Bakre's profitable outing

"This is the biggest prize-money I've ever won in chess, that too by a considerable distance," says Tejas Bakre.-RAMESH KURUP

"I actually believe the future of chess lies in such knock-out tournaments. The format is every exciting," said Tejas Bakre after winning the Poona Club rapid knock-out tournament.

Late last month, Tejas Bakre went to Pune to play in the Poona Club rapid knock-out chess tournament with expectations that weren't exactly on a Dickensian scale. A week later, though, on his way back home to Ahmedabad, he found that he had become richer by Rs. 1 lakh.

He still can't hide his glee. "This is the biggest prize-money I've ever won in chess, that too by a considerable distance," the 25-year-old Grandmaster (GM) told Sportstar shortly after winning what was the biggest tournament ever of its kind in the country; for many players, including Bakre, this was the first knock-out event in their careers.

It's of course good money, but the feeling of winning a pressure-cooker tournament after starting out as the 10th must have been, well, priceless?

"Of course it was," he says. "To win the title after beating the top-seed in the final made me feel even more special."

Surya Shekhar Ganguly, one of India's strongest players in the mind sport, was the No. 1 seed in a well-contested tournament organised by the Chess Players Association of India (CPAI). "I had my share of nerves in the final of course, but I knew that I could beat him," said Bakre.

Ganguly was Bakre's sixth victim. He had earlier knocked out local lass Amruta Mokal, B. S. Sivananda, Abhijeet Gupta ("I thought my 2-0 defeat of him was my best at Pune"), K. Ratnakaran ("who gave me the biggest headache") and home-grown GM Kunte. "This victory ranks among the best in my career," says the former World youth champion who has won consecutive continental age-group championships, besides triumphing in a Category 10 GM tournament abroad. But Bakre hadn't been having a great time on the chessboard of late though. This assistant manager with Indian (Airlines) hopes this unexpected victory would help him soar high again in his career.

"And I must say it was a well-organised tournament," he adds. "I hope there will be more such events in India; I actually believe the future of chess lies in such knock-out tournaments. The format is every exciting."

P. K. Ajith Kumar Golf in Lanka

SriLankan Airlines, through its golf tournament — the 11th Sri Lankan Airlines Golf Classic at the Victoria Golf and Country Resort in Kandy — did an admirable job in sending home the message that Sri Lanka is a safe haven for tourists, barring certain regions.

One hundred and eighty eight golfers from different parts of the world including the Middle East, United Kingdom, India and Europe took part in the tournament.

Peter M. Hill, CEO, Sri Lankan Airlines, an avid golfer himself, drove home the point that Sri Lanka is a good place for amateurs to try out golf and a safe place too, to play the game.

"The initial idea of organising this tournament was to show our golf courses — there are four of them — to visiting tourists.

"But now the focus is to attract the more discerning visitors to our beautiful island." said Ruvini Jayasinghe, Manager, Media Relations, SriLankan Airlines.

"Through the tournament, we want to show the world the beauty of Sri Lanka and showcase to the world how safe the country is."

The golfers, who had converged at the Victoria Golf and Country Resort, thoroughly enjoyed playing on the lush green course, which was rated by a reputed golf magazine as one of the 10 most beautiful courses in the world.

Sam Gunaratne, a 33-year-old from Kandy, won the Nett Stableford event while L. J. Too of Malaysia did so on the ladies' side.

Freelance journalist M. Varee was adjudged the overall men's champion and Suwen Selvaratnam emerged the overall women's winner. Hasith Jayawardene of Sri Lanka won the junior category prize.

The results: Men: Nett: Sam Gunaratne (SL) 75 pts. Gross: M. Varee (Thai) 62. Women: Nett: L. J. Too (Mas) 72 Gross: Suwen Selvaratnam (SL) 52. K. Keerthivasan