Barua's consistent show

FRESH and raring to go, Indian Grandmaster Dibyendu Barua won the fourth Tata International Open chess tournament at the J. R. D. Tata Sports Complex, Jamshedpur, overwhelming a field of 11 GMs, 12 International Masters and 176 rated players.


FRESH and raring to go, Indian Grandmaster Dibyendu Barua won the fourth Tata International Open chess tournament at the J. R. D. Tata Sports Complex, Jamshedpur, overwhelming a field of 11 GMs, 12 International Masters and 176 rated players.

Dibyendu Barua remained unbeaten to clinch the title. — Pic. S. PATRONOBISH-

The 36-year-old Kolkata-based Tata Steel officer was one of the two who played consistently throughout and remained unbeaten to finish with nine points from the nine-day, 11-round Swiss league tournament that offered Rs. 3.5 lakhs as prize money. Russian GM Alexander Fominyh was the other to remain undefeated, also with nine points, but he lost the trophy to the Indian GM, who had a better progressive score. The two, however, shared the prize money of Rs. 52,500.

It was creditable indeed for Deep Sengupta, the 15-year-old first year I.Com student from Chakradharpur in Jharkhand, to finish fifth with 8.5 points. The former World under-12 champion and Commonwealth under-16 champion not only repeated his excellent showing at the Parsvnath International rating tournament in New Delhi where he finished with eight points, but also earned a 10-round IM norm, his second, in this tournament. The first was achieved at the Commonwealth chess championship in Mumbai in April this year. Tata Steel has been supporting Sengupta for quite some time now.

That Sengupta was bunched together at 8.5 points with GM Saidali Iuldachev of Uzbekistan and GM Sergei Ovsejevitsch of Ukraine should do a lot of good to this youngster's confidence. Another youngster, Valay Parikh, an 18-year-old second year MBBS student from Ahmedabad, too, earned a 10-round IM norm, his first, and his effort only underlined the depth of talent in India in this cerebral sport. Parikh, born to Doctor parents, finished with 7.5 points.

But what the entire chess fraternity eagerly awaited was whether GM-in-waiting, IM R. B. Ramesh, would touch the magic 2500 rating to be crowned as a GM to join an illustrious band headed by super GM Viswanathan Anand. The 27-year-old assistant manager with Indian Oil earned his third and final GM norm at the New Delhi tournament. Ramesh, going into the final round against Uzbek IM Tahir Vakhidov, needed a victory but could only draw the game against a player known for solid play. Vakhidov himself was looking for the elusive third GM norm. Ramesh only needs a few more points, but otherwise he had attained all the requirements laid down to earn the GM title.

Alexander Fominyh concentrates hard on the board. Fominyh, too, scored nine points but lost the title to Barua on progressive scores. — Pic. S. PATRONOBISH-

Barua, who gave a miss to the earlier three meets held at Lucknow, Saharanpur and New Delhi, was in the right frame of mind to take on the best at Jamshedpur. Six straight triumphs, the last two against GMs Zia-ur-Rahman of Bangladesh and Pendyala Harikrishna, not only gave him the lead but also allowed him enough opportunity to plan his march towards the crown. He drew the next three against Vakhidov, Fominyh and Surya Shekhar Ganguly before crushing GM Marat Dzhumaev of Uzbekistan in the 10th and penultimate game to regain the sole leadership. He clinched the title with a draw against GM Saidali Iuldachev of Uzbekistan in the final round. Barua, who was seeded sixth in the tournament, won seven matches and drew the rest.

Harikrishna, seeded second behind GM Dmitry Svetushkin of Moldova, too, was on course but his loss to Barua in the sixth round pegged back his campaign to some extent. He recovered to draw the next two rounds against Ramesh and Bangladesh GM Niaz Murshed and beat IM Anup Deshmukh in the ninth round. His second loss, in the 10th round, against GM Fominyh proved crucial. Despite winning his final round against V. Saravanan, Harikrishna could only finish sixth, with seven victories, two draws and two losses.

Third seed GM Abhijit Kunte's display swung like a wild pendulum. The British chess champion looked out of form as he drew his second round to Laltu Chatterjee and lost the third to Vinod Bhagwat. That meant the GM had to leave the main hall reserved for the first 48 boards and play with lesser-ranked players in the first floor. He came out of this ignominy with a fine win but could never threaten the front-runners at any stage of the meet. Kunte could never meet a GM in any his 11 rounds. He ended 11th overall with six wins, four draws and one loss.

Shaidali Iuldachev (left) and Sergei Ovsejevitsch get ready for their battle in the ninth round. Iuldachev took the third place, while Ovsejevitsch came fourth. — Pic. S. PATRONOBISH-

Fourth seed Ganguly was the first GM to be shocked in this tournament when local Income Tax employee Pritam Singh took a point off him in the second round. A draw in the fourth round against Soumya Ranjan Mishra meant Ganguly was pushed out of the top 12 boards. Four victories, the last in the eighth round against Ramesh, gave the much-needed boost to his campaign. Two draws in the ninth and 10th and a loss to Fominyh in the final round, the only foreign GM he met, enabled him to finish 15th with 7.5 points.

A major disappointment of the tournament was the performance of top seed GM Svetushkin. An early draw against Vinod Bhagwat in the second round, another draw in the sixth against Sergei Ovsejevitsch of Ukraine and two losses to Dzhumaev and Sengupta in the seventh and eighth rounds respectively sent him out of the race. Though he won the last three against Indian opponents, he could only finish in 10th place with eight points.By the end of the ninth round a little less than two dozen Indians were in line for IM norms. Eight remained in the race by the end of the 10th round and only two, Sengupta and Parikh, finally got the IM norms.

Deep Sengupta (right) has a chat with Valay Parikh. Sengupta finished a creditable fifth. — Pic. S. PATRONOBISH-

The Arbiters, headed by chief R. C. Chatterjee, including two senior International Arbiters, K. R. Seshadri and A. N. Venkatesan, did a good job.

The backing of Tata Steel and Tata Power, the two sponsors, along with the Tata Steel Sports Department lent a touch of professionalism to the entire meet. Proper accommodation, transport, boarding and the other arrangements were excellent.

The second-seeded Harikrishna lost to Barua in this sixth round game and in the end had to be content with the sixth place. — Pic. S. PATRONOBISH-

The lesser-ranked players, children and their guardians were given decent accommodation and food at the Sports Complex itself. Women participants were looked after very well with adequate security in place.

The successful hosting of the fourth edition should spur Tata Steel to come forward to conduct this tournament as an annual affair. The vision of All India Chess Federation to produce 100 GMs by 2012 could be realised only when organisations such as Tata Steel come forward to support the sport, which has tremendous depth in the country.

The results (Indians unless stated):

Final round: Saidali Iuldachev (Uzb) (8.5) drew with Dibyendu Barua (9); Surya Shekhar Ganguly (7.5) lost to Alexander Fominyh (Rus) (9); R. B. Ramesh (8) drew with Tahir Vakhidov (Uzb) (8); Sergei Ovsejevitsch (Ukr) (8.5) bt Valay Parikh (7.5); Marat Dzhumaev (Uzb) (7.5) lost to Deep Sengupta (8.5); Dmitry Svetushkin (Mol) (8) bt T. S. Ravi (7); P. Harikrishna (8) bt V. Saravanan (7); Abhijit Kunte (8) bt Himanshu Sharma (7); K. Visweswaran (7) lost to Zia-ur-Rahman (Ban) (8); Varugeese Koshy (7.5) drew with Sundararajan Kidambi (7.5); R. Balasubramaniun (7.5) drew with Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury (7.5); Gurpreetpal Singh (7.5) drew with Suvrajit Saha (7.5); Niaz Murshed (Ban) (7.5) bt Arghyadip Das (6.5); Arindam Mukherjee (7) drew with M. R. Venkatesh (7); Saifuddin (Ban) (7.5) bt Rahul Shetty (6.5); R. Preetham Sharma (7) drew with Vishal Sareen (7); Vedant Goswami (7) drew with P. Konguvel (7); Jayant Gokhale (7) drew with Anup Deshmukh (7); M. Srinivasa Rao (7) drew with Arman Monir (Ban) (7); J. Malleswara Rao (6.5) lost to R. R. Laxman (7.5); Atanu Lahiri (7.5) bt Manoj K. Panigrahi (6.5); Pradip Ghosh (7) drew with Swati Ghate (7); Shashikant Kutwal (7) drew with S. Arun Prasad (7); S. Poobesh Anand (7) bt K. V. Shantharam (6); Kh. Aminul Islam (Ban) (6.5) drew with Pritam Singh (6.5); P. D. S. Girinath (6) lost to Ebenezer Joseph (7); T. R. Shanmuganathan (6.5) drew with Rishipal Singh (6.5); K. Rathnakaran (7) bt V. S. Negi (6); O. T. Anil Kumar (7) bt Soumyaranjan Mishra (6); G. Balaji (7) bt Vipul Subhashi (6).

Standings with points and prize-money (tie-break scores in brackets):

1-2: Dibyendu Barua (59.5) and Alexander Fominyh (55.5) 9 points each (Rs. 52,500 each); 3-5: Saidali Iuldachev (Uzb) (54.5), Sergei Ovsejevitsch (Ukr) (54) and Deep Sengupta (49.5) 8.5 points each (Rs. 25,000 each); 6-11: P. Harikrishna (53.5), Tahir Vakhidov (Uzb) (52.5), R. B. Ramesh (51.5), Zia-ur-Rahman (Ban) (50), Dmitry Svetushkin (Mol) (49) and Abhijit Kunte (45) 8 points each (Rs. 7,400 each); 12-24: Marat Dzhumaev (Uzb) (52), Niaz Murshed (Ban) (50.5), Valay Parikh (49), Surya Shekhar Ganguly (48.5), Varugeese Koshy (48.5), Sundararajan Kidambi (47.5), Suvrajit Saha (47.5), Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury (47), R. R. Laxman (46), Gurpreetpal Singh (46), Atanu Lahri (46), R. Balasubramaniun (45.5) and Saifuddin (Ban) (44) 7.5 points each (Rs. 3,200 each).