Profile: Dilip Patel

India’s latest star reveals the secrets of his preparation

Ever heard of Dilip Patel? Maybe not, but it’s guaranteed you will soon. 38-year-old Patel burst onto the scene with a bang recently, coming from nowhere to threaten the ranks of the Super GMs with a string of remarkable tournament performances around the world. There’s no doubt that Patel is the chess world’s latest sensation. Kingpin had the chance to speak with Patel after his recent 11–0 match victory over Vishy Anand where he recorded a performance rating of 3138.

Kingpin: Congratulations on your victory against Anand. You must be very proud of the way you played.

Patel: Not so much proud as stunned that I could ever play so well. To do it against Vishy, who is a national hero of the Indian nation, is particularly pleasing.

Kingpin: And the way you won – at times you seemed very distracted at the board, almost as though you were concentrating on something else. But you still managed to find the killer moves! You ground him down like a machine!

Patel: I find I play chess better that way, if I don’t actually concentrate on the game the whole time. To divert my attention to something else, then come back to the position, that’s what works for me.

Kingpin: Is that why you took so many trips to the bathroom?

Patel: That’s right. Just having something else to look at, in this case the inside of a toilet cubicle door, can do wonders to refresh the mind.

Kingpin: Your rating has risen astronomically, from 1650 a year ago to around 2700 now. Is that the toilet door thing again?

Patel: Certainly, the toilet door has played its part, but also, a lot of hard work. Most Grandmasters are very lazy and stupid and hardly play any chess at all when they’re not in actual tournaments, they just sit round boozing and watching TV and complaining about FIDE, so it’s really no surprise that when someone comes along who is prepared to put in some real practice, they will do well.

Kingpin: What about those strange whirring noises that people said they heard coming from your toilet stall while you were in there?

Patel: That was just the toilet roll holder. Sometimes when I’m staring at the cubicle door I like to spin the toilet roll so that all the toilet paper unrolls onto the floor, and that makes a kind of whirring noise. Then I roll it all up so I can do it again next time I come to the cubicle in ten minutes’ time, or whenever I have a particularly difficult move I need to distract myself from thinking about.

Kingpin: What about your accommodation during the Anand match? You decided not to stay at the designated hotel, but went across town to one hosting an international electronics convention? Is that where you got that gadget you’re wearing on your ear?

Patel: Actually, that’s a hearing aid.

Kingpin: Oh, so you’re deaf?

Patel: Completely. I’m stone deaf and have been ever since my rating started to go up.

Kingpin: So you can’t hear anything I’m saying?

Patel: Not a word.

Kingpin: And what’s that hanging around your neck? It looks like some kind of receiver or listening device.

Patel: That’s another hearing aid.

Kingpin: And why are you wearing ear muffs?

Patel: Hearing aid.

Kingpin: That’s a lot of hearing aids.

Patel: I’m very deaf.

Kingpin: What about the fact that people have accused you of cheating to achieve your brilliant results? They say the moves of your games are the precise choices of chess engines like Fritz, Hiarcs and Shredder, often all at the same time. You have all these weird gadgets hanging off you, you spend half your time in the bathroom, you spend the other half at the board watching your manager sticking his thumb in his mouth or scratching his head in a weird way, and you’re wearing a t-shirt which reads I Am A Big Fricking Cheater. What do you say to these critics?

Patel: I’m sorry, I didn’t hear any of that.

Kingpin: Well congratulations on your fantastic victory over Vishy. And while you’re here, you’ll be promoting your new range of chess accessories, is that right?

Patel: That’s right. There’s the new radio baseball cap, perfect for listening to music while you’re playing, there’s the digital computer wristwatch with antenna and flashing chess moves, and of course a new range of laptop-shaped hearing aids.

Kingpin: That’s fantastic. And who are these products specifically aimed at?

Patel: For the lower-rated player who wants to improve. Fast.

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