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Anton Sitnikov triumphs at 15th Tamil Nadu IM-norm Closed Circuit 2024, Karthik Rajaa second

by V Vijayaraghavan - 21/02/2024

IM Anton Sitnikov scored an unbeaten 7.5/9 to win 15th Tamil Nadu IM-norm Closed Circuit Chess Tournament 2024. He finished a full point ahead of the field. The winner of the 13th edition, FM Karthik Rajaa scored 6.5/9 to secure second place. GM Manik Mikulas (SVK) scored an unbeaten 6/9 to finish third. The six-day ten-player round robin tournament was organized by Tamil Nadu State Chess Association at Hotel Applettree in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu from 23rd to 28th January 2024. Tournament Coordinator and Chief Arbiter - IA V Vijayaraghavan writes the tournament report. Photos: IA V Vijayaraghavan

No tie-breaks needed for top seven

The six-day event of 15th TN IM-norm Closed Circuit Chess Tournament was held at Hotel Appletree, Tirunelveli. The town also known as Nellai, is a major city in Tamilnadu. The famous Nellaiappar temple is in Tirunelveli town, and it depicts the architecture & culture under the Pandya Kings. Tirunelveli Halwa is a popular sweet prepared in wheat, ghee & sugar and bears the name of this town.

Winner - IM Anton Sitnikov (UKR) 7.5/9

IM Anton Sitnikov, won the event with 7.5 points out of 9 rounds. He scored six wins and three draws to win the tournament comfortably. En route his win he beat IMs Olivier Touzane (FRA), David Gochelashvili, K Murugan, FM Karthik Rajaa, Ibrahim M Dusthageer, Nihal Swarna and drew against GM Manik Mikulas (SVK), IM Sevan Buscara (FRA) and N Surendran.


FM Karthik Rajaa finished second on 6.5 points and GM Manik Mikulas finished third on 6 points.

Top 3 (L to R): 3rd GM Manik Mikulas (SVK) 6/9, 1st IM Anton Sitnikov (UKR) 7.5/9 and 2nd FM Karthik Rajaa 6.5/9

The participants with the tournament officials

Mr. M Ramchandran, District Judge and President of Tirunelveli District Chess Development Association making the inaugural first move against Grandmaster Manik Mikulas

Gochelashvili - Sitnikov, Round 4

Position after 15.Nxd4

In this position, IM Anton Sitnikov played the strong 15...Rxh1+! 16.Kxh1 Bxd4 17.Kg2 Rd8 18.Qb3 Bh3+ 19.Kg1 and the hunt started.

Position after 19.Kg1

Find out the winning continuation for Black after 19.Kg1

Sitnikov - Murugan, Round 5

Position after 16...Rd7

Here Black’s king is looking for a safe haven, but White uncorked a nasty 17.Nb5! Qa5 18.Bxc6 bxc6 19.Qh5+ Kd8 20.Qxe5. The threat of Qb8 and Qxe6 forced Murugan to resign. With this win Anton raced to 5/5.

Sitnikov - Karthik, Round 7

Position after 3.d3

1. e4 c6 2. Nf3 d5 Anton opted for a rare 3. d3?! Which allows exchange of queens and fizzles out any opening advantage white have. Probably he wanted to take the youngster out of the book.

Position after 31.Bd3

Karthik trying to complicate, played 31...Kd7?! which turned out to be a mistake. The game continued 32.g4 g5 33.hxg5 fxg5 34.e5 gxf4 35.Kxf4 Nf7 36.Bf5+ Ke7 37.Rd1 Rd8 38.Rxd8 Nxd8 39.Bxh7 e6+ 40.Ke3 Nc7 41.Bg8 b6 42.Kd4 Na6 43.a3 c5+ 44.bxc5 Nxc5 45.g5 Nd7 46.g6 Kf8 47.Be6 Nc5 48.Bd5 Kg7 49.e6 Na6 50.e7 Nc7 51.Bf7 1-0

This victory almost assured Anton of the title at 6.5 points from 7 rounds.

IMs David, Buscara and Olivier enjoying the Kutralam falls with IAs Uma Maheswaran and Selvamanikandan

The energetic Kutralam water falls

Karthik - Surendran, Round 2

Position after 22...d4!

The game continued 23.exd4 Rxd4 24.Qc2 Rxf4 25.Ne4 Bb6+ 26.Kh1 Rc8?

Position after 26.Kh1

26...Rxf3 is what Black needed to play 27.gxf3 Nxe4 28.fxe4 f5 maintains decisive advantage for Black. 26...Rc8? 27.Nxf6+ Rxf6?? turned things in White's favor 28.Bxf6+- and White went on to win the game.

Dinner hosted Mr. Paulkumar for all participants and officials

Replay all games

Final standings

Rk.SNoNameFEDRtgClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 Krtg+/-
17IMSitnikov, AntonUKR2356UKRAINE7,5029,75631016,4
21FMKarthik, RajaaIND2289INDIA6,5024,00522030,2
33GMManik, MikulasSVK2342SLOVAKIA6023,2531103,2
410IMGochelashvili, DavidRUS2287RUSSIA5,5019,0041105,4
52Surendran, NIND2177INDIA5018,75422029,8
69IMBuscara, SevanFRA2359FRANCE4,5018,003310-13,9
74Dusthageer, Ibrahim M.IND2098INDIA3,5012,75312019,6
85IMTouzane, OlivierFRA2242FRANCE2,517,752110-18,5
96Swarna, NihalIND2131INDIA2,5010,001140-17,2
108IMMurugan, KrishnamoorthyIND2238INDIA1,504,751010-28,1


About the Author

V Vijayaraghavan is an International Arbiter and Vice President of Tamil Nadu State Chess Association. He was also the Tournament Coordinator for 13th and 14th Tamil Nadu IM-norm Closed Circuit Tournaments. 


The report was edited by Shahid Ahmed

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