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10 things that made last day of Goa GM International 2019 special

by Sagar Shah - 28/06/2019

The second edition of the Goa International Open Grandmaster Chess Tournament 2019 came to an emphatic end for the Armenian fans. Samvel Ter Sahakyan scored a gritty victory over Davit Jojua in the last round to tie with his friend Manuel Petrosyan on 8.0/10. They were joined by Iranian Pouya Idani who scored 5 points in last five rounds. Samvel was the champion on better tie-break score. In this article we bring you all the action from not just the final round, but also from the closing ceremony. A total of 13 norms were scored in the tournament. A huge boost for Indian players and it was only possible because the organizers at Goa ensured a very high rating average (2182) of participants in the A group.  

1. Armenian lions rule in Goa

The Goa GM 2019 was not one of those events where the top boards took quick draws and just finished the event. In fact every top player was in an ambitious mood and fought until the bitter end. Manuel Petrosyan had a half point lead over the field. In the last round, however, he couldn't make a breakthrough against Georgian GM Luka Paichadze. The game ended in a draw. This gave a chance to other pursuers on seven points to play for a win and tie with Petrosyan. On board three Samvel Ter Sahakyan played against Davit Jojua.

Samvel Ter Sahakyan had the white pieces and played the Sicilian Rossolimo | Photo: Amruta Mokal

If you look at the game below, you will notice the smoothness with which Samvel won the game. It just shows how strong the Armenian GM is mentally. He didn't care that it was the last round, he just played all the best moves in the position and won his game!


Samvel Ter-Sahakyan vs Davit Jojua

Black has just defended his f5 pawn with his rook. How did Samvel continue?

Samvel had seen the nice tactic in advance. He played Nxf5! Rxf5 Qe4 pinning the rook. Black tried to cling on with ...Ng7 but after g4! it was already over!

We had a three way tie at the top, but in the end it was Ter Sahakyan who had the best tiebreak and took home the winner's cheque of Rs.3,50,000

Samvel Ter Sahakyan with the winner's trophy | Photo: Niklesh Jain
A few words with Samvel Ter Sahakyan after he won the event!

Manuel Petrosyan who was leading the tournament right from the start had to be content with the second spot. But it was a very successful tournament for both the youngsters from Armenia. Samvel gained 12.5 Elo points, while Petrosyan went back with 15 Elo points.

Top three winners of the Goa GM 2019 - winner Samvel Ter Sahakyan (centre), second - Manuel Petrosyan (right) and third - Idani Pouya (left) | Photo: Niklesh Jain
Top three spots announced at the closing ceremony. Just have a look at the grand settings!

Final standings after round 10

Rk.SNo NameTypsexFEDRtgClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4  TB5 nwwew-weKrtg+/-
13GMTer-Sahakyan SamvelARM2611ARM8,00,061,566,552,2571086,751,251012,5
211GMPetrosyan ManuelARM2573ARM8,00,058,063,048,5061086,511,491014,9
36GMIdani PouyaIRI2597IRI8,00,054,057,546,2571087,570,43104,3
418GMBurmakin VladimirRUS2526RUS7,50,054,558,543,755107,57,57-0,0710-0,7
517GMTukhaev AdamUKR2527UKR7,50,053,557,041,255107,57,030,47104,7
613GMPaichadze LukaGEO2557GEO7,50,052,557,041,006107,57,140,36103,6
727GMVasquez Schroeder RodrigoCHI2476CHI7,50,052,556,541,756107,57,160,34103,4
825GMRahman ZiaurBAN2481BAN7,50,052,055,539,007107,56,311,191011,9
938IMMohammad Nubairshah ShaikhIND2436MAH7,50,052,055,538,007107,56,520,98109,8
1016GMGukesh DIND2543TN7,50,051,556,541,757107,58,01-0,5110-5,1
1114GMDebashis DasIND2544ORI7,50,051,555,541,255107,58,06-0,5610-5,6
121GMIturrizaga Bonelli EduardoVEN2637VEN7,00,060,565,043,5051077,44-0,4410-4,4
139GMJojua DavitGEO2580GEO7,00,059,563,542,0051077,06-0,0610-0,6
1472FMAnuj ShrivatriIND2336MP7,00,055,058,538,7551075,261,742034,8
152GMPantsulaia LevanGEO2614GEO7,00,054,558,039,0061077,56-0,5610-5,6
1610GMTurov MaximRUS2579RUS7,00,054,058,539,7551078,16-1,1610-11,6
1726GMKunte AbhijitIND2478MAH7,00,053,058,040,0041077,52-0,5210-5,2
1824GMGagare ShardulIND2482MAH7,00,053,057,038,7541077,59-0,5910-5,9
1954CMBharath Subramaniyam HIND2383TN7,00,052,055,535,5061075,911,092021,8
2033GMLugovskoy MaximRUS2451RUS7,00,050,054,537,0061077,61-0,6110-6,1

The trophy is too heavy for Samvel!

Samvel Ter Sahakyan had a flight to catch and was in quite a bit of hurry. I ran over to him and asked for an interview. "Let's do it near my car", he said, so that he can leave the premises immediately after the interview is done. I agreed and we did a very short interview (published above). As he was just about to leave Samvel told me, "Look, this trophy is really very heavy. I would not be able to carry it back home. It will make my life really tough getting it through the flight. You keep it. And keep it for yourself!" I thought to myself, this guy is joking. But he gave the trophy in my hand, sat in his car and left!

Petrosyan has the trophy, but Samvel is the lighter mind (and luggage!) | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Back in the playing hall, I became the centre of attraction as I walked in with the winner's trophy! | Photo: Niklesh Jain

A lot of people posed with the trophy and everyone had a great time (Thanks, Samvel!). I went to the organizers and told them about the trophy. The organizers said that if they got Samvel's address then they would ship it to Armenia! Well, now that's a wonderful gesture by the Goa team. After I was confident that the trophy will be taken care off and sent to Samvel, I left it with the organizers and went back to my work. I must say, the feeling of holding the winner's trophy for those 15 minutes was quite exhilarating!

3. The Iranian fighter

Pouya Idani, the defending champion, had his task cut out in the last round as he faced the top seed Iturrizaga in the last round with the black pieces | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Iturrizaga vs Pouya Idani

In this position Iturrizaga sank into a a deep think. He thought for nearly 20 minutes and then played...

Yes, the pin was irritating, but breaking it this way was not the best move. White should have preferred Kc2 over Nf7.

Pouya immediately grabbed his opportunity and played his knight to e6. The bishops have to be exchanged and then White loses the key pawn of his position, the one on g2 and after that one more pawn would fall.

To finish third with bad health after 3.0/5, winning his last five rounds, speaks volumes about Pouya Idani's fighting spirit | Photo: Niklesh Jain

4. Top scoring Indians

Nubairshah Sheikh with 3.5/6 was having a mediocre event at the Goa GM 2019. In the last four rounds, he beat all of his opponents and reached 7.5/10, finishing 10th and being the highest placed Indian | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Nubairshah Shaikh vs Kiril Stupak, round 10

Black has just played ...b6. How should White continue?

Although this position has been reached seven times before, Nubair was unaware about the best move in the position. He thought hard over the board and found the idea with d4! A pawn sacrifice, but one that won the game for the Mumbai player.

Gukesh did suffer two losses in the tournament, but after every loss he came back strongly to score 7.5.10, win the 10th spot and the prize money of Rs.1,00,000. Although he scored well, Gukesh lost 5 Elo points. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Debashis Das didn't start the tournament so well, but ended it on a high. He finished 11th with 7.5/10 and won Rs.1,00,000 | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The top finishers of the Goa GM 2019 | Photo: Niklesh Jain

5. Thirteen norms by eleven players

When you are able to maintain a high Elo average of the tournament (2182, in this case), then you are bound to get a lot of norms scored. At the Goa GM 2019, thirteen norms were scored, by eleven players. K. Priyanka managed to score three norms in the single event (WIM, WGM and IM).

The 11 norm makers. The list of them is mentioned below from left to right:

1. Srija Seshadri - Final WGM norm

2. Anuj Shrivatri - second IM norm

3. K. Priyanka - second WIM norm and maiden WGM/IM norm

4. Rathanvel - Final IM norm

5. Michelle Catherina - maiden WGM norm

6. Bharath Subramaniyam - final IM norm

7. Neelash Saha - IM norm (has already completed all requirements to be an IM)

8. Mitrabha Guha - IM norm ( has already completed all requirements to be an IM)

9. Aaryan Varshney - first IM norm

10. Saina Salonika - first WIM norm

11. Sankalp Gupta - IM norm (has already completed all requirements to be an IM)

One of the images that is memorable for me is Aaryan Varshney and his father sitting outside the playing hall and analyzing the games. The prize ceremony was in progress inside and Aaryan had won an IM norm, but more important for them was to work on the game and improve as a player! This is the reason why the boy will very soon be an IM. | Photo: Sagar Shah

6. Three new IMs and one WGM was created at this event!

Bharath Subramaniyam not just achieved his final IM norm but also completed all his formalities for becoming an IM. He has achieved the IM title at the tender age of 11 years and 8 months! | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Sankalp Gupta played one of the best tournaments of his life until round 7. He beat Gukesh, Fier and Mhamal and became an IM by crossing the 2400 mark. In the last three rounds he suffered a loss against grandmaster opposition and didn't finish so well. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Mitrabha Guha beat Ziaur Rahman in round three and crossed 2400 Elo | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Srija Seshadri crossed 2300 Elo at the event and became India's latest WGM. From being 2174 before the start of Mumbai Mayor's Cup, Srija has gained nearly 130 points in the last 20 rounds to cross 2300 Elo. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

7. The top boards at C category didn't want to fight!

The C group (below 1600) tournaments have become quite popular in India. That's because of the huge prize money at stake. However, in the final round at the Goa GM 2019, instead of fighting for the first place, the top two boards agreed to a draw in a few minutes from the start of the game and ensured that they all would be joint first.  

Where are the boards?! The scene after just few minutes of the last round beginning | Photo: Niklesh Jain

I wouldn't call this the best approach by the players to make short draws for the top prizes, but I can also understand the immense pressure that was there on their mind. The huge prize money forced them to play for truce rather than war! Maybe, the organizers will find a way to avoid such a situation in future.

Mayur Kalbande took home the winner's booty of Rs.1,50,000 | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Final standings after round 10

k.SNo NameTypsexFEDRtgClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4  TB5 
13Kalbande MayurIND1578MP8,50,063,567,554,757
262Stephen Raj AIND1479TN8,50,063,068,056,007
348Vangala PrashanthIND1499AP8,50,063,067,554,757
416Ravi ChopraIND1554UP8,50,063,067,054,757
525Prasath K RIND1545TN8,50,062,567,556,507
637Deepak K SIND1512KER8,50,062,567,555,758
764Mrithyunjay MahadevanU11IND1473TN8,50,056,560,051,758
888Mahendar BIND1443TEL8,50,053,556,549,758
9116Kesavan GIND1408TN8,00,063,566,550,757
1056Vishwanath KannamIND1490AP8,00,061,065,549,507
1179Yashas PessiU13IND1452DEL8,00,059,564,049,757
1213Dhirain VijIND1557PUN8,00,057,062,048,508
1354Utkarsh AgrawalIND1491MP8,00,057,061,547,008
1474Gopinath PIND1458TN8,00,057,061,547,007
1546Vinoth MIND1504TN8,00,055,560,047,008

8. Chief minister visits the tournament

The chief minister of Goa Pramod Sawant visited the closing ceremony | Photo: Niklesh Jain

You know that this is a big event when the chief minister of a state visits the closing ceremony. Chief Minister of Goa Pramod Sawant was the chief guest at the closing ceremony. On his first appearance it is easy to mistake him as a common man. And that's what was so refreshing about him. He didn't wear the usual politician's outfit. A simple shirt and trousers was how he arrived at the venue. More than his attire, he let his words do the talking. He announced a 20 lakh rupees grant to the Goa Chess Association and assured that even in the future the government of Goa will support the Goa International Grandmaster chess tournament to the best of its abilities. When you have the political backing, the sport is bound to flourish.

9. The man with the vision

Conducting the first GM tournament in the smallest state of India was a bold decision. Following it up with a bigger, grander and better organized event was even bolder! All of this is possible only because of the vision of one man - Nilesh Cabral. He is the Power minister of Goa, and the President of the Goa Chess Association. A lot of people described him as "dynamic" in their speeches. I felt these were just kind words that everyone said about someone important. I later understood that the word "dynamic" suits Nilesh Cabral in the best possible way. He is all the time taking the hard decisions and making sure that solutions are found for the problems that arise. His vision is to make Goa a hub of chess in India and with the Goa GM International tournament he is making it possible. At the ChessBase India stall, we saw a huge rise in the number of coaches and players who were from Goa than what we witnessed last year. This is the direct consequence of the Goa GM international tournament!

The "Dynamic" President of Goa Chess Association, and the Power Minister of Goa Nilesh Cabral | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Nilesh Cabral's vision is put into action by the Secretary of Goa Chess Association Kishor Bandekar. Kishor Bandekar has the unique ability to unite and integrate all the people who work with him. This was seen at the venue as all the people in the organizing committee and volunteers were thoroughly dedicated and self motivated. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

The nice thing about the Goa GM tournament was that so many women were part of the organizing committee | Photo: Sagar Shah

10. ChessBase India team

The ChessBase India team worked around the clock to bring you all the results of the tournament. It was time for us to take a short break from work and to unwind and reload ourselves with new weapons and ammunition. Hence, after the tournament ended, the ChessBase India team spend some time in Goa, not just discussing about the future ideas and plans but also having a nice time with each other!

The ChessBase India team | From left to right: Jeevan Karandikar, Supriya Bhat, Sagar Shah, Avathanshu Bhat, Amruta Mokal, Angela Franco, Niklesh Jain, Nongsha Angom, Shahid Ahmed 

ChessBase India was proud to be associated with the 2nd Goa GM International 2019 as the media partner

A total of 75 videos in the Goa GM 2019 YouTube playlist

Photos from the closing ceremony

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