Sandipan Chanda dominates Leiden Open 2019
Sandipan Chanda's highest career Elo was 2656. To see him at a rating of 2516 almost seems like a publishing error. The man has deep understanding of chess, he calculates well, loves to play chess and yet he has systematically shed rating points in the past few months. What was going wrong? Well, whatever it was, seems to have been halted at the Leiden Open 2019, where Sandipan scored 7.5/9 with a rating performance of 2630 and finished a full point ahead of his nearest rivals. Sandipan won his first six rounds and then drew his remaining three to comfortably win the event. The Crown Group was won by Predrag Nikolic who made a strong finish by scoring four out of the last five rounds to edge ahead of Lalith Babu and Deep Sengupta.
Sandipan had no plans of going to Netherlands, not even Europe, this summer. However, when he got a mail from the organizer Jan Bey, that this was the last time the long standing sponsors Mr & Mrs. Piket would be sponsoring the Leiden Open, Sandipan agreed to play. "When you are invited with a lot of kindness and affection- even when your rating is going downhill - you can't refuse it!," says Sandipan. For Sandipan, Netherlands has always been a lucky hunting ground. He has won the strong open in Dieren, also known as the Dutch Open, for two consecutive years in 2016 and 2017 and now he adds the Leiden title to the list as well. "Yes, I have some really pleasant memories of the Netherlands. I hope the new people in the organization manage to continue this (Leiden) strong tournament in the future as well."
We saw some of Sandipan's interesting games in part I of our report where he had raced to 5.0/5. Sandipan won his sixth round as well, taking an unassailable lead. In the last three rounds he didn't have to try too hard, made three draws and finished as the champion.
Sandipan has won a tournament after quite some time. Naturally it was a relief for him. "Most of the strong players present in Leiden were playing in the closed crown group. I was in fact the top seed in open. But to me personally this win means a lot. Having one bad tournament after another, it feels great to win now." Sandipan found two of his games to be quite interesting in this event. They came against the second placed Hing Thing Lai and Sergey Ivanov, who finished third.
Let's have a look at the Hing Thing Lai game. The things you can learn from it are Sandipan's opening choice with 5.Bd2. It is something that he has played on many occasions and has excellent grasp of it. Also noteworthy is the pawn sacrifice in the middlegame where White just gives up the pawn on d4 so that his pieces can come to life. Overall this game is played at an excellent level.
After Sandipan's win against Hing Thing Lai, let's turn our attention to his victory over Sergey Ivanov. Sandipan plays his favourite opening - the Dutch (in Netherlands!) against 1.d4 and very soon gets a promising position. He takes the pawn on h2 with his knight which invites trouble to some extent, but this is what Sandipan likes to do. If he cannot refute a move, then he plays it, no matter how dangerous it looks. In this case, if White had played accurately he would have been better, but Ivanov couldn't continue in the most accurate manner and very soon the initiative was with black. Once Sandipan got the play rolling on the queenside, it was a nicely executed attack.