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Goa GM 2019 Round 1: Grandeur with a personal touch!

by Sagar Shah - 19/06/2019

Chess organization just like anything else is all about identifying your weaknesses and mistakes, working on them and becoming better. That's what the team at Goa International Open Grandmaster Chess tournament 2019 are doing. They are simply competing with themselves. Speak to team and the unanimous answer that you would get is - "We would like to give the players a better experience than what they had in 2018." No wonder they have record number of GM participation with 35 GMs fighting it out in the A-group. 29 IMs are also in the fray, with players from 23 countries taking part and a rating average of 2182. Those are some brilliant numbers. We bring you the round one report along with some exciting pictures and video interviews!

The first word that comes to your mind when you enter the premises of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Stadium is - GRAND! But grandeur without the personal touch is pointless. At the Goa GM International 2019, the organizers have managed to combine both the things in a perfect way.

Once you enter the playing arena, the chess vibe just hits you!

The chess set that was specially made for the opening ceremony!

Top 30 boards of the event have the new DGT chess set which look quite classy as well!

For all the players, be it in A or B group, ample space is provided and one board is accommodated on one table! You simply enjoy playing chess when it is not very crowded!

The cover of the scoresheet book that is given to all the players

When you open the above scorebook, the first page is meant as the "Request for Participation certificate"

This is the thing which is most impressive about the Goa organizing team. The team is completely dedicated in giving their all for a high class event. They aren't competing with any other tournament in Indian chess. They are more concerned about improving themselves. In 2018 they had printed 1200+ certificates for all the participants. At the end they were left with nearly 800-900 certificates which were not collected. How do you solve this problem? Well, inside the scorebook is the above page - "An initiative to save paper!" Only those who will write their names and submit this sheet will get the certificate!

Enough volunteers and personnel ensured that the registration process was done smoothly without any hiccups

The players have played their game and left, but the arbiters are sitting there and deciding on how they can do a better job today. They leave after the players, they arrive before them! Hats off to these hard workers!
Usually when a tournament of this magnitude is organized - 450+ players in B group, 246 in A group, you would imagine that things would take time to settle down on the first day. But everything was in perfect order as you can see from the video above which was shot at 10.30 a.m., one hour after the games began! This shows the efficient work done by the organizers. 

The opening ceremony

The tournament was opened by Nilesh Cabral's 1.e4. Top seed Iturrizaga replied with the Sicilian!

The spectators were treated to some fine traditional Indian dance at the opening ceremony

A very nice gesture on the part of the organizers was to invite all the GMs on the stage at the opening ceremony

What is this button for?

Quite a novel way to unveil the trophies!

The Power Minister and President of Goa Chess Association Nilesh Cabral (right) with Sekhar Sahu, Vice President AICF

Since the first edition of Goa GM in October 2018, I heard many times people saying that the President of Goa Chess Association Nilesh Cabral is very dynamic. What does this word dynamic mean? Well, for Goa Chess Association, they couldn't have found a better leader. He is all the time action oriented. If you suggest him a good idea and he finds it appropriate he doesn't hesitate to implement it immediately. He is a man of action and at all times is looking for improvements in how things can be organized. In 2018, he had a dream that a GM tournament should be organized in Goa - that did happen. In 2019, he had the ambition that highest number of GMs should participate, and even this happened! Well, one can only wish that the Goa GM International continues in the years to come. Because if they do, we are sure to witness many firsts in Indian chess happening at the event!

The man who makes sure that things are executed in the best possible manner - Secretary of Goa Chess Association Kishor Bandekar


Round 1

The biggest upset of round 1 was Ram S Krishnan winning against Aleksandrov Aleksej (2588). Ram, who is an IM-elect from Tamil Nadu, has recently lost quite a bit of rating and has come down to 2152. But those who have played him in the past, know that he is a force to be reckoned with. Aleksandrov clearly underestimated him. The Belarussian GM played a poor opening and never really got a chance to come back in the game!

The biggest upset in round one was Ram S Krishnan winning against Aleksej Aleksandrov

Ram Krishnan vs Aleksandrov Aleksej

Taking ...bxc5 was a clear mistake by Aleksandrov as after...

dxc5! White is clearly better. All of his pieces are active while Black doesn't know what he should be doing with his pieces!

After the game we speak to Ram about his win over Aleksandrov Aleksej (2588). Ram makes quite some revealing statements in the interview, one of them being - it is difficult to even win a district championship these days in Tamil Nadu!

Idani Pouya is the defending champion and he was in good form right from day one. Look at how he calculated all the details accurately and defeated R. Rathneesh

Eduardo Iturrizaga is the top seed of the tournament and would be looking forward to winning his first tournament on Indian soil

Levan Pantsualai had a tough time in round one, but somehow managed to beat WIM Angela Franco

It's nice to see India's youngest GM D. Gukesh back on the chess board in India. This is Gukesh's first tournament in India after he became a GM. He was up against Aashna Makhija in round one.

Gukesh D vs Aashna Makhija, Round 1

I like this move very much. After the game I asked Gukesh what was the point of this move and he said, it was just a pure waiting move! He had no real idea. To make such a move on the board knowing the fact that it does nothing much shows a very good level of understanding.

Youngster Manish Anto Cristiano from Tamil Nadu scored a fine win over GM Karthik Venkatraman. In a Sicilian Najdorf, Karthik played a very risky opening with black. Manish gave his opponent absolutely no chances throughout the game and was extremely clinical

After scoring his IM norm at the Mumbai Mayor's Cup, Balkishan refuses to slow down. He beat GM R.R. Laxman in round one here! Look at the nice exchange sacrifice by the 26-year-old Karnataka player.

Himanshu Sharma was the fourth GM casualty (after Aleksandrov, Karthik and Laxman) of the day as he went down to Karthik Rajaa. In a Caro Kann that looked quite pleasant for White, Himanshu's king was all of a sudden subjected to a very strong mating attack.

The newly married S. Nitin with his better half Aarthi Govindan. Nitin won his first round game in A group, while Aarthi is on 3.0/3 in the B-category. A good start for the couple!

Results of round 1

Bo.No. NameRtgPts. ResultPts. NameRtg No.
1124FMRamakrishna J. 21710 0 - 10 GMIturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo 26371
22GMPantsulaia Levan 26140 1 - 00 WIMFranco Valencia Angela 2169125
3126Godbole Atharva 21650 0 - 10 GMTer-Sahakyan Samvel 26113
44GMMchedlishvili Mikheil 26090 1 - 00 FMHarshal Shahi 2161127
5128FMSingh Rishpal S 21610 0 - 10 GMGupta Abhijeet 26065
66GMIdani Pouya 25970 1 - 00 Rathneesh R 2160129
7130Ram S. Krishnan 21520 1 - 00 GMAleksandrov Aleksej 25887
88GMStupak Kirill 25840 1 - 00 WCMIsha Sharma 2151131
9132FMRamu K. 21360 0 - 10 GMJojua Davit 25809
1010GMTurov Maxim 25790 1 - 00 Manigandan S S 2131133



The B group had a tough day one with three rounds being held. The time control was 60 minutes + 30 seconds increment. There are 456 participants in all. We have 32 leaders with 3.0/3. The tournament promises to get exciting on the second day.

Rank after three rounds

Rk.SNo NameTypsexRtgClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4  TB5 
Pradeep Tiwari1972DASCB3,00,04,06,06,003
Kadav Omkar1941MAH3,00,04,06,06,003
Vijay Anand M.1855TN3,00,04,06,06,003
Bartakke Aditya1740MAH3,00,04,06,06,003
Nepal Prakash1985NEP3,00,04,05,55,503
Shubham Shukla1958PUN3,00,04,05,55,503
Verma Rahul1876MAH3,00,04,05,55,503
Uma Maheswaran P1836TN3,00,04,05,55,503
Srikanth K.1951IAF3,00,04,05,05,003
Selvamurugan B1929TN3,00,04,05,05,003
Koustav Chakraborty1906WB3,00,04,05,05,003
Rishabh Nishad1903UP3,00,04,05,05,003
Joy Lazar M.A.S501880KER3,00,04,05,05,003
Abhishek T M1862KER3,00,04,05,05,003
Karthikeyan J.1838TN3,00,04,05,05,003
Mraduhas Tripathi1826MP3,00,04,05,05,003
Sanjay Chhabra1778DEL3,00,04,05,05,003
Mughaho Awomi1750NAG3,00,04,05,05,003
Shiva S1705KAR3,00,04,05,05,003
Sushrutha Reddy1608KAR3,00,04,05,05,003
Mrithyunjay MahadevanU111473TN3,00,04,04,54,503
WCMChopdekar GunjalF15w1533GOA3,00,04,04,04,003
Aditya Varun GampaU131906TEL3,00,03,54,54,503
Sanchit Anand1864DEL3,00,03,54,54,503
Akshay Anand1863PUN3,00,03,54,54,503
Sharsha Backer1858KER3,00,03,54,54,503
Abdul Majeed N.S501762KER3,00,03,54,54,503
Adireddy TarunU131682TEL3,00,03,54,54,503
Ragesh Sarma.M1592TN3,00,03,53,53,503
Aarthi GSw1795TN3,00,03,04,04,003
Shreyas M1637TN3,00,03,04,04,003

ChessBase India at the venue:

ChessBase India has a big knowledge stall at the venue with softwares and books available on sale

You can't afford to miss these new designs! The stall is situated near the main entrance of the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee stadium.

The seven member ChessBase India team at Goa (left to right) - Shahid Ahmed, Avathanshu Bhat, Supriya Bhat, Amruta Mokal, Sagar Shah, Niklesh Jain, Nongsha Angom

ChessBase India has launched its new Android App. Be among the first ones to use it - Download it from here

All photos by Niklesh Jain

Live games on 19th June from 9.30 a.m. onwards

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