Pouya Idani wins the 1st Goa GM International 2018
It is the second time that an Iranian came to India and won a major GM open event. The first one was by Parham Maghsoodloo at the Mumbai IIFLW event in January 2018 and now it was Pouya Idani who won the title of the 1st Goa GM international 2018. Pouya started as the fifth seed in the event and played a very smooth tournament to emerge as the champion with a score of 8.5/10. In fact, he was completely winning in the penultimate round, but missed his chance. He had to settle for a draw. But in the last round he played his heart out, beat Karthik Venkatraman and won the event. In this report we have all the excitement of the final round, but also a lot of interesting pictures, and interviews to give you a complete feel of this chess extravaganza.
Pouya Idani's super defensive effort to win Goa GM 2018
After botching up a completely winning position in the penultimate round against Levon Babujian, Pouya Idani was in a tough situation. There were four players on a score of 7.5/9 and he was going to face the strong and talented youngster from India Karthik Venkatraman in the last round. The other two leaders Levon Babujian and Sergey Kasparov were facing each other.
"Before the game began I knew that my opponent was a dangerous tactical player and hence I had to remain careful." Idani said. He started off with an off beat opening:
Final ranking after round 10:
|3||11||GM||Deepan Chakkravarthy J.||IND||2540||RLYS||8,0||0,0||63,5||67,5||52,00||6||10||9,6|
|6||54||Raahul V S||IND||2294||TN||8,0||0,0||59,5||63,5||50,00||6||20||58,8|
Iran chess is seeing a boom recently. You have Parham Maghsoodloo meandering around the 2700 mark. He is followed by Alireza Firouzja and Amin Tabatabaei both around the 2600 mark. When you have such youngsters, all below the age of 18, it is natural that a 23-year-old player is overshadowed. But Pouya Idani is not someone you should overlook. He is studying Pharmacy, but his focus is clearly on chess. He works hard on his game giving nearly 8-10 hours each day. As the Iranian economy has collapsed recently it is quite difficult for them to travel to many events or get an international trainer. What they lack in terms of finances, they make it up by working as team with each other. Idani, Maghsoodloo, Tabatabaei and Firouzja form quite a dangerous team and it would be interesting to see how they perform as a team at the Olympiad in two years from now. After his final game ended Pouya could have gone back to his room, relaxed, made phone calls to his loved ones, instead he came to the live commentary room and discussed both his round 9 and 10 games with us in great detail. That showed his true love for the game of chess.
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Deepan Chakkravarthy's story is inspiring. He became a GM at the age of 19 and ever since has been one of India's most promising chess players. However, eleven years later he had a rating of 2477 in August 2017. Any chess player would be disheartened. Anyone would lose hope. From being one of the best juniors, you become one of the many "normal" GMs in the world. But Deepan is an exception! He fought hard, changed his mental approach, transformed his playing style and dedicated himself totally towards chess improvement. The result is here for all to see. In a year he has crossed 2550! At the age of 31, Deepan has for the first time in his chess career crossed the rating of 2550! How is Deepan doing this? Get a glimpse of how Deepan calculates and approaches the game of chess by watching him analyze his last round victory of Martyn Kravtsiv in this video. Deepan beat Kravtsiv and finished 3rd at the Goa GM International 2018.
Sergey Kasparov is a well known GM. Of course a chess player he is extremely solid and hardly ever loses, but he is also famous because he shares his surname with the great Garry Kasparov! In this interview (above) we ask Sergey about his experience of playing in India and also about his two openings Benko Gambit for Black and the Maroczy Sicilian with 5.f3. We also ask Sergey about his meetings with Garry Kasparov and if there was any interesting incident that he can remember of with the 13th World Champion!
Raahul was the only player in the tournament to make a norm. It remains a question as to why only one norm was made in such a strong event where you had 22 GMs and 26 IMs. Well, a lot has to do with the number of players below the rating of 2000 that were allowed to play in the A-category. As per the circular, the A-category is only for players above 2000 Elo. But in this particular scenario there were 288 players and only 143 were above 2000. It is clear that in India a lot of lower rated players want to match their wits against higher rated opponents and do not want to play in the B and C category. On one hand this is boosting Indian chess because a lot of youngsters get a feel of what it is like to play against GMs and IMs. But on the other hand the norm aspirants have very less chance of playing strong opponents getting their IM/GM norms. What is the solution for the same? We asked the Secretary of AICF Bharat Singh Chauhan and this is what he had to say:
Shibin Benny won a crucial final round against Prasath KR and with 9.0/10 emerged as the champion.
Rank after round 10
|1||31||Shibin K Benny||IND||1516||KER||9,0||61,5||66,0||59,00||9||53,0||20||44,0|
|5||50||Prasath K R||IND||1482||TN||8,5||63,0||67,5||55,00||8||54,0||20||50,6|
|6||22||Devi Das Suresh Pai||IND||1532||KAR||8,5||60,0||64,5||55,75||8||52,0||20||14,2|
|8||54||Aanandha Kumar M S||IND||1475||TN||8,0||62,5||67,5||51,75||7||53,5||20||40,8|
|13||150||AFM||Dhanush Ram M||U11||IND||1331||KAR||8,0||56,0||56,5||41,50||7||48,0||40||135,2|
|14||12||Sakthi Subash A S||U15||IND||1556||TN||8,0||54,5||59,5||47,25||7||47,0||40||10,8|
Here's what the winner of the tournament Shibin Benny had to say:
"It was a wonderful tournament. The venue, accommodation and food were all excellent. I was on 5 out of 5 rounds initially. The ship was sailing smoothly. All games until then were relatively easy. And then I lost the 6th round against a Goan player because of playing an unsound opening line by choice (it was a gamble that didn't pay off). So, after 6 rounds, I was on 5 points, which is a good place to be in at the halfway mark. I knew that I will get one more shot at the championship. Rounds 7 and 8 were really tough. Against Kesavan in Round 7, I spotted an exchange sac that completely turned the tables in my favour. This was a big moment in this tournament for me.
I was sort of happy when I saw the pairing for the 10th round. I was to play the leader Prasath K R who was on 8.5 points. The reason for happiness is - If I draw the game (which my opponent would have been happy to agree to), I would get at least 4th prize. And if I win, I would probably become the champion. I couldn't come to a decision that night - whether to agree to a draw or play for a win. But, after I woke up in the morning, I did some calculation to see how much money is at stake. I concluded that I have not got much to lose, and would earn so much more if I were to win. Moreover, I couldn't stand the thought of chickening out to agree to a draw without having tried at all to win. That was it - my mind was made up. I'm playing for a win. The game was really interesting. I got an advantage out of the opening, but it was about to wane off. That was when I saw this unclear rook sac that was worth a look. Having checked the options, I decided to play it, and it came off. Well, that was it. It was a great moment. This was my 2nd consecutive huge prize in 2 months. I am definitely going to play the Goa tournament every year, hopefully in B category next year and A category later on."
After the prize ceremony ended we tried to get in touch with Shibin Benny, but he had to leave in a rush to catch his flight. Hence we interviewed the second placed Vishrut Parekh. Vishrut has an Elo of 1287 and gained 237 Elo points in the tournament. If you look at his rating graph it is quite surprising:
We interviewed Vishrut after the tournament, but at that point we were not aware of this rating fluctuations. We just asked him to show us his best game from the tournament:
We would like to end our coverage of the Goa International 2018 with a very special and talented personality.