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IM Nubairshah Shaikh is the winner of 1st SAARC Chess Championship 2019

by Satanick Mukhuty - 21/12/2019

International Master Nubairshah Shaikh became the champion of 1st SAARC Chess Tournament 2019 that was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh from the 24th of November to the 4th of December 2019. He scored an impressive 7.5/9 and won the tournament by a margin of half a point. Nubair finished ahead of two strong GMs and returned home richer by US$ 3,500. Interestingly, the second place also went to an Indian. IM Prantik Roy scored 7.0/9 points and finished as the runner up of the event. In this pictorial report we bring you all the details and also a short interview with IM Nubair.   


The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of states in South Asia aiming to promote economic development and regional integration. Its member states are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.The first edition of SAARC Open and Women Chess Championship was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh from the 24th of November to the 4th of December this year. Organized by the Bangladesh State Chess Association under the aegis of FIDE, this was a nine-round Swiss event that invited a total of 87 players including two GMs and six IMs from seven different countries. The time control followed was 90 minutes for the first forty moves plus 30 minutes till the end of the game with 30 seconds increment per move from move one.

During the inauguration BCF President Benazir Ahmed making the ceremonial first move with White | Photo: saarcchess2019

While Berik Balgabaev, adviser FIDE President, makes the first move with Black | Photo: saarcchess2019

Benazir Ahmed, president of Bangladesh Chess Federation and Director General of RAB, inaugurated the event as chief guest while Berik Balgabaev, adviser of FIDE (World Chess Federation) president was present as special guest. The tournament was sponsored by Russian state corporation Rosatom and co-sponsored by Saif Powertec Limited, Rupayan Group and Al-Arafah Islami Bank Limited.  

Legendary Grandmaster Nigel Short was also one of the eminent delegates who played an instrumental role in making the event happen | Photo: saarcchess2019

He also indulged in a simul which was a special attraction for both the players and audiences | Photo: saarcchess2019

IM Nubairshah Sheikh, who started as the third seed in the event, got off to a powerful start as he won his first four games quite emphatically against three Bangladeshi players and compatriot IM Prantik Roy. In the fifth round however his winning spree was halted by GM Enamul Hossain against whom he blundered to run into a mate in three from what looked like a very comfortable position.

Nubair against Md. Sharif Hossain in round three | Photo: saarcchess2019

Luckily, he recovered well and quickly after this defeat to register back to back wins. The 21-year-old Indian, finally after nine rounds, finished with a score of 7.5/9 and managed to pull ahead of his nearest rivals IM Prantik and Ziaur Rahman by half a point.

Nubair won a cash prize of 3500 US Dollars (about 2.5 Lakh rupees) along with a glittering trophy | Photo: saarcchess2019

Interestingly, the second place was also clinched by an Indian, by International Master Prantik Roy | Photo: saarcchess2019

Ziaur Rahman scored the same points as Prantik but was relegated to the third place based on tiebreaks | Photo: saarcchess2019

Not to forget, a women championship was also held alongside the open event and was won by WIM Sultana Sharmin Shirin. While Dahampriya Dewnethmie and Rani Hamid took the second and third places respectively | Photo: saarcchess2019

All prize winners in one frame | Photo: saarcchess2019

Standings after round nine (Open)

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 nwwew-weKrtg+/-
IMMohammad Nubairshah ShaikhIND24217,5223948,552,50,097,56,501,001010,0
IMRoy PrantikIND23497,0226351,055,50,0975,711,291012,9
GMRahman ZiaurBAN24547,0224351,556,50,0976,890,11101,1
CMSubrota BiswasBAN21347,0213246,049,00,0974,912,094083,6
GMHossain EnamulBAN24336,5226052,056,50,096,56,58-0,0810-0,8
IMLodhi MahmoodPAK23366,5215047,552,00,096,56,68-0,1810-1,8
IMAbu Sufian ShakilBAN22546,5211544,048,50,085,55,56-0,0610-0,6
IMMohammad Fahad RahmanBAN22476,5210843,547,50,096,56,200,30206,0
Zia Tahsin TajwarBAN20806,5209443,046,50,096,54,861,644065,6
FMIslam Khandaker AminulBAN22296,0217348,553,00,0965,490,512010,2

ChessBase India caught up with Nubair for a brief conversation about his recent achievement in Bangladesh. In the following short interview the champion speaks about his experience of playing this event and also shares one of his favourite games with detailed annotations.

ChessBase India: How did you get to know about the SAARC event?

Nubairshah Shaikh: I received the tournament circular from many people via whatsApp and Facebook. But I took it seriously when GM Ziaur Rahman sent it to me and asked me to come and play in Bangladesh. So I would seriously like to thank him.

Grandmaster Ziaur Rahman was the person who encouraged Nubair to participate in the first edition of SAARC Chess Championship | Photo: Amruta Mokal

ChessBase India: How does it feel to win it?

Nubair: It feels really good. I mean, the last couple of tournaments I played in India I was leading so many times. Like 5/5 sometimes, even 6/6 but was ending up finishing third or getting tied for some place every time. Somehow luck wasn't on my side. So I was a little depressed but then my sir IM Sharad Tilak said after one of the events that I actually did well and the important thing was to keep playing well because luck would be changing all the time. I am glad that it changed finally for me. This time I lost one round in-between by making a one move blunder after leading the event and then I was half point behind the leaders but anyhow ended up winning by a half point lead and no tiebreaks! It also feels special as for the first time I won medals for India in Senior Category.

Nubair lost his only game against GM Enamul Hossain in the fifth round of the event.

Enamul Hossain - Nubairshah Shaikh, Round 5

Nubair was actually doing well with Black in this encounter and also had two extra pawns but everything changed with the move 32...Qb4 which was a grave blunder. Can you see what he missed?

Of course, 33.Qxd5+ was the decisive blow and it was inevitable checkmate after 33...Rxd5 34.Rc8+ ... Had he not suffered this unfortunate blind spot, the result of the game could have been very different. Check out the full game below.

ChessBase India: How was the organization of the event?

Nubair: Organisation of the event was good and up to the International Standard, like an official FIDE event. I would like to congratulate the Organiser and the Bangladesh Chess Federation for making the first ever SAARC event happen.


ChessBase India: Which was your favourite game and why?

Nubair: Actually there are two favourite games. One against IM Prantik Roy in Round 4 and then against IM Mahmood Lodhi in Round 7. Both the games were crucial & helped me to get the lead in the tournament and I am glad that I won them convincingly.  

Nubair in action against Pakistan's Mahmood Lodhi in round seven. He sends us his annotated game against compatriot IM Prantik Roy from the fourth round who incidentally took the second place in the tournament. This is presented below | Photo: saarcchess2019

ChessBase India: Now that you are an engineer, what do you plan further? To pursue chess or to study more?

Nubair: It's not at all an easy question. I want to play more chess, so for now I have taken a break from studies and will be playing more events in the upcoming months.