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Chennai 01: Back where it all began

by Niklesh Kumar Jain - 18/01/2017

Chennai is the city where chess began its ascent as a sport in India. It is widely known to be the seat of learning for Indian players. Every street corner has a nursery of chess academies producing champions across all categories in chess. The Indian circuit of grandmaster tournaments comes to an end traditionally with the GM Open in this city. We bring you a curtain-raiser along with a brief investigation of the upsets and other questions.

The Chennai Open 2017 has begun with customary upsets in the seat of chess learning in India. Chess began its ascent as a sport in India in this city, when it was still called Madras. The Indian circuit of three tournaments will now come to an end with the final even in Chennai, after the first two in Mumbai and Delhi.

The tournament is taking place in the heart of Chennai
The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium is important for the sporting health of Tamil Nadu, and in the case of chess, the country itself. For, this is where the main office of the All India Chess Federation is situated.
The star pieces, the King and another King (not Queen), welcome the players at the entrance to the playing arena.
The arbiters' team and the organizing officials taking stock of the arrangements in place.
The playing arena

 Mr. Hariharan welcomes the players.


The morning rounds have been shifted to 10 am in the players meeting.


Experienced arbiter IA Anantharam welcomes the players and talks about the arrangements in place.

It must be noted that the Indian circuit this year failed to attract a single 2600+ player, barring Farrukh Amonatov of Tajikistan, who was already living in Delhi as a coach for some time now.


While the Mumbai leg of the circuit had Sandipan Chanda leading the starting list, this tournament has...

...GM David Alberto as the top seed with a rating of 2569.

Curiously, only five players in the starting list have ratings above 2500. There are 317 players participating in toto. The Indian challenge is led by...

...GM Sahaj Grover (2467) of Delhi.

Some of the questions that crop up are 1. Why aren't the Indian grandmasters playing 2. Why is the number of foreign grandmasters rated above 2500 so low?


Were the conditions not satisfactory? If so, why? Do the players simply fear the loss of rating points at the hands of underrated Indians?

GM Andrei Deviatkin (2499) is no doubt a strong grandmaster, who peaked at 2608 once upon a time.

In the first round, he was playing Sooraj MR, rated 1818. Deviatkin slowly gained an advantage out of the opening and was looking forward to convert it into a regulation win. And then, he just blundered.


This game is a reflection of Deviatkin's time in India—he has just failed to connect and find his groove and is losing to much lesser players.

[Event "9th Chennai Open International Grandmas"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.01.18"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Sooraj M R"]
[Black "Deviatkin, Andrei"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B10"]
[WhiteElo "1818"]
[BlackElo "2499"]
[PlyCount "101"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2003.06.08"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 c6 2. d3 d5 3. Nd2 g6 4. g3 Bg7 5. Bg2 e5 6. Ngf3 Ne7 7. O-O O-O 8. Qe2
Re8 9. Re1 d4 10. Nc4 f6 11. Bd2 Bg4 12. a4 Qd7 13. h3 Be6 14. b4 Na6 15. Kh2
Rad8 16. Reb1 Nc7 17. Ng1 Nc8 18. f4 Bxc4 19. dxc4 exf4 20. gxf4 d3 21. cxd3
Qxd3 22. Rd1 Qxe2 23. Nxe2 Nd6 24. Be3 Nxc4 (24... Nxe4 25. Rxd8 Rxd8 26. Bxe4
f5 27. Ra2 fxe4 $17) 25. Bxa7 f5 26. Rxd8 Rxd8 27. Rc1 Nd6 28. Bb6 Rd7 $4 (
28... Nde8 $11) 29. Rd1 Nce8 30. e5 g5 31. exd6 gxf4 32. Nxf4 Be5 33. Kg3 Nxd6
34. Kf3 Kf7 35. h4 Ke8 36. Bh3 Rf7 37. Nd3 Bc3 38. Nc5 Rf6 39. Bc7 Nc4 40. Rd8+
Kf7 41. Nxb7 Nd2+ 42. Rxd2 Bxd2 43. a5 Rh6 44. a6 Rxh4 45. a7 Rxh3+ 46. Kg2 Ra3
47. Ba5 f4 48. a8=Q f3+ 49. Kf2 Bg5 50. Nd6+ Kg7 51. Qb7+ 1-0


Indian GM M.R. Venkatesh (2439) has lost over 100 points in the previous couple of years. In the first round, he lost to unheralded Rohith Krishna, rated 1790 in a Ruy Lopez.
[Event "9th Chennai Open International Grandmas"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.01.18"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Venkatesh, M.R."]
[Black "Rohith Krishna S"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C62"]
[WhiteElo "2439"]
[BlackElo "1790"]
[PlyCount "68"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2003.06.08"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 d6 4. d4 exd4 5. Nxd4 Bd7 6. Nc3 Nf6 7. Nde2 a6 8.
Ba4 g6 9. Bg5 Bg7 10. f4 O-O 11. O-O b5 12. Bb3 Qb8 13. Bxf6 Bxf6 14. e5 Bg7
15. Ne4 Bf5 16. Nf6+ Kh8 17. g4 Bxf6 18. gxf5 dxe5 19. Kh1 Rd8 20. Qe1 Qb7 21.
Ng3 exf4 22. Rxf4 Re8 23. Qf2 Nd4+ 24. Kg1 Nxf5 25. c3 Bg5 26. Rf3 Nh4 27. Rd3
Rad8 28. Rad1 Rxd3 29. Rxd3 Re3 30. Rd5 Re1+ 31. Qxe1 Nf3+ 32. Kf2 Nxe1 33.
Kxe1 Bh4 34. Ke2 c5 0-1




Pairings for Round 02:

Bo. No.     Name Rtg Club/City Pts. Result Pts.   Name Rtg Club/City   No.
1 94     Chakravarthy Y V K 2047 AP 1   1 GM David Alberto 2569 ITA   1
2 2   GM Bernadskiy Vitaliy 2540 UKR 1   1   Manigandan S S 2067 TN   93
3 100   CM Raja Rithvik R 1991 AP 1   1 GM Sivuk Vitaly 2540 UKR   3
4 4   GM Tukhaev Adam 2516 UKR 1   1   Sarbojit Paul 2042 WB   95
5 102     Balkishan A. 1989 KAR 1   1 GM Malakhatko Vadim 2514 BEL   5
6 104   AGM Sa Kannan 1985 TN 1   1 GM Horvath Adam 2499 HUN   7
7 8   GM Czebe Attila 2491 HUN 1   1   Soham Datar 2005 MAH   97
8 106     Mohite Ranveer 1979 MAH 1   1 GM Stopa Jacek 2479 POL   9
9 10   GM Neverov Valeriy 2478 UKR 1   1 CM Mendonca Leon Luke 1999 GOA   99
10 108     Negi Virender Singh 1976 AI 1   1 GM Grover Sahaj 2467 DEL  


See complete pairings here.

Photos and article by Niklesh Kumar Jain. Priyadarshan Banjan contributed to this report.

This article was edited on 19 February. Special thanks to our reader 'Chess Player' for pointing out the mistakes.

Games in PGN 

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