Sethuraman strikes it rich

Grandmaster S.P. Sethuraman (left), who won the title, and V. Varun, who triumphed in the Category B tournament.-K.RAMESH BABU Grandmaster S.P. Sethuraman (left), who won the title, and V. Varun, who triumphed in the Category B tournament.

The Chennai-based Grandmaster tied for the top place with 8.5 points with top-seeded Ivan Popov of Russia, but was declared winner by virtue of a better Buchholz tie-break score, writes V.V. Subrahmanyam.

When S. P. Sethuraman, 20, of ONGC won the second Hyderabad International Grandmasters chess tournament with 8.5 points, his joy knew no bounds.

“It is never easy to win a GM tournament in India because you see so many high quality players here. This is a very significant win as I chase my dream to qualify for the World Cup,” said the soft-spoken Sethuraman, a great admirer of Bobby Fischer.

In the final round, this Chennai-based Grandmaster settled for a draw against GM Merab Gagunashvili of Georgia. Sethuraman tied for the top place with 8.5 points with top-seeded Ivan Popov of Russia, but was declared winner by virtue of a better Buchholz tie-break score.

“Yes, this is the second major title for me this year, having won the Leiden Open in The Netherlands in July. I am pleased with the way I have played in this event which I entered without any expectations. I just wanted to play to my potential,” said the former World under-16 champion.

Sethuraman is also pleased with the fact that he will improve his Elo points from 2553 to 2572 after the win in Hyderabad. “That is why these kinds of tournaments are so important for the Indian players. I am really pleased that there are more GM tournaments now, thanks to the recent World Championship in Chennai,” said Sethuraman.

After his latest triumph, Sethuraman’s first target is to break into the Elo 2700-plus category and then represent India in the World Cup. Sethuraman who was first trained by R. B. Ramesh, P. Konguvel, then by Goloschapob of Ukraine and later by Chuchelov of Belgium, owes his chess career to the unstinted support of his mother P. Deivani who used to accompany him in his formative years, and his father Panaiappan who was himself a former National B player. For the time being, Sethuraman is happy with the title-triumph and the winner’s purse of Rs. 2 lakh.

In the Category B tournament which was held simultaneously, it was a remarkable success story for Vaddepalli Varun.

Son of V. Bikshapathi and V. Padmaja, who are tailors by profession, the 16-year-old surprised many by stitching together a wonderful combination of moves right through the event to emerge champion with 8.5 points. He settled for a draw against State-mate B. Ramana Babu and collected the winner’s purse of Rs. 1 lakh.

Seeded third, the unobtrusive and very shy Varun, an Intermediate student of Ratna Junior College in Hyderabad, was the star attraction at the valedictory function. For him, it was a different and pleasant experience hogging the limelight.

Coached by Venu Madhav, Varun’s other major title in his brief career was the below Elo 2200 category event organised by the A2H Academy.

“Honestly, I did not think too much about the chances here. I just wanted to enjoy my game and I am definitely pleased with the result,” Varun said, without showing any emotions.

“Yes, I want to keep improving and practise hard to make a mark for myself,” he said. He was visibly touched by the gesture of GM Dronavalli Harika who walked across to greet him on winning the title.

The event was jointly-sponsored by ONGC, Mahindra Ecole Centrale, Andhra Bank, Petronet LNG Ltd and Airports Authority of India. A. S. Murthy, Chief Technology Officer, Tech Mahindra, Jayesh Ranjan, IAS, VC & MD of APIIC, Rahul Bojja, VC & MD of SAAP, gave away the prizes.

In a welcome gesture, GMs Krishnan Sasikiran and Dronavalli Harika were felicitated during the valedictory function.

Final placings

GM tournament: 1. S. P. Sethuraman (Ind) 8.5; 2. Ivan Popov (Rus) 8.5; 3. Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 8; 4. Mikhail Mozharov (Rus) 8; 5. Levan Pantsulaia (Geo) 7.5.

Category B: 1. V. Varun (AP) 8.5; 2. Vishwanath Prasad (AP) 8; 3. Naveen S. Hegde (Kar) 8; 4. Sammed Jaykumar Shete (Maha) 8; 5. N. Lokesh (TN) 7.5.