Sandipan Chanda finishes joint first at the Bavarian Open Championship
The recently concluded 21st Bavarian International Chess Open attracted almost 500 participants of whom around two dozen were Grandmasters. In fact, the top six seeds were rated above Elo 2600! There were only two Indian GMs in this super strong field - GN Gopal and Sandipan Chanda. Despite being far from the rating favourites, both players performed outstandingly. Sandipan Chanda was tied for first and had it not been for the mishap in the final round, Gopal, too, would have been among the leaders. However, despite all odds, he finished tied for second with an unbeaten score. A report with pictures and games.
The 21st Bavarian International Chess Open was held in Gmund am Tegernsee, Germany from 28th October 2017 to 5th November 2017. The tournament was a 9-round Swiss with a time control of 90 minutes for 40 moves and an additional 30 minutes for the remainder of the game with a 30-second increment from move 1. The event attracted around 500 players including as many as two dozen Grandmasters from various countries. On the line was a prize fund of € 16,000 with the title winner's share being € 3,000.
Both Indian GMs who participated at the event -- GM Sandipan Chanda and GM G N Gopal -- performed phenomenally well in the tournament despite the fact that they were far from being the rating favourites. After all, the field featured 6 GMs rated over 2600 which included some well-known names like Anton Korobov and Eduardo Itturizaga Bonelli.
The first half of the event went extremely well for the Indian GMs. While the seventh seed, GM G N Gopal scored 4.5/5 in his first five games, the 13th seeded GM Sandipan Chanda was in joint lead with a perfect 6.0/6. Unfortunately, in round 6, Chanda's winning spree was brought to a crashing halt by the Egyptian GM Ahmed Adly.
Even though this game was a draw, it featured much excitement with pawn storms and opposite wing castles. Gopal had a slight edge after the queen exchange but a delay in recapturing black's bishop on b7 lost him his advantage.
Chanda, who had now lost the lead, fought really hard to regain his tournament position against the Chinese IM Li Di in the seventh round. After a rather peaceful middle game, the Bengali GM tried really hard with the white pieces to push for an advantage. His efforts did get rewarded as he was able to win a pawn eventually. However, in the end, he had to content himself with a draw.
GN Gopal, on the other hand, was happy to continue at his slow but steady pace and drew against IM Marco Baldauf rather quickly after the middle game. But as it turned out later, this was only the calm before the storm.
The penultimate round brought victories to both Indian GMs and brought them back into the race for the title. Both were now tied for second, half a point behind the leader GM Kaido Kulaots who had snatched the lead from Ahmed Adly by beating him in the seventh round.
While GN Gopal systematically outplayed IM Gelerf Meins, after the German IM gave up two pieces for a rook in the middle game, GM Sandipan Chanda almost lost his edge against IM Arno Zude and was on the verge of conceding a draw.
In the final round, luck smiled yet again on GM Sandipan Chanda. With the white pieces in hand, Chanda audaciously went for pawn advances on the kingside and opened up his king with the hope of generating attacking chances against the black monarch. In the opinion of the calm-nerved engines, however, this just lost two pawns.
Fortunately for Sandipan, this was good enough to outfox his opponent as Baldauf erred soon and let his opponent take home the full point.
In his final round game against the promising young Russian FM Andrey Esipenko, Gopal had a dead winning position in a queen and pawn endgame. And perhaps it was under time pressure that he surprisingly gave up all of his advantages and ended up conceding a draw. Had he won, he would have joined the leaders along with his compatriot Chanda. Even though he finished tied for second and seventh in the final rank after tie-break, this was surely a disappointing end to his unbeaten run.
With the leader, Kaido Kulaots' draw against Itturizaga Bonelli in the final round, Sandipan Chanda was able to climb up the leaderboard and catch Kulaots at the top. Egyptian GM, Ahmed Adly also won his game against Fernando Peralta to join the leaders. After tie-breaks were applied, Adly took the title prize while Kulaots and Chanda finished second and third, respectively.
Players were seen enjoying Bavaria's speciality (its Beer!) after the tournament. | Image source: Official Website
About the Author
Aditya Pai is an ardent chess fan, avid reader, and a film lover. He has been an advertising copywriter and is currently pursuing a Master's in English Literature at the University of Mumbai. He loves all things German and is learning the language. He has also written scripts for experimental films.