R. B. Ramesh triumphs

R. B. Ramesh receiving the trophy from chess patron, Dr. N. Mahalingam as S. P. Ambrose of Adyar Times looks on. — Pic. K. GAJENDRAN-

INDIA'S FIDE Rated Tournaments are dominated by International Masters and the third Adyar Times Open Chess Tournament that took place in Chennai from May 17 to 23 was no exception.

The five International Masters took the top five places with top seed Ramachandran Balagurunathan Ramesh of Indian Oil playing consistently to win the tournament held during the height of summer at Kumararani Meena Muthiah College of Arts and Science in Gandhi Nagar, Chennai.

A glance at the final standings will reveal very few surprises. J. Ramakrishna of Andhra Pradesh and national under-18 champion S. Poobesh Anand of Southern Railways were on track winning their first four rounds. Ramakrishna who had won other rating events led the tournament after seven rounds with 6.5 points. A poor opening choice led him to a miniature defeat against Ramesh in the eighth round. Thereafter, Ramesh dominated the show.

Ramesh said he was able to play calm without getting excited in any of his games. He showed that he was the best performer and played with a mix of caution and accuracy and rarely took chances. In the final round he could have won against second seed Sundararajan Kidambi of Bharat Petroleum, but once he knew that the title threat from Poobesh Anand disappeared he took the draw in a better position.

The 27-year old Ramesh had reasons to be happy at the end of the seven day competition for he remained undefeated and also won the tournament with 7.5 points from nine games. He became the first top seed to win the tournament which has always provided surprises. The winners of the 2001 and 2002 editions were B. T. Muralikrishnan of Southern Railway and R. Balasubramaniam of ICF.

Ramesh is looking forward to becoming a Grandmaster soon and push his rating up into the super category club. He came into chess when he suffered a head injury while playing cricket. His older brother G. B. Prakash of Indian Bank has completed the Grandmaster title norms but is waiting for the required rating to confirm his title. He was swept into the chess field by the Anand wave.

The International Masters did not start well but ended in a rush to the tape. V. Saravanan of Bharat Petroleum who had won the Chess Mate Rated Open at Chennai this January and failed in the Mumbai National `A' took the third place with a final round win.

If they call Chennai as the Mecca of Indian chess, then this south part of the city should be referred as the creative capital. Adyar Times, a free circulation weekly newspaper sponsored the event which boasted of cash prizes totalling Rs. 50,000. It was smoothly organised by the Tamil Nadu Chess Association.

The purpose of rating tournaments is to make more rated players in the nation. The number of rated players in the nation stands at 1194, clearly the highest in Asia. This event in its third year is a very popular one. Many try to play for the sake of ratings, some for refreshing their chess skills and the top players for the cash prizes and the pride of their employers. R. K. Athavan from Sri Lanka who played in Chennai events last year and got an international Elo rating had brought another chess player from his country this year.

The Tamil Nadu Chess Association tried to attract the International Masters by offering them appearance fees as commonly done in Europe. This got five International Masters to compete and added strength at the top. The five IMs justified their extra money by taking the top five places.

Two days had two rounds a day and the 40{+o}c plus heat left many players tired and exhausted. In the closing ceremony, the Chief Guest, Dr. Mahalingam suggested to have summer games only after 6 p.m. With the advent of the shorter session of FIDE, games finish within four hours. Organisers conduct two rounds a day for logistic reasons. It happens all over the world and this is happening in warm India too.

As in the previous years, S. Paul Arokia Raj of Chennai Port Trust was the chief arbiter and the event went off smoothly. The event is going to be a regular feature of Chennai chess and dozens of players have gained new ratings from the event.

Dr. N. Mahalingam who gave away the prizes commended the sponsor, S. P. Ambrose, I.A.S. (Retd.) of Adyar Times, saying he knew him for being an able administrator. International Master Manuel Aaron, General Secretary of the TNCA said it was Ambrose who approached him when he learnt that the game lacked sponsors three years back.

The final placings: 1. R. B. Ramesh 7.5/9, 2-6. Sundararajan Kidambi, V. Saravanan, G. B. Prakash, Deepan Chakravarthi, K. V. Shantharam 7 each, 7-14. J. Ramakrishna, S. Poobesh Anand, Syed Anwar Shazuli, R. Balasubramaniam, K. Gopalakrishnan, P. Phoobalan, J. Sridhar, M. Vijay Anand 6.5 each, 15. E. P. Nirmal 6. — Arvind Aaron

Salem players dominate

SALEM youngsters dominated the Ramco Tamil Nadu State sub-junior chess championships for boys and girls held at the Hall of Chess, Nehru Stadium, Chennai recently.

The top two seeds in the 29th Tamil Nadu State sub-junior championship for the V.L. Ethiraj Memorial trophy, S. Arun Prasad and T. Abhay (both from Salem) finished first and second, respectively. And in the Ramco 17th Tamil Nadu State sub-junior girls' championship for the Arasan Kalyanasundari Ammal Gurusamy Trophy, P. Sivasankari of Thiruvallur District became the new sub-junior champion when the ninth and final round concluded. The two strong Salem girls, top seeded L. Ishwarya Shobana and P. K. Jayashree finished second and third, respectively.

After losing to T. Abhay, Arun Prasad ruthlessly crushed the others to finish one clear point ahead of Abhay who got bogged down in a number of draws. Arun Prasad displayed greater will power and ambition.

This inner fire for first place was missing in the girls champion. Second seeded P. Sivasankari had a tame draw with S. Harini in the last round to become champion while the two best girls of Salem, P. K. Jayashree and top seed L. Ishwarya Shobana (a former National U-12 girls champion) split the points on the next table.

Arun Prasad's victory was expected. He was the runner-up in the National junior (Under-19) championship. He has also won three state titles in the last 15 months. He is of IM (International Master) calibre and one would not be surprised if he becomes Tamil Nadu's next IM. He is coached by his father, T. Subramaniam, a Telecom employee.

Sivasankari from Thiruvallur District is in 10th standard at the chess and sports loving Velammal Matriculation School, Mogappair, Chennai. Earlier, she had won the TN State U-12 Championship in 2002. She is a consistent prize-winner in state and National championships.

She is being helped by the ICF stars T. J. Suresh Kumar and Syed Anwar Shazuli. Her younger sister, P. Uthara has also won a state title in the past and is a strong player.

Bharath Munnoth, Managing Director of Munnoth Financial Services, gave away the prizes. S. Balachandran, President of the Chennai District Chess Association presided over the function while V. Kameswaran, Vice President of the Tamil Nadu Chess Association offered felicitations.

Final standings (Boys): 1. S. Arun Prasad 8: 2-4. T. Abhay, K. V. Venprakash, G. Balachandar 7; 5-10. M. M. Anandraj (Che), Sa. Kannan (Siv), S. Narendrakumar (Che), R. Premnath (Kan), Nishaanth (NLC), M. Gopikrishna (Kiruba CA) 6.5; 11-14. Dyal K. Aditya (Tvlr), R. Muthuprakash (KK), N. Srinath (Che), R. Arun Karthik (Tvlr) 6; 15-27. P. Saravanakrishnan (Kan), R. Rajesh (Che), N. Surendran (TN Teachers), B. Adhiban (Che), S. M. Syed Moosa (Che), P. Karthikeyan (Che), R. Aswath (Che), M. Subachandran (KK), Sp. Sethuraman (Che), Al. Palaniappan (Vishy Anand CA), C. V. Raghuram Balaji (Chromepet CI), S. Sriprasanth (Vnr), S. Sathyanarayanan (Siv) 5.5.

Final standings (girls): 1. P. Sivasankari (Tvlr) 8; 2. L. Iswarya Shobana (Slm) 7.5; 3-7. P. K. Jayashree (Slm), S. Harini (Kan), K. Radhika (Tvlr) A. Sithalatchumi (SPF), K.E.R. Ranjitha (Che); 8-11. L. Sudarshana (Slm), Kiruba H. Arasu (Kiruba CA), Pon N. Krithika (Kan), P. Uthara (Tvlr) 6; 12-16. R. Preethi (Kiruba CA), J. Rajasurya (Mdu), R. Sharanya (TN Teachers), S. Bharathi (NLC), K. Mrunalini (Che) 5.5. — Manuel Aaron.