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BENGALURU: An important skill for a surgeon is to remain calm during an emergency without panicking. These are the same skills that chess requires as a competitive sport. and dr Somashekhar SP, an oncologist and robotic surgeon at Manipal Hospitals, has mastered both skills.
Now that Somashekhar has been playing international chess for some time, patience is a key aspect of both. “A surgeon is someone who must have a lion’s heart with a lady’s delicate finger. There are many ups and downs during surgeries, but you must be able to keep your mind calm and have self-control. Chess actually teaches that,” says Somashekhar, who started the mind game at the age of seven. But he didn’t take it seriously until he was in medical school, when he won the Karnataka Championship twice.
The Surgical Oncology HoD was also selected by the government to train in Russia. “But I couldn’t do it because I was also doing my fellowship at the Royal Colleges of Surgeons (FRCS) in Great Britain and the training was designed to last six months,” says the surgeon, adding that he couldn’t play chess for family reasons take up as a profession. due to family constraints. However, after completing his FRCS, he resumed training for tournaments. “I dedicate three months to FIDE, the international chess federation. Now there is another FIDE tournament in March. I travel all over the world to play chess,” he adds.
Being a surgeon is pretty hectic. He performs about 150 surgeries and treats about 1,000 patients a month, but manages to make time for chess. “Every evening between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. I play chess online with international players on the net. I read a lot of books on the subject,” says Somashekhar, adding that his daughters also play the game. His absolute favorite players are Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov, whom he finds to be opposites in nature.
“Karpov is very controlled and has good defense, while Karpov is unpredictable and emotional but gets more wins with his sudden decisions that are not always rational,” says Somashekhar, adding that he grew up studying these two legends is, but has more to do with Karpov. And of course he loves the calm nature of Viswanathan Anand. “He always came to Bengaluru to play games at Chinnaswamy Stadium. He’s way ahead of me, but I’ve played a few friendlies with him,” says the doctor, who loved Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit, a drama series based on a chess prodigy.