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Neelash Saha wins Late Bharatbai Halkude Memorial Chess Festival 7th Rating Open 2023

by R Anantharam - 18/05/2023

IM Neelash Saha, IM Kushagra Mohan, GM Saptarshi RoyChowdhury and IM Chakravarthi Reddy M - all four scored 8/9 each. Neelash won Late Bharatbai Halkude Memorial Chess Festival 7th Rating Open 2023 due to better tie-breaks. The remaining three were placed second to fourth. Neelash defeated Kushagra and drew against Saptarshi. Apart from Kushagra, the remaining three out of top four remained undefeated. The total prize fund of the tournament was a staggering ₹1400212. The top three prizes were ₹122222, ₹101111 and ₹55555 along with a huge and beautiful trophy each. This is Neelash's second tournament triumph of the year after he won the Vezerkepzo Winter Carnival GM where he scored his maiden GM-norm in February this year. Photo: IA R Anantharam

Top four score 8/9

Second seeded International Master Neelash Saha of South-Eastern Railway won the Late Bharatbai Halkude Memorial FIDE rated tournament, a part of the LBHM Chess Festival. Of the total prize money of ₹14,00,022/- for the open tournament, he received ₹1,22,222/-.

IM Neelash Saha of South-Eastern Railway won the tournament, a beautiful five feet trophy and a cash prize of ₹1,22,222 | Photo: IA R Anantharam

IM Kushagra Mohan of Telangana collected Rs. 1,01,111/- for his runner up finish | Photo: IA R Anantharam

Saptarshi RoyChowdhury of Metro Railway Kolkata won the third place | Photo: IA R Anantharam

First three rank holders with the trophies | Photo: IA R Anantharam

The Late Bharatbai Halkude Memorial Chess Festival, Pune had added a new dimension to rating tournaments in India. Apart from offering a never before 30,00234 rupees prize money in rating tournaments, the event was held in an air-conditioned hall, which can accommodate more than 800 players, with equally big parents’ waiting hall and the canteen of same size. No wonder, two grandmasters – 81st GM of India Sayantan Das of Kolkata and his city mate GM Saptarshi Roy Choudhuri deicded to play here, in addition to four International Masters – second seeded Neelash Saha also of Kolkata, Kushagra Mohan and Chakravarthy Reddy of Telangana and the Southern Railway’s evergreen Ratnakaran.

IM Neelash Saha scored 8/9 and gained 4.4 Elo rating points

IM Chakravarthy Reddy of Telangana also scored eight points but had a lower tiebreak score to be put in the fourth place | Photo: IA R Anantharam

Nithin Babu of Kerala (right) edged past GM Sayantan Das to obtain the fifth place | Photo: IA R Anantharam

The tournament is a boon to the upcoming players of Pune who constituted more than fifty percent of the total number of players.


Plethora of upsets started from the third round itself, when young guns, especially from the host city Pune extracted at least half a point from the titled or higher rated players. The Pune youngster Aaryan Singla forced IM Chakravarthy Reddy to shed half a point in the third round. It was the turn of Yash Abhijit Patil of Karnataka and Sushanth Kamabathula of Telangana in the fourth round, to extract half points from GM Saptarshi RoyChowdhury and IM Ratnakaran K respectively.


The top seed GM Sayantan Das was not spared in the fifth round, as Pune based Nameet Chavan forced him to settle for a draw.

Top seeded GM Sayantan Das drew with the Pune lad Nameet Chavan in the fifth round. They finished sixth and seventh respectively | Photo: IA R Anantharam

Neelash Saha and Kushagra Mohan defeated Kartik Kumar Singh of Maharashtra and Jai Sankar Subramanian of Tamil Nadu to emerge joint leaders at the end of the sixth round.

Neelash defeated Kartik of Maharashtra and... | Photo: IA R Anantharam

...Kushagra carved out a win over Jai Sankar S of Tamil Nadu to share the lead after six rounds. Jai Sankar was placed tenth in the final ranking | Photo: IA R Anantharam

Kushagra met his Waterloo at the hands of Neelash, enabling the latter to emerge sole leader after seven rounds.

Neelash got the better of Kushagra to emerge sole leader after seven rounds | Photo: IA R Anantharam

Neelash drew with his city mate GM Saptarshi to maintain his half point lead over seven others. The top two seeds Sayantan and Neelash met in the final round and drew quickly, leaving other title holders to fight for the win and title of the tournament.

GM Sayantan Das ended the winning streak of IM Neelash Saha by making a draw | Photo: IA R Anantharam

Neelash scored eight points, same as that of IM Kushagra Mohan of Telangana, GM Saptarshi RoyChowdhury and IM Chakravarthy Reddy of Telangana. But tiebreak scores favoured Neelash to win the title and a cash prize of one lakh twenty-two thousand two hundred and twenty-two rupees. Kushagra, Saptarshi and Chakravarthy finished from second to fourth in that order. Kushagra received one lakh one thousand one hundred and eleven rupees for his efforts and Saptarshi Roy Chodhury was richer by ₹55555.


Top seed GM Sayantan Das could finish only sixth, with three draws and Kerala’s Nithin Babu stood one slot ahead with the same score, but a better tiebreak.

Sudarshan Malga who drew with IM Chakravarthy in the seventh round secured eighth place | Photo: IA R Anantharam

IM Ratnakaran who held GM Sayantan to a draw could muster only the ninth place | Photo: IA R Anantharam

89 years old Subramanian T V, a former Tamil Nadu state champion still has the energy to travel and play | Photo: IA R Anantharam

Unable to move but still has the fire to play | Photo: IA R Anantharam

Electronic gadget used by a visually challenged player to record the moves | Photo: IA R Anantharam

The team of arbiters | Photo: IA R Anantharam

The organiser Nagnath Halkude and his wife with the winners | Photo: IA R Anantharam

A total of 463 players including 2 GMs and 4 IMs participated from various parts of the country. The nine-round Swiss league Rating tournament was held from 13th to 17th May 2023. It was organized by Aryan Enterprises Pvt. Ltd. at Dhruv Global School, Handewadi, Undri in Pune, Maharashtra. The time control of the tournament was 90 minutes + 30 seconds increment from move no.1.

Final standings

Rk.SNo NameTypsexFEDRtgClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4  TB5 Krtg+/-
IMNeelash SahaIND2436WB85458,550,7507104,4
IMKushagra MohanIND2400TG852,557,549,500810-0,2
GMRoy Chowdhury SaptarshiIND2273Rly850,554,547,250710-0,9
IMChakravarthi Reddy MIND2279TG850,55447,500710-5,7
Nithin BabuIND2025KL7,552,55746,500720-13,8
GMDas SayantanIND2516WB7,549,553,542,000610-8,3
Chavan NameetIND1792MHP752,55638,75062022,8
Sudarshan MalgaIND1875MP751,55641,5006206,2
IMRatnakaran K.IND2257SRly7505439,000610-3,1
Jai Sankar SubramanianIND1755TN749,553,539,50074048
Sham RIND1647TN749,553,539,25062039,4
Bhosale ShrirajIND1969MH7495440,500720-10,4
Gaikwad ManasU13IND1814MH74953,540,250640-3,2
Shah DevanshIND1684MH74952,538,00062032,8
Aditya SavalkarIND1687MH7485238,25064058,4
Mhamane SourabhIND1797MHP74851,535,7506209
Boominathan LalitaditaayyanarU15IND1626MHP747,551,536,500740100
Druvesh DondapatiU15IND1514AP746,55137,750640109,2
Dhruv Swapnil HaldankarU15IND1622MH7454937,00074025,6
Avhad PrajwalIND1614MH744,548,536,00072016,2
Raihaan ZahidU13IND1592TG7444834,50074050,8
Om Nagnath LamkaneIND1858MHP7434735,000620-18
Sherla PrathameshU13IND1738MHP742,54736,250640-12,4
AGMKiran PanditraoS55IND1698MHP741,54534,500720-11,6
Sharnarthi VireshU13IND1783MHP6,551,556,538,250640-2


About the Author

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


The report was edited by Shahid Ahmed

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