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IM Khusenkhojaev wins Courtalam Saaral FIDE Rated Open

by R Anantharam - 18/09/2019

IM Muhammad Khusenkhojaev of Tajikistan surged ahead of six other players who tied with him, to clinch the title of the 1st Courtalam Saaral (a mixture of cool breeze and continuous slight drizzling) FIDE rated tournament organised by Tirunelveli Development Chess Association at Courtalam from 29th August to 2nd September. Total 306 players from four different federation Chile, Nepal, India and Tajikistan participated including a GM and four IMs. Photo: R Anantharam

Sayantan, Rodrigo, Manigandan, Muthaiah, Alan and Barath finish joined first

The tournament had the charm and colour in the participation of GM Vasquez Rodrigo Schroeder of Chile, IM Khusenkhojaev, Dangi Mani Raj of Nepal in addition to the International Masters Sayantan Das of Kolkata, AL Muthaiah and R Balasubramanian of Tamil Nadu. Khusenkhojaev collected ₹70000 in the prize pool of ₹510000.

IM Khusenkhojaev is the champion of the Courtalam FIDE rated open | Photo: R Anantharam

Khusenkhojaev's unbeaten title run

The first four boards of the final round ended without any decisive result, leading to a tie for the first place by seven players with 7.5 points each in a pack of 306 players. Former world under-12 champion Sayantan was placed runner up.

As in the Madurai Athens of the East GM tournament, IM Sayantan Das was runner up in Courtalam also | Photo: R Anantharam

The top seeded GM Vasquez had to be content with the third place | Photo: R Anantharam

Khusenkhojaev and Vasquez had a quick draw in the final round | Photo: R Anantharam

SS Manigandan of Madurai had a good tournament with a decent score against higher rated players. One of them is in the final round against the only grandmaster in the tournament.

SS Manigandan  won the fourth place by making a draw with GM Vasquez | Photo: R Anantharam

IM Muthaiah AL finished fifth by beating P Bala Kannamma of TN | Photo: R Anantharam

IM R Balasubramanian was off colour losing to Tamil Nadu youngster Alan Divya Raj, helping the latter to get the sixth place.

Alan Divya Raj was the surprise winner of the sixth place by beating IM R Balasubramanian | Photo: R Anantharam

M Barath Kalyan (right) overcame Sa Kannan to climb to seventh place | Photo: R Anantharam

The first three rounds of the tournament went on the expected lines except a few minor hiccups. In the fourth round, Dinesh Kumar J of Tamil Nadu rated 1878 shook the confidence of the top seeded GM Vasquez (rated more than 600 points higher than Dinesh) by holding him to a draw in a queen and pawn ending. Sixth seeded IM Balasubramanian was also held to a draw by little known S Aswath of TN.

GM Vasquez drew with Dinesh Kumar J in the fourth round | Photo: R Anantharam

Sa Kannan of Karaikudi drew with Muthaiah in the fifth round, enabling IM Khusenkhojaev, IM Sayantan Das, K Senthil Maran and M Barath Kalyan of TN to shoot into the lead with five points apiece. Senthi Maran shocked Sayantan in the sixth round to emerge sole leader with six wins. GM Vasquez regained his form to outwit Senthil in the seventh round, Khusenkhojaev defeated OT Anil Kumar of Kerala and Manigandan stopped the good run of Sa Kannan to share the lead with 6.5 points each.

IM Sayantan Das was shocked by Senthil Maran of Tamil Nadu in the sixth round | Photo: R Anantharam

Vasquez and Khusenkhojaev had a quick draw and Manigandan too drew with Senthil in the eighth and penultimate round. This helped the IMs Sayantan and Muthaiah to catch up with the overnight leaders by beating Dinesh Kumar and Swaraj Palit of Jharkhand respectively. The final round tale has already been explained.


Dr, Sheik Saleem, Governor of the Rotary district and former president of the Tirunelveli District Chess Association inaugurated the tournament. Ms. Hemalatha, Assistant Forest Conservator was the chief guest and Dr. Sheik Saleem, Governor, Rotary District 3212 was the guest of honour.


As mentioned in the preview, the season in Courtalam was very much pleasant and enjoyable. GM Vasquez and IM Khusenkhojaev spent most of their time after the games only at different falls.

GM Vasquez and IM Khusenkhojaev were stunned by the beauty of the Old Falls | Photo: R Anantharam

Vasquez captured the entire natural scenery in his camera including the unbelievable positions of some monkeys on a very steep small mountain.

Monkeys have climbed up on a steep rock | Photo: R Anantharam

GM Vasquez and IM Khusenkhojaev with the organisers at the majestic Main Falls | Photo: R Anantharam

IM Muthaiah AL (right) at the Bear falls where bears used to come in the night | Photo: R Anantharam

The picturesque landscape at Small falls | Photo: R Anantharam

The Nepal player Dangi Mani Raj enthralled with his skilful yoga postures.

A typical yoga by Dangi Mani Raj of Nepal | Photo: R Anantharam

Another yoga exercise by the Yogi | Photo: R Anantharam

Do you feel that you have missed a good chance to visit Courtalam? Don’t worry. Come and play at the Below 1600 rating tournament from 28th to 30th September at the same venue to enjoy and enrich your health. Find more details here.

Final Standings

Rk.SNoNameTypsexGrFEDRtgIClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4  TB5 nwwew-weKrtg+/-
12IMKhusenkhojaev MuhammadNATJK2442TJK7,50,055,057,045,75686,56,420,08100,8
23IMDas SayantanU25NAIND2409WB7,50,053,555,545,25786,56,66-0,1610-1,6
31GMVasquez Schroeder RodrigoNACHI2496CHI7,50,053,555,545,00686,56,93-0,4310-4,3
48Manigandan S SU255029IND2100TN7,50,052,554,543,50686,54,641,862037,2
54IMMuthaiah AlU255156IND2384TN7,50,051,555,044,75686,57,27-0,7710-7,7
613Alan Diviya RajU251042IND2026TN7,50,048,553,542,75786,55,700,804032,0
77Barath Kalyan MU25IND2118TN7,50,047,551,542,25786,56,55-0,0520-1,0
85Senthil Maran KU256956IND2222TN7,00,053,054,539,756865,470,532010,6
915Swaraj PalitNAIND1917JHA7,00,051,556,040,507865,510,49209,8
1012Sreekumar P.NAIND2051KER7,00,051,555,541,006865,420,582011,6
119Bala Kannamma PF25w5024IND2083TN7,00,051,053,538,256865,420,582011,6
1217Dinesh Kumar JaganathanU155052IND1878TN7,00,050,054,039,006864,661,344053,6
1320Kathiravan M.NAIND1842PON7,00,047,050,037,007866,36-0,3620-7,2
1418Sathya Giri VU255160IND1854TN7,00,046,049,536,507866,32-0,3220-6,4
1531Raghul Saro SU156953IND1667TN7,00,043,547,033,256865,760,24409,6
1614AGMSa Kannan6954IND2021TN6,50,052,056,037,25685,54,810,692013,8
1725Aswath SU126976IND1770TN6,50,049,553,536,25685,54,191,314052,4
186IMRamnathan Balasubramaniam1008IND2200TN6,50,049,053,536,25685,56,96-1,4610-14,6
1926Dhanush Ragav N SU256979IND1753TN6,50,047,552,036,25585,55,430,07402,8
2027Dhanasekar K.1070IND1738TN6,50,047,549,032,75585,56,28-0,7820-15,6
2123Suganthan SU151049IND1807TN-T6,50,047,050,531,25685,55,57-0,0740-2,8
2238Yukash Ram EU155160IND1598TN-T6,50,046,551,035,50585,56,19-0,6940-27,6
2319Merryston David Scanny1016IND1844TN-T6,50,046,550,535,50685,57,05-1,5520-31,0
2449Rajkumar SU12ProoIND1495TN6,50,045,048,530,25585,54,121,384055,2
2511Dahale AtulNAIND2064MAH6,50,045,047,533,25685,57,36-1,8620-37,2

Complete standings

About the Author

Prof. Rathinam Anantharam is an A-grade international arbiter. Member of FIDE Arbiters’ Commission, Chairman of Arbiters’ Commission in All India Chess Federation and also International Braille Chess Association, Vice President of Tamil Nadu State Chess Association, Chief Arbiter for six world championships, many Asian, International and National Championships.


The article has been edited by Shahid Ahmed

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