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Akshayakalpa Karnataka State 2018: Girish Koushik is the richest state champion in the history of Indian chess!

by Sagar Shah - 20/04/2018

When it comes to controlling one's nerves, there is no one better than Girish Koushik. The youngster from Bangalore was lost in his final round game against Thejkumar, but he hung on and took home the glittering trophy, Rs.1,00,000 and the title of Akshayakalpa Karnataka State Champion 2018. He is the richest state champion ever in the history of Indian chess. Girish did a lot of hard work on the final day by drawing Thej in the last round and beating Stany in the penultimate one. Second place went to Thejkumar and Ojas Kulkarni was third. A comprehensive report with analysis of the key games.

At the end of five grueling days of chess, Girish Koushik became the Akshayakalpa Karnataka State Champion 2018! | Photo: Niklesh Jain

But hey, aren't we getting ahead of ourselves? The last two rounds were filled with so many interesting points that it would be highly instructive to go over them and see how a top class player like Girish kept his nerves on a day when he faced the top two seeds Stany and Thejkumar.

Pairings of round 9

11GMThejkumar M. S.24931 - 0WCMIsha Sharma192619
23IMGirish A. Koushik24011 - 0IMStany G.A.24932
36Ojas Kulkarni225271 - 07Dilip Kumar Pedda165345
417Kishan Gangolli19747½ - ½7Kulkarni Vinayak21798
574Kalki Eshwar DU14151570 - 17Balkishan A.202613

Fully focussed for the big bout - Girish had the white pieces against Stany| Photo: Amruta Mokal

We all know that Stany is an extremely aggressive player. In such a situation there is an inclination to play solid against him, take him out of his comfort zone. But there is also a theory that aggressive players feel the most uncomfortable when you aim at their king. Girish did just that. He attacked with all his might and made Stany go wrong. It was perhaps a flawless game by Girish which gave him the win. Let's go over this crucial encounter:

Girish went for the aggressive setup beginning with 3.f3!

With the move h4! Girish made sure to let Stany know that he was going for his opponent's king!

Stany's ...Qc7 turned out to be the real error as it was just not in the spirit of the position. Girish managed to take on f6, put the other knight on e4, complete his development and then push on with h5.

The position of the kings says it all. Girish managed to win a very nice game.

The final encounter:

Thejkumar had a relatively easier round nine as he won with the white pieces against Isha Sharma. Now with both Girish and Thej on 8.5/9, we were looking at a mouth-watering final round clash. Girish had the white pieces, but it seemed Thej had a small edge in terms of buch-holz as he was half a point ahead of Girish (51.5 versus Girish's 51).

The game that would decide the champion of the event - Girish Koushik vs Thejkumar | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Girish started from where he had left off against Stany. He attacked Thej with all his might. But Thejkumar in general defended much better and extinguished all of Girish's active possibilities. All of Girish's ingenious attacking ideas were not enough to breakthrough Thejkumar's defences. The only GM of Karnataka repelled the attack and seemed very close to victory when he blundered big time in the endgame and the game ended in a draw. "I didn't know that I was winning during the game. After the game when everyone told me about the chance I had missed, I was quite sad," said Thejkumar. Let's have a look at the most critical moments of the game:

White Thej was busy with his play on the queenside with ...b5-b4, Girish decided to open up the kingside with g4-g5!

The attack didn't really go far as Thejkumar managed to claim the f5 square for his pieces.

But Girish was not going to give up. He put all his energy to somehow try to get to the black king!

Thejkumar's counter exchange sacrifice was a very good practical decision.

In the endgame that arose, Black was just better and close to winning. Look at his well placed pieces!

In time pressure Thejkumar went completely wrong with the move ...a5. He could have just played Ne1 or Nd4 and won the game. But instead he chose to push his a-pawn and this gave Girish a big opportunity.

b4! Girish did not miss his opportunity and the a-pawn was powerful enough to spoil all of Thejkumar's plan

Final rankings after round 10

Rk.SNoNameTypsexRtgClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
13IMGirish A. Koushik2401Mys9,00,065,574,5
21GMThejkumar M. S.2493Mys9,00,064,073,0
36Ojas Kulkarni2252Blu9,00,061,069,0
44Sanjay N.2346Blu8,50,063,071,0
52IMStany G.A.2493Shi8,50,061,070,0
69Arvind Shastry2175Blu8,50,061,070,0
724Jagadish PU161894Blu8,50,057,064,5
812Augustin A2065Kod8,50,056,565,5
914Gavi Siddayya1993Blu8,50,056,063,5
107Yashas D.2243Shi8,00,062,571,5
1118Santoshkashyap Hg1929Blu8,00,061,570,0
1213Balkishan A.2026Blu8,00,061,070,0
1317Kishan Gangolli1974Shi8,00,059,567,5
1441Avinash Vaidyanathan1683Blu8,00,059,068,0
1510IMHegde Ravi Gopal2139Blu8,00,058,566,5
1616Manjunath J.1986Blu8,00,058,067,0
175Gahan M G2281Dka8,00,058,065,5
1825Sudarshan Bhat1892Blu8,00,056,064,5
1936Keshav KothariU141715Blu8,00,056,064,0
2035Rakshith R Umesh1728Shi8,00,055,564,0

Complete list of final standings

Girish with his winner's trophy and the first prize of Rs.1,00,000. Manish Mohite who did the daily press releases catches the champion for a few quick questions before she files her report. | Photo: Niklesh Jain
Niklesh Jain interviews Girish Koushik after his Karnataka State Championship victory. "This is the biggest trophy that I have ever won", says Girish!

So close, yet so far! Thejkumar could have won the winner's trophy, but had to settle for the second place and Rs.75,000 | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Ojas Kulkarni was the second runner-up of the event and took home Rs.50,000 | Photo: Niklesh Jain

N. Sanjay was the fourth seed, and finished fourth in the tournament | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Stany, the top seed, would have definitely hoped for a better finish, but fifth place and a lot of lesson learned is not a bad bargain! | Photo: Niklesh Jain

In spite of all the pressures of being the UKCA Secretary, Arvind Shastry managed to finish sixth with 8.5/10 | Photo: Amruta Mokal | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Isha Sharma was the best woman player at the event | Photo: Niklesh Jain

An arbiter's tournament was held during the tournament and it was won by Darshan VPS. Playchess Head Halsagar Chincholimath gives away the prizes. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Managing 900 players is never an easy task. Especially on the first day when there were so many players who didn't turn up. But chief arbiter Vasanth is a class act. He ensured that the tournament was conducted in the smoothest possible manner! | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Innovators Chess Academy worked hard to make this tournament a success. The team consisted of Sushrutha Reddy (right), Hariharan Subramony, Karthik Shetty, Gavi Siddayya and Sanjay Sindhia | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Priyadarshan Banjan with Hinduja. Banjan worked with the branding of the event and taking care of the finer points related to daily shows by various important personalities.

The Karnataka State tournament provided a platform to the veterans to show their skills.... | Photo: Niklesh Jain

...and also to the youngsters! | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Mukund Naidu is one of the finest artisan cheese makers in our country. He joined Akshayakalpa recently and has produced some very fine handcrafted cheese. | Photo: Amruta Mokal
We caught up with Mukund Naidu to ask him about the art of cheese making, how can one learn it, is cheese good for health, and many more questions

Because of the double rounds I wasn't able to conduct too many interviews, but Karnataka is a hotbed of talented youngsters. A few months ago Sushrutha Reddy wrote two beautiful articles - Future Grandmasters of Karnataka Part I and II, and I could see almost all of the names in those article shining at the State tournament. I was able to catch one of the youngest stars - eight-year-old Mitul KH.

Mitul KH shows his eighth round win over his opponent. Listen to his explanations where he speaks about the ideas behind his various moves

This one boy is someone that you have to watch out for. Arnav Muralidhar finished the highest among under-10 players and gained a whopping 110 Elo points. | Photo: Amruta Mokal
One more talent - Abhyuday Santosh. He works for 24 hours a week and when he has no school, it goes to 48!

The Akshayakalpa support:

The support of Akshayakalpa towards making chess a financially powerful sport was seen in a big way at the Akshayakalpa State tournament. The prize fund was Rs.10 lakh, unheard of in state level tournaments, but their total expenditure to stage this entire event was nearly Rs.40 lakhs. Sponsors fund an event with an aim to achieve some of their marketing aims. We, as a chess community, must respect that and ensure that we support them in the best possible manner. Only then will more corporate sponsorship flow into the game and all the elements of the game including players, organizers, arbiters, media will flourish. A question that I have been regularly asked by players is "How can we help in retaining or making the sponsors happy?" Well as a starter, if you did enjoy the tournament, you can definitely go up to the sponsor and thank him for his contribution!


Speaking to CEO Shashi Kumar after the end of the tournament I could sense that he wasn't 100% satisfied with the outcome of the event. "Our goals have been achieved partially," he said. "We have a ten year road map and we will keep supporting the game of chess." As a person who has played chess tournaments where the first prize was just Rs.10,000 and the total prize fund Rs.1,00,000, I can only hope that sponsors like Akshayakalpa are not lost. They are critical to ensure the growth of the game of chess.

Interview with CEO Shashi Kumar at the conclusion of the Akshayakalpa Karnataka State Championship 2018

A small token of appreciation from Team ChessBase India for the work Shashi Kumar has done for the game of chess. Those are a few of our accessories given by the Accessories manager Supriya Bhat | Photo: Amruta Mokal

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