When the organizers were under time pressure
Chess players are often seen under time pressure. With the clock ticking down they have to make decisions which would make or break their event. This is quite hard as you can imagine. But at the National under-25 championships held in Jammu things were a bit different. Apart from the players, the organizers were also under tremendous time pressure. And this time at stake was not a game, but the lives of chess players. The Government of India had made an announcement that section 370 and article 35A would be abrogated from the constitution. This made the situation in Jammu and Kashmir quite tense. As the tournament was in progress until 7th of August, the organizers were now in a tough situation. What was to be done? Should the tournament be scrapped, should they continue with the event? Well, with the benefit of hindsight we can now say that the decisions made by the organizers were extremely brave and they managed to overcome this unique situation with some excellent moves. Read on.
The National Youth under-25 was held from 1st to 7th of August in Jammu. But it ended on 5th of August because of the rising political tensions in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Article 370 and 35A were abrogated on 5th of August and the entire state was shut down. There was no longer any internet connection, the phone calls were not going through and the normal transport was starting to get disrupted. The organizers were in a quandry - what is to be done? Completing the tournament would mean putting the players in grave risk. At that moment the All J&K Association took the decision that the tournament should be cut short to seven rounds instead of nine and the players should be evacuated from the state of Jammu and Kashmir immediately.
Final rankings after seven rounds
|2||28||Mohit Kumar Soni||IND||1678||BIH||6,0||0,0||28,0||30,5||25,00||6|
|5||16||Aditya P Melani||IND||1847||GUJ||5,5||0,0||29,5||33,0||24,50||5|
|12||38||Sharan R S||IND||1570||TEL||5,0||0,0||25,5||28,5||19,00||4|
|15||5||Sibi Visal R||IND||2118||TN||5,0||0,0||24,5||27,0||18,75||4|
A big congratulations to the winners. However applause should also be given to the organizers for their tremendous effort on the final day. Speaking to ChessBase India, Sravanthy Gummadi, a parent, said, "There was a lot of tension in J&K because of article 370 and 35A being abrogated by the Government of India. All the players, parents and organizers were worried as to what would happen because the internet connection no longer worked, phone calls were not going through. The organizers and arbiters made a bold decision to stop the tournament after seven rounds (instead of nine). After the round ended they brought us to our accommodation by taking permission from the Border Security Force. They gave us 10 minutes to pack our luggage and then made arrangements to bring us to the railway station. We would like to thank Atul Kumar Gupta, Raj Kumar and All J&K chess association for their timely help in such a tense situation."
Speaking to ChessBase India, the Secretary of Jammu Kashmir Chess Association Atul Kumar Gupta said, "We started to get some information on 4th August night about the possibility of section 144 (Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) is issued in urgent cases of security threat or riot and bars the assembly of five or more people in an area where it has been imposed.) being applied on 5th of August. And this information came from some high ranking officials in the police. Soon enough I started getting calls from the players that the police were coming to their rooms and asking them to leave Jammu as soon as possible. There was a situation of tension and panic. I asked the players stay put until the next day and coordinated with the Secretary of AICF Bharat Singh Chauhan and Deputy Superintendent (DSP) of Police Rajkumar, who was also the organizing secretary of the tournament. We decided to hold a player's meeting next day early morning. At the meeting, we told the players, parents and managers that the situation can get really tense and would not be in our control and hence we should end the tournament. There was a suggestion that we should have the final seventh round in the morning and then the players can depart to their respective destinations. We decided to go ahead with this plan. This was a very unique situation as section 144, barring more than five people to assemble at a single location, had been implemented, and here we were nearly 150 people who had gathered and were playing the seventh round of under-25 championship! As soon as the round ended buses were arranged for players to be dropped to the railway station and the airport. The DSP car in the front of the buses made the task easier for the players to commute. Some of the players had already rescheduled their ticket, some of them booked it at the railway station and the airport. We helped them in every possible way also making sure that the players get their reservations done. It was truly a tense situation and I would like to thank Bharat Singh Chauhan for his guidance on the phone, DSP of police Rajkumar for ensuring that no harm was done to the players, all the officials of the event, arbiters and the players themselves for showing great courage."
Chief Arbiter's report
By IA Nitin Shenvi
The Crown Trust (Sports) Regd. Organised 28th National Youth Under- 25 Open Chess Championship 2019 event which was a second event in succession under the aegis of All Jammu and Kashmir Chess Association (AJKCA was established 2006). This event was organised in beautiful and well ventilated hall of International Delhi Public School, with ample space between two boards. The arrangements inside these halls were excellent and as per the standards of any national event according to FIDE rules. The players and accompanying person given transportation from hall to hotel or vice a versa two places from Jammu. All the players appreciated the warm hospitality of IDPS.
In the event out of 109 players three FMs, a WCM, an AGM and an AFM took part and 87 players were having ELO rating and rating average 1552 of rated players which is a very good average. In this event total 22 states took part comprising of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chandīgarh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Pondicherry, Punjab, Rajsthan, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh & West Bengal. The top seed, FM Navalgund Niranjan represents Karnataka, having ELO rating 2261, followed by Rajesh Nayak of Odisha having ELO rating 2250, GM Gahan M G of Karnataka having ELO rating 2224 and FM Harshal Shahi of Delhi having ELO rating 2140.
The fierce fight was seen from first round itself. Playing with White pieces lower rated having Nagasri Saikanth (1396) of AP defeated Mahindrakar Indrajeet (2078). While other higher rated players convincingly won against lower rated and unrated players with whom they were paired. In the second round, on first board playing with with the white pieces lower rated Vishal Gohil (1593) drew his game against top seed FM Navalgund Niranjan. After end of second round in all 21 players including Gahan, Harshal, Sibi Vishal R were leading the tournament with 2.0/2. From 21, the players who had a 100% score were reduced to eight. In the fourth round Aditya Melani (1847) of Gujarat was able to beat Gahan.We were down to only four leaders after four rounds - S.Kumar, Yash Bharadia and Aditya Melani. Aditya won his fifth round game against Harshal Shahi and became the sole leader of the tournament with 5.0/5. In the 6th round however, Aditya lost his game to youngster Yash Bharadia and S.Kumar got the better of Karan Trivedi. Thus, Yash and S.Kumar were now the leaders. As mentioned above, a decision was taken that there will only be one more round that will be played. In the seventh and the final round, leader Yash lost to Srithan Saypuri and Aditya managed to draw with S. Kumar. On the third board Sparsh Khandelwal left early in the morning without informing. Mohit Kumar Soni received the point because of Sparsh's absence and this also helped Mohit win the Silver medal. S. Kumar became the champion on tiebreak and won Rs.22,000, while Mohit took home Rs.18000. Srithan Saypuri was third.
This event was really a stroke of luck for many players, as many of them gained over 50 Elo points. Special mention has to be made of Mohit Kumar Soni who gained 103 rating points, Rewansh Vaidya who gained 97 rating points, Aditya Melani who gained 83 rating points, Sharan R S - 76, Utkarsh Bhatnagar - 66, Lakshith B Salian - 58, Raghav Juneja - 55, Nagasri Saikanth - 55 Prodeep Biswas - 52.