Georgia’s Vedic Panda: A Challenge to Magnus!

By Davide Nastasio

On September 22nd, a simul against 11 players was held in New York city at the Liberty Science Center. The GM helding the simul was the World Champion Magnus Carlsen. The 11 players participating in such simul were chosen in quite a peculiar way, through an app, a small program, which runs under Android or Apple tablets.




I must admit I wasn’t much aware of this app, because I saw it more than a year ago, and it seemed quite primitive in that time, compared to other chess apps available, so I used it maybe for two games, and then uninstalled it. But on September 21st, I noticed an article on the Chessbase News site which was talking about the simul, and when I discovered that one of our best players in Georgia was playing, I felt excited and shared it on my FB.



Vedic playing in a Carlsen simul.


In this article I’d like to tell you more about Vedic Panda, the amazing Candidate Master who traveled from Georgia to New York to take part in this incredible event! This is a magical year for chess in US, and we must all grasp the chance to be part of something bigger. We have a wonderful women’s U.S. champion who has pledged to help to introduce more girls and women into the game.




We have the prodigal son, AKA Fabiano Caruana, coming back to U.S. and also winning the U.S. championship.



Fabiano Caruana and Vedic Panda


And then we have the US Open team at the chess olympiads winning the gold medal!   And to all of these exciting events, we add a 15-year-old candidate master from Georgia who has won the right to challenge the world champion!



Panda vs. Carlsen


This year’s simul was special, because it was on a clock!  Magnus had practically 30 minutes for the entire simul, less than 3 minutes a game, and each of his opponents had 30 minutes for the entire game.

From the Play Magnus Blog ( we have the following introduction written by Vedic Panda for the simul:

“My name is Vedic Panda. I am a highschool student chess player from Alpharetta, Georgia. I am currently a freshman at Cambridge High School as well as an active chess expert. My main interests are to get 95+ in every subject in high school, become a chess national master by the end of 2016, and help my high school chess team get 1st in the high school team state championship.

“I am currently a chess expert (over 2000 USCF). I started playing chess in the 5th grade (2012) and have always been regarded as a late starter chess wise by my grade rivals. Recently at the start of February 2016, I have gained over 100 points (No where near in comparison to Magnus) and recently crossed 2000 to 2100, although I have recently dropped to 2000. I feel very excited to meet one of my chess idols, THE Magnus Carlsen, THE Mozart of chess. I believe that playing strong players is the best way to get better at chess, and the fact that I have the opportunity to play the strongest chess player ever is a dream come true. It was always a dream for me to meet a super GM and the fact that I am going to meet and play against the best chess player in the world is a great opportunity that I hope will improve my chess in more ways than I thought possible.”




When Vedic returned home to Georgia, I had the chance to talk to him on the phone. First of all, I must thank his mother, Smita Suvadarsini Panda for sending me the pictures for the article, and of course for being such a great mother in helping her son to achieve his dreams!
Here are a few of the questions and answers exchanged on the phone with Vedic.  Any error in the transcription is mine:

Davide: How many points did you have to score to get into the simul, or was a kind of lottery system?
Vedic: I was one of the top 100 players with the highest score, and then they make a kind of lottery. I played every day, but when the school started, less.

Davide: It says once a year the points are reset to zero.  Is this really happening?
Vedic: I didn’t notice it.

Davide: Did you have to pay for your hotel and flight?
Vedic: No, I didn’t.  They covered them. I paid for my food.

Davide: How many games did you play in order to participate?
Vedic: About 100 games

Davide: On what did you play?   Tablet? Phone?
Vedic: Phone.

Davide: Do you think it taught you a lot about chess playing against the Magnus app?
Vedic: I played the Magnus app set from the age of 10 to 24, and I think it improved my rating.  Especially in some OTB tournaments I gained even 100 points thanks to those training games.

Now let’s take a look at the games from the simul. Please note that one game wasn’t recorded, so we have only 10 games instead of 11.












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