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India's Got Chess Talent -The Finale

by Aditya Sur Roy - 18/09/2022

In life, we often plan something but life always has something else planned for us. That's the best way to describe the finale of the first edition of India's Got Chess Talent. Four teams battled it out to be the winners of the first edition of India's Got Chess Talent. Team Debashis Das was paired against Team Chess Delphinus and Team Chess Pathshala was up against Team Wings of Fire in the semi-finals. The winners went through to the finals to face each other for the championship. In this article, we give you a detailed report of this beautiful event.

It all began in January 2022, when Sagar Shah the founder of ChessBase India, launched the first edition of India's Got Chess Talent. ChessBase India has always tried to help the chess community improve at chess! With "India's Got Chess Talent" the idea was to help the players in the chess community improve at the game.

The announcement video of India's got chess talent. Read the complete article here.

More than five hundred applications were submitted within the next few days, and the major task of finding the top thirty-two players began. When I was asked by Sagar to come on board for the project and take it forward, it was an overwhelming feeling. We sat down and brainstormed the best possible ways to shortlist the candidates. Initially, we wanted to select the top one hundred and then eventually narrow our search. We never knew that this would be such a difficult task, as there were so many applications of top quality. While going through the applications, we could feel the need for good training, direction, and guidance.

It took us some time, but after carefully going through every application, we were able to shortlist 50 candidates. Then we decided to call each and every participant and get a chance to know them better and understand their passion for the game. In this process, we, unfortunately, could not go forward with many applications as the contact information mentioned in the forms was incorrect or they did not answer the calls. We took a second step of even emailing them but hardly any luck. That led us to contact some more of the applicants and thus the final thirty-two candidates were selected. The youngest candidate is just eight years old and the eldest is forty-two years.

Shrihaan Karmakar is just eight years old and Amit Jagwani is aged 42. To learn all about the teams and their members, check out this article.

Finally, the four teams were assigned to their designated captains and mentors and the finals were all set to be on the 13th of September, 2022. Before the finals, each team had training sessions with their respective coaches.

India's Got Chess Talent | Team Debashis Das | E01
India's Got Chess Talent | Team Wings of Fire | GM Shyam Sundar | E02
India's Got Chess Talent | Chess Pathshala | GM Swapnil Dhopade | E03
India's Got Chess Talent | Team Delphinus | GM Swayams Mishra | E04

The first semi-final started at 7 PM IST between Team Chess Pathshala and Team Wings of fire. GM Shyam Sundar Mohanraj, coach of Team Wings of fire, attended the stream from a beautiful beach in Romania! He was in a very busy schedule - coaching the Indian team in World Youth at Romania, playing the MPL Indian Chess tour, but he was still completely dedicated to this event! It was a very exciting match between the two teams, evenly matched throughout. It was never clear who would win the battle till it ended!

Team Debashis Das was paired against Team Chess Delphinus and Team Chess Pathshala was up against Team Wings of Fire in the semi-finals. The winners went through to the finals to face each other for the championship.

Team Chess Pathshala vs Team Wings of Fire

Team Chess Pathshala scored the first victory of the match. Shubhi Gupta (1713) from Team Chess Pathshala defeated Om Prajapati (1352) with the Black pieces, setting up a devious trap early in the game.

Position after 11. Nd6. Can you spot what's wrong with the most natural-looking move for White?

Oblivious to danger, Om just took a pawn with 12. Nxc5. But this is a huge blunder as Shubhi played 12...Qa5+! and it's just a simple fork winning the Knight. Shubhi went on to convert the game comfortably into a win. GM Swapnil Dhopade mentioned that he really liked Shubhi's idea of rerouting her knight from f6-e4-d6. Another interesting fact to know is that Shubhi Gupta left for Batumi the day after the finals. She is representing Team India in the U-12 category at World Cadets 2022!

The second result of the match also went to Team Chess Pathshala's favor - this time, it was Kunal Gupta who took down Tizya Kumar from Wings of Fire. Kunal got the advantage early from the opening, and converted it very smoothly. Swapnil was elated, it seemed Team Chess Pathshala was off to a great start! But Shyam's team struck back almost immediately, Debapriya Manna (1479) scored a dominating victory against Prathiba PI.

The score was now 2-1 in favor of Team Chess Pathshala. Debapriya started the comeback for Team Wings of Fire! Photo: ChessBase India live stream.

M.S. Nawin (1851) from Wings of Fire levelled the score at 2-2 by producing a nice victory over Nirnay Garg (1768). Nawin got a great position out of the opening, and Nirnay couldn't figure out the best continuation.

Position after 21...Nb6, the decisive error.

Nawin found the winning combination starting with 22. Ne4! Qf4 23. Rg4 Qf5 24. Qh4! h6 25. Nf6+, winning an exchange and continuing a devastating attack on the Black king. Nirnay went on to resign in a few more moves.

After this game, 2 results came in quick succession in favor of Team Wings of Fire. The score is now 4-2! Amit Jagwani (1274) defeated Ameena NK (1015), where the latter lost on time in a hopeless position. In the other game, Manmay Chopra (2027) from Shyam's team pulled off a swindle and defeated Bhavik Ahuja (2115). Bhavik had a much better position with the white pieces, but couldn't convert his advantage and landed on an equal Bishop ending.

Position after 40.c3. 

This was the decisive error by Bhavik. Black found a nice sequence to gain a winning advantage: 40...Bc2! 41.Bc4 Bd1! 42. Be2 Bxb3, you can't save both the b-pawn and the g-pawn. Manmay went on to convert the pawn up ending without any problems.

The last 2 games were drawn- Karthik S from Team Chess Pathshala drew against Abhinav Bhatt in a very topsy-turvy game, while Mitul KH from Wings of Fire pulled off a major swindle by saving a completely lost position against Raj Pandya. Team Wings of Fire pulled off a 5-3 win against Team Chess Pathshala!

Team Wings of Fire vs Team Chess Pathshala: 5-3

When asked about the critical moment of the match, GM Shyam Sundar (Coach of Team Wings of fire) mentioned Mitul's draw against Raj Pandya was very important. GM Swapnil Dhopade (Coach of Team Chess Pathshala) said that he was happy with the Team's play overall, but they need work in converting better positions. He is already looking forward to the next edition of India's got chess talent! Both Swapnil and Shyam mentioned that the training will not stop with this event- whenever the team members require any chess advice, they are happy to help!

Team Delphinus vs Team Debashis Das

Honi Arora from Team Debashis Das was the first player to strike- he defeated Vaibhav Gautam from Team Wings of Fire with the white pieces to take a 1-0 lead.

White to play, can you figure out how Honi continued from this position?

Honi played the very nice move 24. Nf5! , forcing mate in a few moves. In the game, Vaibhav continued with 24...Qxe5, but now comes 25. Rh3! Rfc8 26. Qxh7+ Kf8 27. Qh8+ followed by Rxh8+ mate.

However, the 1-0 lead didn't last for long -25-year-old Supriya Gupta from Team Delphinus equalized the score 1-1 by producing a nice win against Shrihaan Karmakar. Ujaan Bhattacharya and Hemal Varshan Andalamala piled on to the lead by producing 2 more wins for Team Debashis Das, now making the score 1-3. Ujaan played a very smooth game to defeat Ritvik, he got an advantage out of the opening and never let go of it. Andalamala pulled off a big swindle to defeat Navye Anand. Navye had a winning position with the white pieces at multiple points of the game, but he was the one to make the last mistake which cost him the game.

Black just took a knight on e3 with ...Rxe3. How should White respond?

In the game, Navye simply took back fxe3, and after ...Nxd7 he went on to lose the piece down endgame. The only move for him to stay in the game was Rxb7+! followed by fxe3. Now after...Nxd7, White had good chances of holding this ending, as he has 3 pawns for a piece.

Samhita Pungavanam from Team Delphinus was the next one to score, making it 1-4. CM Garv Gaur from Team Debashis was the next one to score an important victory defeating Ayush Naik, now getting a decisive lead for the team. Aniket Narayanan Biswas from Delphinus scored a very nice victory against Marium Fatima with a very creative attacking idea.

What Adhiban-like idea did Aniket find in this position?

Here, Aniket played the beautiful 18. Nxf7! starting off a very nice attack in the kingside. Both Debashis and Swayams really liked his play. Swayams said that Aniket has the potential to become a second to an IM/GM! He mentioned Aniket having a knack to prepare openings very well and understand the ideas deeply. The score was 3-4 now in favor of Team Debashis!

Hiya Garg scored the last point for Team Delphinus against Shashini Puvi, but Garv's win had already sealed the deal. Team Debashis Das won by 5-3 against Team Delphinus! Both Swayams and Debashis congratulated the players, and now it was time for the Grand Finale.

Finals: Team Debashis Das vs Team Wings of Fire

The pairings for the final match! Photo: ChessBase India YouTube live stream

Shashini Puvi from Team Debashis was the first one to score a point in the finals, where her opponent Amit Jagwani just hung a rook in a moment of Blindness. Debapriya Manna struck back from Team Wings of Fire - she defeated Shrihaan Karmakar in a wild game.

Shrihaan had the Black pieces, and 32....Qxa2 was the final mistake by Black. White to play, how did Debapriya continue?

In came a surprise mate in 2 with 33. Rc8+! Rxc8 followed by Qxb7#. The scores were level, and now the match was 1-1.

Tizya Kumar from Wings of Fire defeated Samhita Pungavanam, but the lead didn't stay for long as Ujaan Bhattacharya from Team Debashis Das won against Om Prajapati to make it 2-2.

Marium Fatima (1582) from Team Debashis deep in thought. Photo: ChessBase India live stream.

Marium Fatima was the next one to score a win for Team Debashis, she defeated Abhinav Bhatt with the White pieces. Abhinav had some chances of surviving the exchange-down ending, but couldn't find the proper defense.

White to play, why was ...e3 a blunder by Abhinav?

Marium found the only winning continuation: fxe3 fxe3 Kg4! and Black is in zugzwang. The game continued with ...e2 Re8+ followed by Rxf5, and Abhinav resigned soon after.

CM Garv Gaur drew his game against Manmay Chopra, and Nawin M.S. defeated Honi Arora from an equal minor piece endgame. The score was now 3.5-3.5. It all depended upon the result of the game between Mitul K.H and Hemal Varshan Andalamala. In an incredibly topsy-turvy game where both players missed many wins, something very unfortunate happened to Mitul.

In this completely drawn position, suddenly Andalamala won on time. Photo: ChessBase India YouTube live stream.

In a completely drawn position against Andalamala Hemal Varshan, with 35 seconds on the clock, Mitul K.H. was unable to move the pieces due to a technical glitch.  The arbiter of the event, Vivek Sohani came to the conclusion that in the last 35 seconds, no move from Mitul had reached the server. Internet failure wasn't the cause as well - the correct reason for this glitch couldn't be figured out.

Mitul K.H explains what happened during that exact moment- his camera and Board froze.

Winning this game would mean winning the tournament for Team Debashis Das. The captain of the opposing Team, GM Debashis Das, and Mitul's opponent Hemal Varshan were asked what they would like to do in this situation. In an instant, both Hemal and Debashis decided that they'll take a draw in this game! We would like to deeply thank GM Debashis Das and Andalamala Hemal Varshan for this gesture, keeping the sportsman spirit flying high. We will be awarding a ChessBase India voucher worth Rs.5000 to Hemal Varshan as a fair play award!

Both Hemal and Debashis wanted a fair result for their Team.

A draw in the match meant that the game was going into Armageddon. Mitul K.H and Hemal Varshan played the Armageddon matchup, with the colors reversed i.e. Mitul had the White pieces. Hemal Varshan had 4 minutes on the clock and draw odds, while Mitul had 5 minutes on the clock in a must-win situation. Hemal had a bad opening and found himself facing a tough attack, from which he couldn't recover. Mitul comfortably converted his big advantage to a convincing win.

With this win, Team Wings of Fire had won India's got Chess Talent! All the members of the winning team will receive a gift voucher of Rs.10,000 from ChessBase India to buy products that will boost their chess and help them improve at the game. The coach of the winning team, GM Shyam Sundar Mohanraj will decide 1 player among his team who will receive the India's Got Chess Talent Scholarship of Rs.50,000 that will be instituted via the HelpChess Foundation.

The Champions of India's got chess talent.

A big congratulations to all of the players and coaches for helping us to make this event successful. Without your support, none of this would've been possible! Here are some testimonials from the mentor and the participants of the winning team.

 GM Shyam Sundar Mohanraj: "First of all, thank you for bringing such an initiative. I am sure players from various states will benefit a lot! I hope it gets bigger and bigger every year! Personally, I am glad that my team won the event! Kudos to all the players from other teams as well who showed excellent fighting spirits! We have many talents in India who are willing to work hard. However, they lack guidance and a suitable platform to show their skills. I hope CBI keeps coming up with various innovative initiatives for the betterment of the players. Keep up the great work, team!"

Debapriya Manna: "I would just like to say that all of this was only possible because of Shyam sir. Without him, this would not have been possible 😊"

Tizya Kumar: "It was a great experience working with GM Shyam Sir. A big thanks to Sir for the training, support, and guidance. Without him, this would not have been possible. I had my class 10th science mid-term exam the very next day but being a chess player with patience and calmness, I played the game and gave the exam as well. Looking forward to getting training under his guidance."
Nawin M.S: "First of all, I to thank Sagar Sir and Aditya Sir for Selecting me and giving me an opportunity to participate in this event and to have a conversation with the best coaches in India. I was very happy when GMs and Sagar sir told my name while doing commentary. I want to thank Shyam Sundar Sir he was very kind and explained everything clearly... His online sessions and lessons were very useful. Thank you once again Shyam Sundar Sir and ChessBase India Team for everything."

Manmay Chopra: "I admire Sagar sir a lot for thinking of this idea and assisting us in improving as players. I also want to thank Aditya sir for handling things so well and for enabling me to join despite the fact that I reside on a different continent and have a different time zone than everyone else. Big thanks to Shyam Sundar sir for being a terrific coach and mentor; those two sessions on the day of the match helped me get ready for the competition. I also want to thank the entire team for their excellent teamwork and chess play. The arbiter team deserves praise for running the competition so efficiently. Thank you, everyone :) "

Mitul K.H. :"To be selected by ChessBase India's IGCT program was a proud moment for me. I thank Sagar sir and Aditya sir for giving me this wonderful opportunity. I was excited to be mentored by GM Shyam Sundar sir and I learned a lot in the process. The live session was very enjoyable. I am grateful to him for conducting sessions and guiding us before the tournament. Playing against the other teams in the Semi-finals and the Finals was both exciting and tense. Big thanks to the team for playing so well. It was a unique experience to play on a live stream. After the tournament, I watched the commentary and learned a lot. Special thanks to GM Debashis sir and my opponent Hemal Varshan for considering the technical glitch situation and agreeing to a draw. The tournament happened in the middle of my half-yearly exams and I managed to study for the next day's exam and also play in the tournament. Thanks to ChessBase India once again for giving me this great experience."

Amit Jagwani: "When I got a call from Aditya, stating that I have been selected as a candidate for IGCT, I could not believe my ears. Excited, thrilled, overjoyed, nervous, charged, happy, and proud, was the kind of mixed emotions I was engulfed in. Chess was invented in India, but proper chess platforms were very few. Chessbase India has made a chess platform that is available to lesser-rated players also. I am thankful 🙏 to Chessbase India for this great opportunity and initiative. I was super excited to attend my first class with GM Shyam Sundar and my team "Wings of Fire ". It was very insightful. I came to know about things that I had not thought about before, which also improved my thinking. The day came when I was playing in the Semi-finals. It was a great experience. I was happy with my team also as it has some very good chess talents. We won the first round and reached the Finals. It was a super chilling feeling. I was nervous during the game. Suddenly I blundered the Rook. I froze and in disgust, played on for some more moves, hoping for a miracle that did not happen. Little did I know that a miracle was about to happen. You should see the stream for the final moments. The feeling cannot be explained in words. Team "Wings of Fire" won. But in reality, it was Chess in India, who was the real winner! I have played many tournaments, but such thrill and excitement can only be seen on IGCT!!"

Kimaya Virle: " First of all, I would like to congratulate Sagar Sir for the success of this tournament. Also Thank you Aditya Sir for organizing it so amazingly! It was a great pleasure to be on Shyam Sundar sir's Team. Though I couldn't make it to the match due to university selection I would like to thank everyone for considering it! Lastly, I wish huge success for upcoming such events 😌 "

Abhinav Bhatt: " I would start by addressing the fact that yes, I was a last-minute replacement but I am extremely happy and grateful to be a part of this wonderful team! Especially, when I was studying for the Semester End Examination the next day and I received a call from Aditya Sir and he said you have been selected to participate in India's got Chess Talent, trust me my heart was beating so fast! I could not contain my joy... I said yes, I am definitely in and maybe it was destined to be. I watched through all the streams for the last 2 years and It inspired me to become a chess streamer on YouTube. I have a channel with around 300 subscribers. Sagar Bhai has inspired me in a lot of ways: Chess, dedication, Work Ethic, and also to do what we Enjoy! Channel! I'd also like to thank our team: Shyam Sir, and all my teammates for giving me a chance to perform on a huge stage of Chessbase India. It was a great experience to play among some of India's budding chess talents. It is all about having fun, learning, and growing. Thank you to the ChessBase India team, Sagar Bhai, Aditya Sir, and Shyam Sir 😊 "


The complete live stream of India's got Chess Talent Finals.

A special thanks to ChessBase India's Aditya Sur Roy who played a major role in putting together all the logistics related to the event and coordinating with all the players and the trainers.


Related news:
A very unique Chess Program - India's Got Chess Talent gets underway

@ 01/09/2022 by Sagar Shah (en)
Chessbase India launches India's Got Chess Talent

@ 29/01/2022 by Shahid Ahmed (en)

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