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Manipal 09: Soundarya wins the Nat-B title; Stany takes the Open

by Priyadarshan Banjan - 01/01/2016

The All India Chess Federation for the Blind (AICFB), in association with the Manipal University, hosted the National B Chess Championship for the Blind at T.M.A. Pai Hall in Manipal, a picturesque educational hub in Udupi, Karnataka. The Manipal University organized this tournament along with an Open rating tournament, with a simple idea of building an audience for this sport, where the visually challenged player can truly play at a relatively higher level, compared to other games. A pictorial report.

Manipal 09: Soundarya wins the Nat-B title; Stany takes the Open

The All India Chess Federation for the Blind (AICFB), in association with the Manipal University, hosted the National B Chess Championship for the Blind at T.M.A. Pai Hall in Manipal, a picturesque educational hub in Udupi, Karnataka.


The AICFB, traditionally, has never charged any entry fees and all the players competing in this prestigious event are playing on the basis of merit, by qualifying from their respective zonal tournaments.


The Manipal University organized this tournament along with an Open rating tournament, with a simple idea of building an audience for this sport, where the visually challenged player can truly play at a relatively higher level, compared to other games.


The most remarkable performance in this chess festival was by the organizers themselves. The University managed to pull off a near perfect chess tournament with the players enjoying a competitive environment amidst the traditional ambiance and hospitality of this seat of learning. 

The impressive thing is the choice of the words

Little steps like these, especially with many children in the audience, go a long way in influencing people's views of their differently abled friends. This, in turn, produces more aware and empathetic citizens.

The visually challenged players require two tables to be able to play comfortably, and the playing arena left nobody complaining.

A well-furnished room for every player!

Every player, in both the National-B and the Open tournaments, was allotted an individual room that was comfortable in all aspects, with well-furnished beddings, table to prepare, hot water and Aquaguard purified water.


The accommodation was about two kilometers away from the playing arena, and the university arranged a regular bus service to-and-fro the venue.


The organizers also provided breakfast and lunch to all the participants, which was of a very good quality. Tea and snacks were made available to the players and the guardians all throughout the day...

...while at night, one could visit a place like this one, opposite the arena, which served some lip-smacking food!

The trophies were displayed for all and sundry to admire. The children, especially, were motivated to perform at their best.

However, the most enlightening part was the prize fund for the tournament. We had mentioned earlier that the AICFB never collects entry fees from the players. The tournaments are usually conducted by the benevolence of the organizers like Manipal University. This usually means that the total prize fund for the National-B for the Blind is low -- this edition had a total fund of Rs. 70,000/-.


We dutifully did our research, the findings of which we will present in a separate article, where we will highlight the problems that exist in the Blind Chess scene in India and investigate how we can bring about a change.


The FIDE Open, nevertheless, carried an impressive prize fund of Rs. 3,00,000/-, with an array of prizes in the category sections. As is the trend these days, the prizes were top-heavy, with those finishing below top-five getting less glamorous prizes than a strong titled player would like to earn for five days of work. This may be the reason why, despite promising a fantastic tournament, the event failed to attract more than five International Masters. Three of them could not finish in the top-five even, a testimony to how underrated Indian players are!


That said, one cannot help but give credit to the University and the organizers for organizing a beautiful tournament with quality accommodation and boarding coupled with almost world-class playing conditions, and all this for a reasonable entry fee. Surely, one of the better-organized Opens of India in 2015.


The top fourteen players from this National-B booked their spots in the National-A for the Blind Championship, 2016.

When the top-seed Kishan Gangolli beat his much lower-rated colleague Soundarya Kumar Pradhan, little did he know that the last round game would become a cliff-hanger as both of them were tied for 7.0/8!

 While Soundarya Kumar Pradhan (1591) of Orissa was able to beat Ashvin Makwana (1756) of Gujarat...

 ...Kishan Gangolli (2044) of Karnataka could only draw with Venkat Reddy (1575) of Andhra Pradesh.

Thus, Soundarya became the National-B Champion for the Blind with a score of 8.0/9, adding a hefty 135 elo points to his rating.

The 1999-born youngster is currently studying in the tenth standard and comes from the town of Boden in Orissa. "Boden...," the young lad explains," in Boden's mate". He revealed that his recent work with Fritz-13 software played a key role in helping him improve the standard of his play. "I use the JAWS software to access the Fritz that I have, from where I study and analyze the games. To read the positions, I just copy the PGN to Notepad and pick up the FEN of the position."


Are you curious to know how he 'looks' at the chessboard? "It is similar to the process through which a sighted player sees the board," Soundarya explains. "You study the position with your eyes and you have the image in your head on which you sit and work. We do the same thing as well, only here, we use our sense of touch to feel the position and feed it into our head."

 The heavy rating-favourite Kishan Gangolli had to be content with the second place, despite not losing any game, with the score of 7.5/9.

 Ashvin Makwana (1756) of Gujarat was third with 6.5/9...

...and so was his state-mate Darpan Inani (1995).


Don't be mistaken by their lack of sight! They still play interesting games that tend to capture the spectators' imagination. The man with the tie is Dr. Rajgopal Shenoy, who was competing in the Open while at the same time remaining amongst the key people in the organizing team!

 Vaishali Salavkar (1524) started was the highest rated women player in the event, but she could score only 4.0/9.

 The braille chessboard, chess clock and the notation sheet. You can understand how the players manage to play by reading our previous report.

 A friendly group analysis is a right way to enjoy some chess and banter!

The players during the prize-distribution

Rankings after Round 09:

Rk. SNo   Name FED Rtg Club/City Pts.  TB1   TB2   TB3 
1 15   Soundarya Kumar Pradhan IND 1591 ODI 8,0 46,0 42,0 42,50
2 1   Kishan Gangolli IND 2044 KAR 7,5 49,5 45,5 43,75
3 6   Makwana Ashvin K IND 1756 GUJ 6,5 50,0 45,0 36,75
4 2   Darpan Inani IND 1995 GUJ 6,5 49,5 44,5 37,00
5 13   Yudhajeet D E IND 1620 W B 6,5 46,0 42,5 31,50
6 11   Aryan B Joshi IND 1639 MAH 6,5 45,5 40,5 34,25
7 18   Venkat Reddy S IND 1575 A P 6,5 45,5 40,5 33,75
8 21   Prachurya Kumar Pradhan IND 1566 ODI 6,5 45,0 40,5 30,25
9 3   Krishna Udupa IND 1829 KAR 6,5 44,5 40,5 31,75
10 14   Waghmare Sachin Lahu IND 1612 MAH 6,5 41,5 38,0 31,25
11 10   Samant Milind IND 1686 MAH 6,5 41,5 38,0 28,75
12 49   Marimuthu K IND 1302 T N 6,5 39,0 36,0 25,75
13 4   Patil Shirish IND 1823 MAH 6,0 46,5 41,5 32,25
14 7   Swapanil Shah IND 1755 MAH 6,0 46,0 41,5 31,50

Check the complete rankings after Round 09 here.

Manipal University FIDE Open, 2015

The Open tournament that was held alongside the National B for the Blind attracted some 370 odd players from across the country. The excellent playing conditions, coupled with a friendly set of organizers, enabled the tournament to be held in a positive manner.

The players at work

This picture is only the left part of the arena. There was ample room in the top few boards while the remaining boards were also organized well with just enough space. The seats were comfortable and the hall was well-lit and air conditioned.

IM G.A. Stany (2421) won the Open without much difficulties after he had raced away to a perfect 8.0/8. He sealed the issue with a draw in the final round against...


 ...the talented Tamil Nadu boy Al Muthaiah (2297).

His enormous powers of concentration helped him finish second on tiebreak with 7.5/9, ahead of seven others. 

 Surely, the greatest surprise of the tournament was Balkishan A. (1925) of Karnataka, who scored 7.5/9, adding close to 60 elo points to his rating.

IM P.D.S. Girinath (2317) of South Central Railways was fourth

 M.G. Gahan (2255) of Karnataka was fifth 


Aravind Shastry (2207) of Karnataka was sixth 

 FM Rajdeep Sarkar (2223) of West Bengal was seventh

 Vivek Nambiar (2149) of Karnataka was eighth

Vijay Keerthi (2248) of Karnataka was ninth

 IM M.S. Thejkumar (2439) of South Western Railways could only manage the tenth place with 7.0/9.

Vasanth B.H., the Chief Arbiter for the tournament, had a tiring five days as he officiated the games with complete devotion,...

...dealing with kids incessantly offering draws...

 ...or complicated issues such as this one, where both players claimed the other was lying!

 Knight on b6: Why on earth is our commander moving so fast?! Pawn on a5: He is like that only, mate. Can't help it.

Anilkumar O.T.: Enough talk you two! Now, off you jump to c4! 

 Ojas Kulkarni (2000) of Karnataka has steadily progressed from the 1300s to cross the 2000 mark. Here, he held draws against players like IM Thejkumar and...

..IM D.V. Prasad, who couldn't have been too happy with his 6.5/9.

 14-year-old Aditee Prabhugaonkar (1780) of Goa was the best among the females as she scored 7.0/9.

Nandini Saripalli, also from Goa, helped us bring the reports to you with the pictures that she took.

An idea that cuts across religion, gender, age, cultures, geography, physical disabilities. A game that brings people together and makes them happy.

Rankings after Round 09:

Rk. SNo   Name Typ sex FED Rtg Club/City Pts.  TB1   TB2   TB3 
1 2 IM Stany G.A.     IND 2421 KAR 8,5 52,5 47,5 53,75
2 5   Muthaiah Al * U16   IND 2297 Indian Oil 7,5 53,5 48,0 46,25
3 23   Balkishan A.     IND 1925 KAR 7,5 53,0 48,0 45,75
4 4 IM Girinath P.D.S.     IND 2317 SCR 7,5 52,5 47,0 46,25
5 6   Gahan M.G.     IND 2255 KAR 7,5 51,0 46,5 43,75
6 9   Arvind Shastry     IND 2209 KAR 7,5 51,0 45,5 45,50
7 8 FM Rajdeep Sarkar U14   IND 2223 WB 7,5 51,0 45,5 44,00
8 11   Nambiar Vivek     IND 2149 KAR 7,5 50,0 45,0 43,50
9 7   Vijay Keerthi K.     IND 2248 KAR 7,5 50,0 45,0 42,75
10 1 IM Thejkumar M. S.     IND 2439 SWR 7,0 50,0 44,5 41,50

Check the complete rankings after Round 09 here.


We sincerely hope you enjoyed our coverage of the tournament. Your feedback is always welcome. We will continue to endeavour and bring you quality content.


ChessBase India will bring you an interview with the AICFB chief Charudatta Jadhav, where we will investigate the problems that ail Blind chess in India and possible solutions for the same. We will also bring you a brief interview with the winner of the Open, IM G.A.Stany, with annotated games soon!

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