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Rahul Sangma wins in Guwahati

by Nongsha Angom - 05 August 2017

States in the North-East region of India famous for their scenic beauty and vibrant flora and fauna. However, chess tournaments in this region are a rare occurrence. In fact, only about a dozen tournaments were organised in the last three years in all of the eight states combined! Therefore, a group of chess lovers from the region decided to satiate their craving for a chess tournament by organising one themselves! The tournament was a major success and attracted more than 250 participants that included 6 titled players. At its conclusion, the event saw IM Rahul Sangma lift the winner's trophy with a score of 7.5/9. Angom Nongsha, a participant of the tournament sends us a comprehensive report.

The Guwahati International Open Fide Rated Tournament was held in the riverine city of Guwahati from 12th to 16th July 2017. What was special about this event was that it was organized by many chess aficionados who were tired of the lack of chess tournaments in the North Eastern part of the country. In the past three years, only about a dozen of tournaments were organized in eight north eastern states together! These earnest efforts of some true lovers of the game were fittingly rewarded as the tournament turned out to be a major success. The event attracted participation from 17 out of the 29 Indian states. A whopping 258 players participated in the event of whom 157 were rated players. Moreover, the event included seven titled players: four International Masters, two FIDE Masters and one Candidate Master.

Starting rank:

No.   Name FideID FED Rtg Club/City
1 IM Palit Somak 5010454 IND 2359 West Bengal
2 FM Karthik Venkataraman 25006479 IND 2344 Andhra Pradesh
3 IM Sangma Rahul 5013615 IND 2327 Railway
4   Kaustuv Kundu 5056900 IND 2274 West Bengal
5 IM Suvrajit Saha 5002532 IND 2225 West Bengal
6   Singh S. Vikramjit 5006090 IND 2216 Manipur
7 FM Dutta Joydeep 5016592 IND 2150 West Bengal
8   Dhar Rajib 5015596 IND 2145 Assam
9   Singh Y. Dhanabir 5009723 IND 2130 Manipur
10 IM Ramnathan Balasubramaniam 5001277 IND 2126 Tamilnadu

Prize winners of the Guwahati FIDE Rated tournament.

With such a strong field of participants, the tournament was bound to be a tough one. After nine vigorous rounds played over a span of five days, the event witnessed as many as five players tie for the first place with a score of 7.5/9! After the tiebreaks were applied, it was IM Rahul Sangma who took home the winner’s purse of ₹ 50,000. As soon as the final standings were put up, the author of these lines rushed to interview Rahul Sangma. 

Top three winners at the event. 

But a better tiebreak gave IM Rahul Sangma the champion's trophy.

Final Ranking after 9 Rounds:

Rk. SNo   Name FED Rtg Club/City Pts.  TB1   TB2   TB3 
1 3 IM Sangma Rahul IND 2327 Railway 7,5 0,0 53,5 58,5
2 11   Arpan Das IND 2109 West Bengal 7,5 0,0 53,0 57,0
3 1 IM Palit Somak IND 2359 West Bengal 7,5 0,0 51,5 56,0
4 17   Anustoop Biswas IND 1990 West Bengal 7,5 0,0 51,0 55,5
5 9   Singh Y. Dhanabir IND 2130 Manipur 7,5 0,0 49,5 53,0
6 2 FM Karthik Venkataraman IND 2344 Andhra Pradesh 7,0 0,0 52,0 57,0
7 10 IM Ramnathan Balasubramaniam IND 2126 Tamilnadu 7,0 0,0 50,5 54,0
8 8   Dhar Rajib IND 2145 Assam 7,0 0,0 50,0 54,0
9 5 IM Suvrajit Saha IND 2225 West Bengal 7,0 0,0 50,0 53,5
10 4   Kaustuv Kundu IND 2274 West Bengal 7,0 0,0 49,5 54,5

Complete final rankings

Analysis by IM Rahul Sangma

Below is a game annotated by the tournament winner Rahul Sangma. It's his last round win against Rajkumar Apollosana.

[Event "Guwahati International FIDE Rating"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.07.16"]
[Round "9.3"]
[White "Sangma, Rahul"]
[Black "Apollosana, Rajkumar M"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B42"]
[WhiteElo "2327"]
[BlackElo "2070"]
[Annotator "Sangma,Rahul"]
[PlyCount "63"]
[SourceDate "2009.09.25"]
[SourceVersionDate "2009.09.25"]
{This was the last round of the tournament, where i was half a point behind
the leaders, Also my opponent had a previous rating of 2200+, So i thought of
just to focus on my game and hope for the Best!} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4
4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Qc7 6. Qe2 d6 7. c4 Nf6 8. Nc3 g6 ({Also popular is} 8... Be7
) 9. O-O Bg7 10. Be3 $5 {going for different plan.} O-O 11. Rac1 Nbd7 12. Rfd1
b6 13. b4 Bb7 14. f3 {White is active but still needs to regroup forces on the
weak spots in the solid black's camp. Whereas Black must wait for right moment
to break in the centre while defending his weaknesses.} Ne5 (14... Rab8 $5) 15.
Nb3 {[%csl Rb6][%cal Ge2f2,Gc3a4]} Nfd7 16. f4 $1 Nc6 $5 {this just loses so
many tempos with the knight..} (16... Nxd3 $8 17. Qxd3 Rfd8 18. Qxd6 Qxc4) 17.
a3 $14 Ne7 {[%cal Yf7f5]} 18. Qf2 Bc6 $2 {Its tough to believe he missed this
thematic idea or maybe his calculation went somewhere wrong..!?} (18... Rab8
$142 19. Na4 $140 Bc6) 19. Nd5 $1 Bxd5 (19... exd5 $5 20. cxd5 Qb7 (20... Nc5
$5 21. bxc5 Ba4 22. cxb6 $18) 21. dxc6 Nxc6 22. e5 $1 dxe5 23. Be4 Rac8 24. Qf3
Ndb8 25. f5 $16 {Black's almost all pieces are tied down and have no active
role...So, white should win easily from here.}) 20. cxd5 Qb7 21. dxe6 fxe6 22.
Nd4 $1 (22. Bc4 d5 23. exd5 exd5 24. Qf3 Nf6 {White is still better but black
is still holding somehow.}) 22... e5 $6 (22... Bxd4 23. Bxd4 $16 {[%cal Ye2b2,
Yb2a2,Ra2g8,Ra1h8] White is controlling all dangerous diagonal near black's
king so no need for deep calculation here.}) 23. Ne6 Rfc8 24. Bc4 $1 $18 {
[%csl Rg8] Light squares and d6 pawn is too weak to defend. White is winning.}
Kh8 25. Ng5 $5 {There are many ways to win from here so i tried to choose the
more crushing ones..} Rxc4 (25... h6 26. Nf7+ Kh7 27. Nxd6 $18) 26. Rxc4 exf4 (
26... Rf8 27. Rxd6 $18 {[%cal Gf2h4]}) 27. Nf7+ Kg8 28. Nxd6 Qb8 29. Rc7 $3 {
A picturesque postion! There are many simpler ways to win ofcourse but i saw
the chance of doing smoothered mate and i didnt wanted to miss such an
opportunity!!} (29. Qa2 Kh8 30. Nf7+ Kg8 31. Rxd7 Qf8 32. Rcc7 $18) (29. Rc8+
Qxc8 30. Nxc8 Rxc8 31. Bxf4 $18) 29... fxe3 (29... Qxc7 $2 30. Qa2+ Kh8 31.
Nf7+ Kg8 32. Nh6+ Kh8 33. Qg8+ Nxg8 34. Nf7#) 30. Qa2+ Kh8 31. Nf7+ Kg8 32.
Rdxd7 {With this beautiful finish I got the beautiful Champion's trophy also.
As all the leaders drew their games and with better tiebreak I prevailed.} (32.
Rdxd7 e2 (32... Qf8 33. Rxe7 $18) 33. Rd8+ $1 Qxd8 34. Nxd8+ Kh8 35. Nf7+ Kg8
36. Nh6+ Kh8 37. Qg8+ Rxg8 38. Nf7#) 1-0


Interview with Rahul Sangma

Angom Nongsha (AN):  Hi Rahul! First of all, heartiest congratulations on winning this tournament.

IM Rahul Sangma (RS): Thank you so much (Smiles).


AN: So what was it that helped you win this tournament? Did you have any special preparation?

RS: Actually, my first purpose of coming to this place was to visit Kamakhya Temple. My mother has also come with me. Since my home is in Bihar, it’s a bit near compared to Gujarat. So the main reason was to see places. Regarding the tournament, yes, I wanted to do better as when I first saw the list, not many good players had registered. But afterwards, 6 titled players and lot of other good players had enrolled. So I thought to myself I’ll play my best game without caring much about the result.


AN: And what do you think is the biggest strength of a chess player?

RS: I think the biggest strengths of a chess player are passion and a never say die attitude. When you are truly passionate you give 100% to any position – even if it’s a position you are uncomfortable with. And once you are willing to give your 100% you can cope with difficulties more easily.


AN: Could you share with us what your daily schedule is? How much time do you dedicate to practice and preparation?

RS: Honestly, before I became an International Master, I was working very hard on chess. I used to practice for nearly 8 to 9 hours daily. But once I became an IM, I got a job in the Railways and I started doing other things like coaching. So right now, I am working only around 3 to 4 hours a day but I feel I should start working more.


AN: And how much importance do you give to physical fitness?

RS: I give it a lot of importance. I exercise daily and I also do yoga and jogging.


AN: You have already crossed the 2400 mark in the past and now again you are marching towards it. What you do think is the difference between an IM and a GM and how do you intend to bridge this gap of 100 rating points?

RS: Okay actually my peak live rating was 2427 so I know I have the strength of 2400. And the main difference between an IM and a GM is that the latter gives more time and is very well prepared. Also, I think GMs have a good team and coaches to prepare with.


AN: What role do books play in the betterment of a chess player? Do you think it’s a good way to improve?

RS: Of course, books are very important. In my own case, I didn’t have a personal coach. My family too disapproved of my chess playing initially since they didn’t know how secure my life will be playing chess. Nobody played chess in the family so no one thought I could have a stable career being a chess player. So, in the beginning, it was all self-study for me. What helped me get better during this time was books. If I had not had the books I studied from back then, maybe I would not have become an IM. Of course, I did attend a couple of GM coaching camps later but never had a personal coach and that’s when my books and my computer came to the rescue. There is such a lot of knowledge packed in those books, after all! If one cannot afford expensive coaching and still wants to become a master, my suggestion would be to read as many books as possible.


AN: You seem to be totally enchanted by the books you’ve read. Can you tell us which book is your favourite?

RS: I like Dvoretsky’s books very much. I feel, in a way, he was my personal coach. I have studied almost all of his books. Other than Dvoretsky, I also like books by Jacob Aagaard.


AN: But for an aspiring player, there is a plethora of books to choose from. How should one go about finding the right course for himself in these books? 

RS: This is a very important question. These days, there is so much information available that it is very difficult to ascertain what one should study and what can be omitted. So the best approach, in my opinion, is that you should first ascertain where your interest lies. That would help you determine what suits you better. For example, a tactical player you should first start with tactics whereas if you prefer positional play, you should start with books on strategy. That way you will learn faster. And once you are confident enough that you can handle something other than what you’re reading, you should go for books on topics that you’re not comfortable with.


AN: Do you mean a player should start with learning the middle game?

RS: Yes the middle game is very important. After you’ve studied the middle game, you can go on to the endgame and lastly the opening. What most players do is that they start with learning openings and that’s not the right approach.


AN: Who is your favourite chess player?

RS: From the classical times, Fischer (smiles) is my all-time hero. Among the current players, I like Carlsen’s style and will very much.


AN: We have come to the end of the interview, Rahul.  My last question to you is: what role has your family played in your chess journey?

RS: Family support is very important. Unfortunately, in my family, no one was interested in sports. Everyone was very good at studies. Many in my family have become doctors, engineers, IAS and IPS officers etc. So, in the beginning, my father was against my chess playing. He couldn’t understand how anyone can make a decent living by playing chess. But when he saw my passion and dedication towards the game, kind of acquiesced. And once I started performing well, he supported me wholeheartedly. Now they are very happy that their decision to give me a chance to pursue my dream turned out to be a very good one.


AN: Thank you so much for your time. On this note, I’d like to wish you all the best for all your future endeavours; and once again, many congratulations on winning this tournament.

RS: Thanks so much, the pleasure is mine.


The upcoming talent from North-East: Shahil Dey

Former Commonwealth gold medalist and 10-year-old Candidate Master Sahil Dey, pride of North-east was also a participant of the tourney and he did played some really exciting chess to upset some of the big players around. I approached him to share one of his game for this article and he happily annotated his win against IM Ramanathan Balusubramaniam from the recently concluded Sardar Prakash Singh Memorial tourney. A fine attacking game which I enjoyed quite a bit. I hope you too will like it and get a peek into Shahil's style of play.

Watch out for this young boy Shahil Dey as he tries to become the first IM and GM from North east!
[Event "1st Sardar Prakash Singh Memorial"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.04.18"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Shahil, Dey"]
[Black "Ramnathan, Balasubramaniam"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B06"]
[WhiteElo "1738"]
[BlackElo "2164"]
[Annotator "Shahil Dey"]
[PlyCount "57"]
[SourceTitle "shahil games"]
[SourceDate "2016.03.28"]
[SourceVersionDate "2016.03.28"]
1. e4 d6 2. d4 g6 {Pirc Defence} 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. f4 Nd7 (4... Nf6 {Main move.} 5.
Bd3 O-O 6. Nf3 Nc6 (6... Nbd7 7. O-O e5 $5 8. fxe5 dxe5 9. d5 (9. dxe5 Nxe5 $1
(9... Ng4 $2 10. Bg5 $1 Qe8 11. Nd5 $16 {[%cal Gd5c7]}) 10. Nxe5 Qd4+ 11. Kh1
Qxe5 $11 {.}) 9... Re8 10. Qe1 $5 Nc5 11. Bb5 Bd7 12. Bxd7 Qxd7 13. b4 $1 Na4
$5 14. Nxa4 Qxa4 15. Bb2 Nd7 16. c4 $5 $14 {.}) 7. e5 $5 dxe5 8. fxe5 (8. dxe5
Nd5 9. Nxd5 Qxd5 10. O-O $11 {Also possible}) 8... Nh5 9. Be3 Bg4 10. Be2 f6 $1
11. exf6 exf6 12. Qd2 $1 {[%cal Ge1c1]} Kh8 $6 13. O-O-O $16 Ne7 14. h3 $1 Be6
15. d5 $1 (15. g4 $6 Ng3 16. Rhg1 Nxe2+ 17. Qxe2 $11) 15... Bf7 16. Bc5 Re8 17.
Bb5 c6 $8 18. dxc6 Qxd2+ 19. Nxd2 $5 (19. Rxd2 {Possible option}) 19... Nxc6
20. Nc4 Bxc4 21. Bxc4 $14 Ng3 22. Rhg1 $1 f5 23. Bf2 f4 24. Nd5 Ne2+ 25. Bxe2
Rxe2 26. Rgf1 g5 27. h4 h6 28. hxg5 hxg5 29. g3 f3 30. Bc5 b6 31. Ba3 f2 32.
Rd2 Rxd2 33. Kxd2 Rd8 34. c4 $8 b5 $1 35. Ke2 bxc4 36. Ne3 Bd4 37. Nxc4 Re8+
38. Kf3 Ne5+ 39. Nxe5 Rxe5 40. Bb4 Re3+ 41. Kg4 (41. Kxf2 $4 Rb3+ 42. Ke2 Rxb4
$19) 41... Bb6 42. Bc3+ Kg8 43. a4 Re4+ 44. Kxg5 Rxa4 45. Kf5 Kf7 46. g4 Be3
47. Be5 Rc4 48. g5 $4 (48. Bg3 $1 {1/2-1/2}) 48... Rc1 $1 $19 49. g6+ Kg8 $19 {
0-1 (49) Shyam,N (2454)-Jones,G (2671) Dubai 2017}) 5. Nf3 c5 $6 (5... c6 $5 6.
Bd3 b5 7. a3 Bb7 8. Be3 e6 $5 9. O-O Ne7 10. Qe1 O-O 11. Kh1 Nb6 (11... f5 $2
12. Ng5 Rf6 13. e5 dxe5 14. dxe5 Rf7 15. Nxf7 Kxf7 $18) 12. h4 a5 13. Qg3 f5
14. e5 d5 $11 {Black should play like this}) 6. Be3 $1 cxd4 $6 7. Bxd4 $16 (7.
Nxd4 $2 a6 $11) 7... f6 (7... Ngf6 8. e5 $1 dxe5 9. fxe5 Ng4 10. e6 $1 Ndf6 11.
exf7+ Kxf7 12. Bc4+ e6 13. Ng5+ $18) 8. Bc4 $1 $18 (8. Ng5 $1 {Also a good move
} Nb8 (8... e5 $2 9. Ne6 Qa5 10. Bf2 Kf7 11. Bc4 $18) (8... fxg5 $2 9. Bxg7 $18
{[%cal Gg7h8]}) 9. Bc4 Nh6 10. Ne6 Bxe6 11. Bxe6 Nf7 12. Qd3 O-O 13. h4 $1 $18)
8... Qc7 9. Qe2 $1 Nb6 10. Bb3 Bd7 11. a4 $1 Nh6 12. a5 Nc8 13. Nd5 Qd8 14. Qc4
$1 Bc6 15. Ng5 $3 Qd7 (15... fxg5 16. Bxg7 $18 {[%cal Gg7h6,Gg7h8]}) 16. Ne6 $3
Rb8 (16... Qxe6 $4 17. Nc7+ Kd7 18. Nxe6 $18) 17. Ndc7+ $1 Kf7 18. Nc5+ d5 19.
Nxd7 dxc4 20. Bxc4+ e6 21. Bxe6+ Ke7 22. Nxb8 $18 Kd6 23. Nxc6 $1 bxc6 24. Bxc8
Rxc8 25. Na6 c5 26. Nxc5 Kc6 27. O-O-O Bf8 28. Ne6 f5 29. Nxf8 $18 1-0


About the author:

Nongsha Angon is an aspiring chess player who fell in love with the royal game only two years ago in 2015. When he is not playing chess, he loves playing the guitar and the flute. He also has a 2nd DAN black belt in Manchurian Kung Fu and a black belt in Taekwondo. His aim is to establish himself as a chess player and play chess for the rest of his life while simultaneously promoting chess in North East India. Currently, he is pursuing a degree in English at IGNOU.

Nongsha's experience writing for ChessBase India:

Nongsha sent us this article with the following words:


"Its really an honour for me to write for ChessBase India! Never ever before have I written any articles, but reading the regular coverage of the Indian chess scene which ChessBase India provides has gave me enough confidence to write my first article. I was also very nervous to speak with IM Rahul Sangma and do an interview with him, but somehow gathered enough courage to approach him for a short interview. Once again thanks to ChessBase India for frequently updating superb interviews from around the world which are very rich in quality. Rahul was very humble and readily agreed to my request."


Nongsha, we at ChessBase India feel proud that you learnt so much from reading our articles. We thank you for your contribution and for promoting chess is Assam and North East India.


You, dear reader, can also contribute to the ChessBase India newspage. Just drop a mail to us at

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