Akshayakalpa Karnataka State 2018: Girish Koushik is the richest state champion in the history of Indian chess!
When it comes to controlling one's nerves, there is no one better than Girish Koushik. The youngster from Bangalore was lost in his final round game against Thejkumar, but he hung on and took home the glittering trophy, Rs.1,00,000 and the title of Akshayakalpa Karnataka State Champion 2018. He is the richest state champion ever in the history of Indian chess. Girish did a lot of hard work on the final day by drawing Thej in the last round and beating Stany in the penultimate one. Second place went to Thejkumar and Ojas Kulkarni was third. A comprehensive report with analysis of the key games.
But hey, aren't we getting ahead of ourselves? The last two rounds were filled with so many interesting points that it would be highly instructive to go over them and see how a top class player like Girish kept his nerves on a day when he faced the top two seeds Stany and Thejkumar.
Pairings of round 9
|1||1||GM||Thejkumar M. S.||2493||7½||1 - 0||7½||WCM||Isha Sharma||1926||19|
|2||3||IM||Girish A. Koushik||2401||7½||1 - 0||7½||IM||Stany G.A.||2493||2|
|3||6||Ojas Kulkarni||2252||7||1 - 0||7||Dilip Kumar Pedda||1653||45|
|4||17||Kishan Gangolli||1974||7||½ - ½||7||Kulkarni Vinayak||2179||8|
|5||74||Kalki Eshwar D||U14||1515||7||0 - 1||7||Balkishan A.||2026||13|
We all know that Stany is an extremely aggressive player. In such a situation there is an inclination to play solid against him, take him out of his comfort zone. But there is also a theory that aggressive players feel the most uncomfortable when you aim at their king. Girish did just that. He attacked with all his might and made Stany go wrong. It was perhaps a flawless game by Girish which gave him the win. Let's go over this crucial encounter:
The final encounter:
Thejkumar had a relatively easier round nine as he won with the white pieces against Isha Sharma. Now with both Girish and Thej on 8.5/9, we were looking at a mouth-watering final round clash. Girish had the white pieces, but it seemed Thej had a small edge in terms of buch-holz as he was half a point ahead of Girish (51.5 versus Girish's 51).
Girish started from where he had left off against Stany. He attacked Thej with all his might. But Thejkumar in general defended much better and extinguished all of Girish's active possibilities. All of Girish's ingenious attacking ideas were not enough to breakthrough Thejkumar's defences. The only GM of Karnataka repelled the attack and seemed very close to victory when he blundered big time in the endgame and the game ended in a draw. "I didn't know that I was winning during the game. After the game when everyone told me about the chance I had missed, I was quite sad," said Thejkumar. Let's have a look at the most critical moments of the game:
Final rankings after round 10
|1||3||IM||Girish A. Koushik||2401||Mys||9,0||0,0||65,5||74,5|
|2||1||GM||Thejkumar M. S.||2493||Mys||9,0||0,0||64,0||73,0|
|15||10||IM||Hegde Ravi Gopal||2139||Blu||8,0||0,0||58,5||66,5|
|17||5||Gahan M G||2281||Dka||8,0||0,0||58,0||65,5|
|20||35||Rakshith R Umesh||1728||Shi||8,0||0,0||55,5||64,0|
Because of the double rounds I wasn't able to conduct too many interviews, but Karnataka is a hotbed of talented youngsters. A few months ago Sushrutha Reddy wrote two beautiful articles - Future Grandmasters of Karnataka Part I and II, and I could see almost all of the names in those article shining at the State tournament. I was able to catch one of the youngest stars - eight-year-old Mitul KH.
The Akshayakalpa support:
The support of Akshayakalpa towards making chess a financially powerful sport was seen in a big way at the Akshayakalpa State tournament. The prize fund was Rs.10 lakh, unheard of in state level tournaments, but their total expenditure to stage this entire event was nearly Rs.40 lakhs. Sponsors fund an event with an aim to achieve some of their marketing aims. We, as a chess community, must respect that and ensure that we support them in the best possible manner. Only then will more corporate sponsorship flow into the game and all the elements of the game including players, organizers, arbiters, media will flourish. A question that I have been regularly asked by players is "How can we help in retaining or making the sponsors happy?" Well as a starter, if you did enjoy the tournament, you can definitely go up to the sponsor and thank him for his contribution!
Speaking to CEO Shashi Kumar after the end of the tournament I could sense that he wasn't 100% satisfied with the outcome of the event. "Our goals have been achieved partially," he said. "We have a ten year road map and we will keep supporting the game of chess." As a person who has played chess tournaments where the first prize was just Rs.10,000 and the total prize fund Rs.1,00,000, I can only hope that sponsors like Akshayakalpa are not lost. They are critical to ensure the growth of the game of chess.