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Chess-Tech Startup CircleChess Ventures into Rated Tournament with Remarkable Results

by Tina Popli - 20/06/2024

IM Rahul Sangma scored an unbeaten 8.5/9 to win the inaugural CircleChess Bangalore Rapid Rating Open 2024. Rahul finished a half point ahead of the rest. Five players - IM Harikrishnan A Ra, FM Kunal M, GM P Shyam Nikhil, IM Nitin S and FM Senthil Maran K. The total prize fund was ₹200000. The top three prizes were ₹25000, ₹20000 and ₹15000 along with a trophy each. That's not all, they also received CircleChess software subscriptions. The one-day rating tournament was organized by at Global Divinity Mall in Bengaluru, Karnataka on 1st June 2024. This is Rahul's first rating tournament triumph of the year. Photo: Tarun Mittal/

Rahul Sangma dominates

CircleChess is an innovative Tech startup started by chess enthusiasts, parents, and tech experts, with the aim of revolutionizing the chess ecosystem through advanced technology. Their wide array of offerings includes tournament discovery, automated pairing notifications on WhatsApp, registration, and thorough tournament management. The Team members, consisting of tech experts ,passionate chess enthusiasts and parents of chess players bring a unique blend of skills and dedication to create a platform tailored specifically for the chess community.

Champion - IM Rahul Sangma 8.5/9 | Photo: Tarun Mittal/

Runner-up - IM Harikrishnan A Ra 8/9 | Photo: Tarun Mittal/

Second Runner-up - FM Kunal M 8/9 | Photo: Tarun Mittal/

Top 3 (L to R): 3rd FM Kunal M 8/9, 1st IM Rahul Sangma 8.5/9 and 2nd IM Harikrishnan A Ra 8/9 | Photo: Tarun Mittal/

IM Rahul Sangma scored an unbeaten 8.5/9, drew with India's latest GM P Shyam Nikhil and gained 17.6 Elo rating points

How and when was CircleChess born?

CircleChess came into existence in January 2024,launching their WhatsApp bot aimed at enhancing participant registration and improving tournament organization management.


Gaurav Kumar (Founder of CircleChess) shared some insights on how they started CircleChess:

Both my sons play chess and as a parent, I travelled a lot with them across the country. We realised there is a big gap in the technology involved in Chess compared to other sports and somebody need to bridge it. All technology touch points used in chess such as tournament search, registration platform, pairing updates, game analysis were fragmented which bring in a lot of friction for any chess player to be productive. We initially built a few features and did a pilot test with few chess parents in Bangalore to understand the response. Each one of them liked it and we knew there was definitely a lot more technology we can bring to the chess world."

CircleChess's first tournament-Bangalore Open FIDE Rated Rapid Tournament

They made a grand debut with their first-ever over-the-board tournament held in a mall in Bangalore. What was the turnout? About 640 participants registered. Yes you read that right! They also reached the cap limit set for the venue in the mall because of which they had to close the registrations a few days before the start of tournament. What more? It was a FIDE Rated tournament.

Players of all age groups actively participating! | Photo: Tarun Mittal/

It was a well thought tournament with the organizing team planning and considering various factors with respect to participants, parents and assured that this event remains memorable to all the players and parents which made this event a success.


I, myself was playing there and right from the seamless registration through WhatsApp to getting pairing notification of every round and engaging all the participants and parents with fun activities was something truly commendable by them, looking forward for more such tournaments. :)


"This was our first tournament ever, and we wanted to be special for everybody. Set new standards for the players and organisers in the field of chess tournaments. With an innovative goal and the best team including BUDCA president, Mrs Sowmya and chief Arbiter Vasanth BH, we had all the corners covered to organise a good event. We held it in a mall to ensure that the capacity is good for the players in an air-conditioned environment, along with enough seating capability for the parents and guardians." - Gaurav Kumar (Founder of CircleChess)

What made it extra special?

1. Engaging Activities for Parents: Special arrangements were made to keep parents engaged with events like puzzle-solving, board setup challenges, and other fun activities for both parents and participants.


2. Q&A Session with GM Vishnu Prasanna: Parents had the opportunity to participate in a Q&A session with Grandmaster Vishnu Prasanna, providing valuable insights and interaction.

QnA session with Grandmaster Vishnu Prasanna | Photo: Tarun Mittal/

3. DGT Board Setup: The top 10 boards were equipped with DGT boards, which helped in tracking the game as well as improved player experience.


4. Special Prizes for Unique Categories:

- Best Parent-Player Duo: This motivated more parents to participate, with many even starting their FIDE ratings!

- Best Coaching Academy: Rewarding the best coaching academies throughout the tournament.


5. Free Registration for Veterans (age: 60+)


6. Refund of amount in case the participant wants to withdraw from the tournament - This is usually very rare in tournaments but CircleChess made all the ways to make this possible too!


7. Comfortable Venue: The tournament was held in a venue within a mall, providing a comfortable and accessible location for all.

Feedback from some of the parents:

"It was super smooth n well organised above all the venue was very very comfortable for all (parking + seating + food + ac to beat the heat + proximity to metro station)"

Parents usually have to wait for hours during a tournament, but here the story was different. They were very happy with the engaging and fun activities that were organized to keep them occupied.

"Many thanks and hearty congratulations to the Circlechess team for the wonderful tournament yesterday 🙏💐 But, its a problem for you! In future , we chess parents having got used to this royal treatment will expect the same each time you conduct a tournament!🙂"

The smile says it all! :) | Photo: Tarun Mittal/
"Thank you Gaurav and the Circle Chess team for organizing a seamless tournament that provided a good platform to our kids and all Chess players in Bangalore. Each round was spot on, the activities to keep people engaged was well thought through and helpful, Sitting area and parking was comfortable and effortless. Thank you once again for being the leading light."

Engaging sessions by Gaurav and GM Vishnu | Photo: Tarun Mittal/
"Kudos to Circle Chess team for a wonderful tournament. Venue was a good spot. Very well organized.Hope to see more classical tournaments as well in the same venue.💐👏👏"

For parents, waiting for their kids to finish each round is definitely an emotional experience filled with moments asking for their results and motivating them when needed, but however it does become difficult for them to sit at the same place for long hours without doing anything! But CircleChess found out the perfect solution for that:

"As parents, we always get bored at tournaments because the rounds go on for a long time. We have nothing to do, but just wait for them to finish the game and chat with other parents. It was a no-brainer to engage everybody, and from our own experiences, we found some interesting activities for everybody to be active and enjoy the day. It included a parent-player duo prize where-in the parent-player with highest points win prizes. This got many parents to play their first chess tournament! We also arranged a special interaction and QnA session for parents with GM Vishnu Prasanna (Coach of World Championship Challenger - D Gukesh)." - Gaurav Kumar (Founder of CircleChess)

One of the parent also added:

"Gaurav and Swati, you both stole the show. Very well organized and each and every aspect were well taken care. Wishing circle chess team all success and looking forward for many such offline tournaments. Trophies looked very impressive with circle chess logo in it"

Players in action | Photo: Tina Popli

After the successful launch of the whatsapp bot, CircleChess is gearing up for a very big launch. A learning platform for everyone, providing resources and tools to enhance skills for players of all levels which includes personalised AI-powered chess platform which will help the player understand the exact strengths and weaknesses in his games, personalized trainers to improve the game and constant progress tracking.

Explore a diverse range of resources, from beginner basics to advance level, and make the most of it! To join the waitlist for launch, click here.

Wishing all the very best to the whole team for the continued success and innovation in the Chess community! :)


A total of 606 players including a GM, and 5 IMs took part from all over the country and three from USA in this one-day nine round Rapid Rating Open tournament. It was organized by at Global Divinity Mall in Bengaluru, Karnataka on 1st June 2024. The time control of the event was 15 minutes + 5 seconds increment per move.

Final standings

Rk.SNoNameTypsexGrFEDRtgClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
16IMSangma Rahul,IND2194RSPB8,553,557,553,50
39FMKunal M.,IND2103TN8545951,75
41IMShyaamnikhil P,IND2347ICF8545951,00
53IMNitin S.,IND2233TN85456,548,75
67FMSenthil Maran K,IND2129TN8535749,00
75GMLaxman R.R.,IND2203ICF7,5555845,75
812Hirthickkesh Pr,IND2010TN7,5535745,50
948Aarav Saish Amonkar,U12NanirIND1726KA7,552,557,546,75
104FMMushini Ajay,IND2222AP7,552,556,544,50
1144Leelajai Krishna N,IND1738KA7,551,55644,25
1252Niranjan J Warrier,Chess Shoots AcIND1689KA-217,5505443,00
1317Santoshkashyap Hg,IND1917KA7,5475040,75
1419AGMArka Sengupta,IND1902KA754,558,543,75
1564Chinmay Kowshik,U14IND1654KA753,556,541,25
1615Augustin A,Pro Chess AcadeIND1946KA752,557,541,50
1724Neil Franclin S,IND1836TN7525439,00
1845Rakesh N,MANDYA CHESS ACIND1738KA751,553,538,50
1921Amal, RooziIND1875KL7515642,50
2053Avyan Shah,U14IND1688KA75155,539,50
2125Madhesh Kumar S,U12CGIND1828PY750,555,541,50
2223Siddhanth Poonja,U12RCCIND1857KA750,554,539,50
2328Naga Sai Sarthak Karanam,Karnataka chessIND1801KA7505439,00
2459Shreya Rajesh,F12wLakshyan AcademIND1666KA749,554,540,25
2538Karthik E,IND1756TN749,553,539,25
2613Sudhir S.,IND1954KA748,55237,75
2749Aarav Sarbalia,U12Harvest InternaIND1722KA-1574850,536,50
2834Aneesh Adiga,Chess Shoots AcIND1776KA7485037,25
2916Likhit Chilukuri,IND1925KA747,55239,00
3063Tanmay Srinath,Karnataka chessIND1656KA7475137,50


About the Author

Tina is a recent graduate of Information Science and Engineering from Bengaluru. Passionate about chess and technology, she always believes that a small step taken today can shape into something big tomorrow.

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