after the match to the host of the event, saying “What should I have done instead of resigning in that position. I think it’s a bit silly to blitz. It’s ok for them to try to blitz me but it would be ridiculous if I try to blitz at that point.”
But a few hours after this, the platform on which the event was held, Chess.com, decided to ban Kamath’s account stating that the player had violated their Fair Play Policy.
Danny Rensch, Chief Chess Officer of Chess.com, in a statement said that “Our systems have been thoroughly vetted by mathematicians and experts in the fields of data science and audits have shown that chess.com makes its decisions conservatively and with the confidence that an account once closed is statistically certain to have violated rules.”
Grandmaster Pravin Thipsay also commented that “Anand is a master of tactics, accuracy and calculations. Even (world champion) Magnus Carlsen hasn’t beaten Anand in this way. It was obvious that he (Kamath) was getting external help.”
After the backlash started the co-founder of the unicorn stock brokerage firm himself put out a tweet, accepting that he did have some outside help and apologising for the same.
On Monday he posted that, “Yesterday was one of those days that I had dreamt of when I was a really young kid learning chess, to interact with Vishwanath Anand. Got the opportunity thanks to Akshaypatra and their idea of raising funds for charity conducting a bunch of chess games with Vishy. It is ridiculous that so many are thinking that I really beat Vishy in a chess game, that is almost like me waking up and winning a 100mt race with Usain Bolt.
I had help from the people analyzing the game, computers and the graciousness of Anand sir himself to treat the game as a learning experience. This was for fun and charity. In hindsight, it was quite silly as I didn’t realise all the confusion that can get caused due to this. Apologies.”
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Many people were not very happy with the apology too, calling out Kamath for his actions.
Aruna Anand, Viswanathan Anand’s wife and manager spoke to the media and revealed how Kamath had spoken to them over a phonecall and told them about the contents of his tweet.
She says though, “Anand didn’t insinuate anything but said he will go by what the algorithm (used by the fair play team at chess.com) says. He told Kamath, ‘please do not personally involve me in whatever you want to say. Whatever you do in your personal capacity to clear the situation is your call, but do not use my name in your personal tweets’.”
Aruna further added that, “It (tweet) basically alleges that Anand was helping him and it is the most outrageous thing I have heard in Anand’s career. He (Kamath) has taken a lie and used another lie to cover that. If he was helped by computers and friends, so be it. That is on his conscience. But he can’t drag Anand’s name and say Anand helped him.”
However, it was probably the grandmaster of chess himself, whose response to this whole controversy managed to win hearts.
Replying to Kamath’s explanation, he wrote “Yesterday was a celebrity simul for people to raise money. It was a fun experience upholding the ethics of the game. I just played the position on the board and expected the same from everyone.”
Upon seeing Anand’s tweet Kamath replied to it and offered a seemingly more sincere apology saying, “in my head, it was just a fun game we amateurs were playing against the greatest chess champ from India to raise funds for charity. But still gives no excuse for what I did. It was wrong and I sincerely apologize.”
However, this is quite a turn of attitude from Kamath who after his initial win had not really given the credit to this ‘outside help’ that he got.
In this video, at the time stamp of 02:17:00, Kamath told Samay Raina who hosted the event that “I think I got really lucky on that knight and bishop exchange. I think I didn’t even see that the mate was covered on the other end and that thing changed it for me.”
Besides this, the All India Chess Federation Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan also expressed his disappointment with Kamath’s actions saying, “It is really unfortunate. He (Nikhil Kamath) is a big celebrity. He should not have done that. This is really bad. For the noble cause, we are helping people and such things shouldn’t happen.”
When asked if there would be any serious action taken against Kamath, Chauhan said “He is not a regular player nor our member and we don’t have jurisdiction.”
Image Credits: Google Images
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