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Sangli: Sameer Kathmale steamrolls the field

by Shubham Kumthekar - 18/05/2016

The Southern Maharashtrian city of Sangli has been a major hub of Indian chess for well over four decades. Continuing the long tradition, the 49th edition of the Late Babukaka Shirgaonkar Memorial, Sangli’s marquee event, was held from 6th to 11th May. A total of 180 players participated, with the local boy IM Sameer Kathmale ‘doing a Caruana’ and winning the event in a dominant fashion! Pictorial report with Kathmale’s analysis.

Chess in Sangli

Sangli, the Turmeric City of Maharashtra, boasts of a long and wonderful tradition of organizing chess events. While smaller chess tournaments were organized in the early 1900s, it was the establishment of the Nutan Buddhibal Mandal (NBM) in 1941 that provided real impetus to the chess activities in Sangli. Late Bhausaheb Padsalgikar, a co-founder of the Mandal, was one of the participants at the first ever Indian National Chess Championship held in 1955.

Bhausaheb Padsalgikar, a true visionary, took Indian chess organization to new heights

In the subsequent years, the Mandal went on organizing various chess events for players of different levels and age groups. Sangli soon became a chess hub, where chess players from different parts of India would flock in to compete against the best. Indeed, Indian Grandmasters right from the legendary Viswanathan Anand to the young Vidit Gujrathi have, at some point or the other, marked their presence in Sangli’s tournaments. The city has also produced several strong players like WGM Swati Ghate, WIM Bhagyashree Sathe-Thipsay and IM Sameer Kathmale, with the latter being a prominent disciple of the great visionary Late Bhausaheb Padsalgikar.

Despite the sad demise of Bhausaheb Padsalgikar in 2009, the NBM continues to organize tournaments with utmost dedication, constantly seeking to enhance players’ welfare.

The 49th  Late Babukaka Shirgaonkar Memorial

Continuing the tradition, Sangli’s premier event – the Late Babukaka Shirgaonkar Memorial - was organized for the 49th time from 6th to 11th May at the Bapat High School. International Master Sameer Kathmale of Sangli justified his top billing and registered a thumping triumph with a commanding 8.0/9. The 23-year-old went home richer by Rs.50,000.

Kathmale’s victory in the event was dominating, to say the least. He stormed the field with a ‘Caruanaesque’  seven points from the first seven rounds, overcoming his opponents  with amazing ease. Not in one game did he find himself in a precarious situation. Draws against FM Sauravh Khherdekar and Omkar Kadav in his final two games sealed the deal for Kathmale, who finished a comfortable half point ahead of his nearest rivals.

Final ranking list

Analysis by IM Sameer Kathmale

In the fifth round, Kathmale’s opponent Pratik Mulay went for an ultra-aggressive approach in the French Defence. However, the eventual tournament winner calmly refuted Black’s ambitious ideas and went on to win a good game. Kathmale has analyzed this interesting game for Chessbase India, while also pointing out a fascinating missed opportunity!

Sameer Kathmale - Pratik Mulay

Black's last move g7-g5 was a tad over ambitious. It has to be punished. Can you see how? White to play.
[Event "Babu kaka shirgaokar 2016"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.05.09"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Kathmale, Sameer"]
[Black "Pratik, Mulay"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C05"]
[WhiteElo "2345"]
[BlackElo "1961"]
[Annotator "Sameer Kathmale"]
[PlyCount "99"]
[SourceDate "2011.09.12"]
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ndf3 Qb6 8. g3 {
Look at the number of pawn moves that White has made in this game. Hardly any
of his pieces are developed. But he has a strong centre. So the ball is in
Black's court: he is ahead in development and needs to break open the position
to take advantage of that.} cxd4 9. cxd4 Be7 10. Kf2 O-O (10... g5 {should
have been seriously considered here trying to break the centre.}) 11. Kg2 f6 {
This is the usual way to play. To break open the centre.} 12. Bd3 fxe5 $6 (
12... g5 $5 {The main aim is to break the centre and Black should go to any
extent to achieve that.} 13. exf6 Nxf6 14. Nxg5 Nxd4 {And although White
should be better, his impressive centre no longer exists.}) 13. fxe5 {With no
tactical chances on the horizon White is just better with these strong pawns
on d4 and e5.} g5 $2 {This has a concrete tactical refutation. Can you find it?
} (13... Ndxe5 $6 {Such piece sacrifices are very common in this structure.
But here it is not so great.} 14. Nxe5 Nxe5 15. dxe5 Qf2+ 16. Kh3 $18 {And
White looks pretty fine.}) 14. Bxg5 $5 (14. Bxh7+ $3 {This is the move that
was absolutely crushing.} Kxh7 15. Nxg5+ Kg6 {was the staunchest defence.} (
15... Bxg5 16. Qh5+ Kg7 17. Qxg5+ Kh8 (17... Kf7 18. Qh5+ Kg8 19. Nf3 $18 {
With a very strong attack.}) 18. Qh6+ Kg8 19. Qg6+ Kh8 20. Nf3 $18) 16. Nxe6 (
16. N1f3 {might well be the best move but it is tempting to pick up the pawn
on e6.}) 16... Nxd4 17. Qg4+ Kf7 18. Nxd4 Nxe5 $1 19. Qh5+ Kg7 20. Qxe5+ Bf6
21. Qxd5 Bxd4 22. Nf3 $16 {And with two extra pawns it seems as if White is on
his way to victory, but here comes the superb resource.} Rxf3 $1 23. Qxf3 Bd7
$1 {Things are really not easy for White now with the bishop coming to c6.} 24.
Re1 Bc6 25. Re4 Re8 26. Qg4+ Kf7 27. Qh5+ Kg8 28. Qg6+ Kh8 29. Qh6+ {And White
would do well to take the perpetual. This line just shows that defensive ideas
exist in even the bleakest of positions.}) 14... Bxg5 (14... Qxb2+ 15. Kh3 $14)
15. Nxg5 Ndxe5 (15... Qxb2+ 16. Kh3 $18) 16. dxe5 Rf2+ (16... Qf2+ 17. Kh3 $18)
17. Kh3 Nxe5 18. Bxh7+ (18. Rc1 $1 {is the crucial move. Because the rook can
join in the attack at some point via c7.} Bd7 19. Qh5 Nxd3 20. Qxh7+ Kf8 21.
Qxd7 $18) (18. Qh5 Nxd3 19. Qxh7+ Kf8 {And there is no attack.}) 18... Kg7 19.
Qh5 Bd7 (19... Rf6 $1 {Defensive ideas always exist but they are not so easy
to find.} 20. Re1 Nd3 $1 (20... Rh6 $2 21. Qxh6+ Kxh6 22. Rxe5 $18) 21. Bxd3
e5+ $1 22. g4 Rh6 $17) 20. N1f3 (20. Re1 Rf6 21. Rxe5 Rh6 22. Qxh6+ Kxh6 23.
N1f3 $18) 20... Be8 21. Qh4 Nxf3 22. Nxf3 Rxf3 23. Rhf1 $1 Rf2 (23... Rxf1 24.
Rxf1 Qd8 25. Qg4+ Kxh7 26. Rf8 Qe7 27. Qg8+ Kh6 28. g4 $1 $18) 24. Bd3 Bg6 25.
Qe7+ Kh6 26. Rxf2 Qxf2 27. Qxe6 Qf7 28. Qe3+ Kg7 29. Qe5+ Qf6 30. Qxf6+ Kxf6
31. Rf1+ Kg5 32. Bxg6 Rh8+ 33. Bh5 Rxh5+ 34. Kg2 {The rest is matter of
technique.} Rh7 35. h4+ Kg6 36. Rd1 Rd7 37. Kf3 Kf5 38. g4+ Ke5 39. Re1+ Kf6
40. Kf4 d4 41. Rd1 d3 42. Ke3 Rh7 43. Rh1 Rd7 44. Rh2 Kg6 45. Rd2 Rh7 46. Rxd3
Rxh4 47. Kf4 Rh2 48. Rd6+ Kf7 49. Rd7+ Kf6 50. Rxb7 1-0 

Pratik Mulay would have fared much better if he would have studied Daniel King's Powerplay 22 which deals with a repertoire for Black with the French Defence.

The above DVD is available in the ChessBase India shop for Rs.999/- for Indian residents. If you are interested write an email to

Champion! Tournament winner IM Sameer Kathmale receiving the winner's trophy from Mr. Santosh Kakade

While Kathmale was running away with the title, a fierce race ensued for the runners-up spot. After the final round game between Kathmale and Kadav was drawn, as many as 5 players were in with a realistic chance of finishing second. In the end, FM Sauravh Khherdekar of Nagpur emerged as the runner-up, courtesy of a smooth victory over yours truly in the final round. Sauravh scored a total of 7.5 points out of a possible 9 and pipped Omkar Kadav and Ranveer Mohite on the tie-breaks to secure the second place.

Known in the chess circles for his calm and composed persona, FM Sauravh Khherdekar justified his reputation and scored a crucial final round victory to clinch the runners-up spot

Kadav and Mohite finished third and fourth respectively. The former’s performance was especially startling, as the 24-year-old lad from Satara increased a creditable 45 rating points, defeating WFM Rucha Pujari in the process.

The dark horse of the event: Omkar Kadav of Satara finished a respectable third 

Meanwhile, the author of these lines was fortunate enough to be able to execute a beautiful little tactic in Round two.

Rasal - Kumthekar

 White has just played the normal-looking 14.Kg2 in reply to Black's 13...Qf6. Black to play and win. Please do write down your solution in the comments section below! Isn't it pretty!
Majestic and Serene: The Ganesha Temple of Sangli
Did you know: the famous Bollywood actress Bhagyashri hails from the town of Sangli

The summer of 2017 will witness the Golden Jubilee edition of this remarkable tournament, an event that saw Sangli establish itself firmly on the Indian chess map. The organizers have declared that the event will be organized with great pomp, with a significant surge in prize money very much on the cards.

About the Author

Shubham Kumthekar is a 20-year-old commerce student and a tournament player from Mumbai. He learnt the moves at age seven and has been fascinated by the game ever since. Currently rated 1882, Shubham writes regularly for the news page of the FollowChess App. He wishes to remain associated with chess throughout his life, be it through playing, coaching or writing.

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