Aravindh Chithambaram is the Indian National Champion 2018
In the year 2016 Aravindh finished runner-up at the Nationals, in 2017 runner-up once again. Was the 19-year-old from Chennai really incapable of winning the national title? Aravindh didn't think that way! He tried once again in 2018, gave it his all and this time emerged victorious. He not only won the title of the National Champion, but also gained a spot in the World Cup 2019. At the same time he won Rs.5,00,000 - the highest prize money ever won by an Indian at a National Championship. Second place went to IM CRG Krishna, third place was won by untitled Srijit Paul ahead of several GMs. In all five norms were made at the event - Stany made a GM norm, Niranjan, Ritviz, Srijit and Harshavardhan made IM norms. A detailed final report from the National Championship 2018.
"Really I cannot believe that I won the championship!" These are the words of the National Champion Aravindh Chithambram after winning the first unified National Championship. "It was similar to 2016 and 2017. But the pressure here was less, because a draw was enough to win the title." This was the first time that the National title was won by playing just one event. In the past Indian chess has been having the National Challengers which is a qualification tournament to the National Premier. Having just one Nationals meant that the prize money had improved. Aravindh become the highest paid national champion winning the cheque of Rs.5,00,000.
Aravindh's talent has never been in question. Right from the time he won the Chennai Open in 2013, which was held in parallel with the Anand - Carlsen match, people have known that there is something special in this boy. That was when he was just 13 years old. Five years later Aravindh is a full fledged GM, who has crossed the rating barrier of 2600 for the second time in his chess career now. Born in 1999, at the age of 19 Aravindh has already achieved the title of National Champion. His fighting approach to chess, along with over the board creativity makes him a fierce competitor. Just go over his games from the National Championship 2018 and you will find that he was ready for a struggle in each and every game!
One thing that Aravindh has lacked in the past, is the control on his nerves. In critical tournament situations, he seemed to buckle under pressure. This is quite surprising because over the board when the pressure reaches its pinnacle, Aravindh seems to be enjoying himself. But it's the off-the-board pressure which becomes too much for him. However, just like a champion, Aravindh is looking closely at his weaknesses and working on them. He had won the bronze medal at the World Juniors 2017 by beating GM Xu Xiangyu in the last round. Once again at the National Championship 2018, he showed great control on his nerves and got a winning position against CRG Krishna. It was only when he realized that Vaibhav Suri had lost his game that Aravindh agreed to a draw. In any case a draw was enough for Aravindh, as he had beaten Vaibhav in their individual encounter. But being the champion with half a point difference is always special.
This National title has not come easy for Aravindh. For two years - 2016 and 2017 he has been relegated to the second spot. In 2016 it was Karthikeyan who took home the trophy and in 2017 it was Lalith Babu. ChessBase India Power's Ankit Dalal reminisces, "After the last round at the National Challengers 2017, I approached Aravindh for an interview. He was the top seed and had finished tenth. The youngster was utterly dejected with his performance. It didn't matter to him that he had made it to the National Premier. He replied to me saying, "Bhaiya (Brother), I don't deserve to be interviewed as I didn't win the tournament. Let me work harder and win the premier and then you can take my interview!" Aravindh didn't win the premier that year but he did win it in 2018. What amazed me was his attitude. The attitude of a champion."
The final rankings when the National Championship was held in 2016 in Lucknow:
Final ranking in 2016:
|1||11||GM||Karthikeyan Murali||IND||2530||T N||10,5||0,0||66,75||7|
|2||8||GM||Aravindh Chithambaram Vr.||IND||2565||T N||9,5||0,0||62,25||7|
|4||5||GM||Vidit Santosh Gujrathi||IND||2689||PSPB||9,0||0,5||53,50||5|
|7||4||GM||Bakre Tejas||IND||2450||I A||7,5||1,0||44,25||3|
|8||9||IM||Ravi Teja S.||IND||2384||RSPB||7,5||1,0||42,75||5|
|11||3||Dhulipalla Bala Chandra Prasad||IND||2316||A P||5,0||0,0||29,50||3|
|12||10||GM||Sriram Jha||IND||2426||L I C||3,0||0,0||13,25||0|
|13||14||FM||Praneeth Surya K||IND||2388||TEL||1,0||0,0||5,00||1|
The final rankings when the national championship was held in Patna, Bihar in 2017
Final ranking in 2017
|1||7||GM||Lalith Babu M R||IND||2525||PSPB||9,0||0,0||57,75||6|
|2||3||GM||Aravindh Chithambaram Vr.||IND||2573||TN||8,5||0,0||49,00||6|
|5||6||GM||Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan||IND||2568||KER||7,5||1,0||43,50||4|
|10||5||GM||Deepan Chakkravarthy J.||IND||2477||RSPB||6,0||1,0||35,00||3|
|11||14||GM||Swapnil S. Dhopade||IND||2516||RSPB||6,0||0,0||36,25||2|
|13||4||Sammed Jaykumar Shete||IND||2310||MAH||4,0||0,0||26,00||2|
The final rankings of the current nationals that were held at Jammu in 2018!
Final ranking in 2018:
|1||4||GM||Aravindh Chithambaram Vr.||IND||2584||TN||10,0||0,0||99,5||106,0||13||10||8,32||1,68||10||16,8|
|2||16||IM||Krishna C R G||IND||2464||RSPB||9,5||0,0||93,0||99,0||13||9,5||8,98||0,52||10||5,2|
|7||10||GM||Vishnu Prasanna. V||IND||2518||TN||9,0||0,0||96,5||102,5||13||9||8,45||0,55||10||5,5|
|13||7||GM||Deepan Chakkravarthy J.||IND||2550||RSPB||8,5||0,0||98,5||105,0||13||8,5||9,19||-0,69||10||-6,9|
|14||18||IM||Vignesh N R||IND||2455||TN||8,5||0,0||95,0||102,0||13||8,5||8,32||0,18||10||1,8|
|15||14||GM||Swapnil S. Dhopade||IND||2490||RSPB||8,5||0,0||94,5||101,0||13||8,5||8,75||-0,25||10||-2,5|
|19||26||IM||Rajesh V A V||IND||2402||TN||8,5||0,0||93,5||99,0||13||8,5||7,66||0,84||10||8,4|
I would like to cover Aravindh's journey at the National Championship in a separate report that will have the interview with the national champion. However, if there was one game that I had to choose which would be my favourite Aravindh victory in the tournament, it would be his win in the rook endgame over Abhijeet Gupta.
Aravindh Chithambaram vs Abhijeet Gupta, Round 5
Did you enjoy the endgame? Well, while analyzing it, I realized that this endgame of Aravindh vs Abhijeet resembles very closely with the famous Capablanca - Tartakower endgame, where the World Champion Capablanca, gave up his pawns just like Aravindh did, used his opponent's pawns as an umbrella and won the game! Here's the famous endgame:
What is quite interesting is the way in which Krishna came from behind and scored a massive 6.0/7 towards the end to finish second.
CRG Krishna's best game in the tournament was surely his win at a critical juncture over Stany G.A. In the penultimate round, Stany had an excellent chance of winning the title, but CRG's queen sacrifice in the game became a bit too much to handle!
Stany GA vs CRG Krishna, round 12
CRG Krishna now has a rating of 2469 and two GM norms. Judging from the way he is playing, he might become a GM very soon.
Srijit Paul is a 17-year-old youngster from West Bengal. His start to the tournament was not so great as he drew against 1760 opponent. But in the third round he beat India's 56th GM Harsha Bharathakoti. This was followed by a loss against GM Laxman and GM Abhijeet Gupta. Until round 7 it seemed like a normal tournament for Srijit. But that's where his tournament stopped being normal and became an amazing one! First he beat IM Swayams Mishra in round 9, this was followed by a win against GM Sundarajan Kidambi and then in the penultimate round agaisnt GM Anurag Mhamal. His last round opponent was GM Vaibhav Suri who was fighting for the top spot. Srijit once again maintained his cool and beat his opponent with the black pieces! Thus ended a splendid tournament for the West Bengal youngster. Third place, three lakh rupees, 75 Elo points, IM norm and loads of experience! What more can one ask for from a single event!
Prize money won by top 10 players (source: AICF):
This was the highest prize money nationals ever. A total of Rs. 20,00,000 was at stake in the tournament. These are the prizes won by the players:
|1||GM Aravindh Chithambaram||TN||10 pts||Rs. 5,00,000/-|
|2||IM CRG Krishna||RSPB||9.5 pts||Rs. 4,00,000/-|
|3||Srijit Paul||WB||9.5 pts||Rs. 3,00,000/-|
|4||GM Venkatesh M R||PSPB||9.5 pts||Rs..2,00,000/-|
|5||GM Deep Sengupta||PSPB||9.0 pts||Rs. 1,50,000/-|
|6||GM Vaibhav Suri||PSPB||9.0 pts||Rs. 1,00,000/-|
|7||GM Vishnu Prasanna||TN||9.0 pts||Rs. 1,00,000/-|
|8||IM Akash G||TN||9.0 pts||Rs. 1,00,000/-|
|9||GM Sandipan Chanda||WB||9.0 pts||Rs. 75,000|
|10||IM Stany G.A||AAI||9.0 pts||Rs. 75,001|
The tournament was a big success from the point of view of norm makers. As chief arbiter Dharmendra Kumar informed us, "A total of five norms were made at the event. One GM norm and four IM norms."
Winner of the Trivia:
In our first report on the National Championship we had asked you who would win the National title. We got many different answers, but only one could guess the winner correctly. Aakash Dalvi guessed the right answer - Aravindh Chithambaram. Congratulations Aakash, you win one month ChessBase Premium Account. Please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your prize!