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Sanjib Mali wins 2nd DCA Below 1600

by Shahid Ahmed - 01/12/2017

24-year old Sanjib Mali from Kolkata, West Bengal won ₹151000 in 2nd DCA Below 1600 FIDE Rated Chess Championship 2017. This is the biggest prize he has won in his lifetime. Sanjib did not even expect to win the tournament when he went to play there. How did he win the tournament in today's era without even using a computer for his preparation, what are his thoughts about such a huge prize money in a below 1600 event and much more. Usually we have interviews of national champions and grandmasters who win important events, but Shahid Ahmed's interview of Sanjib Mali brings out the completely unexplored side of the life of an amateur chess player. Photos: Delhi Chess

Sanjib Mali wins 2nd DCA Below 1600 in fairytale ending

Sanjib never thought of receiving a prize money of ₹1,51,000 from AICF Secretary Mr Bharat Singh Chauhan | Photo: Delhi Chess

Sanjib started well with a double hat-trick of wins and had four-way lead after the sixth round. He drew in the seventh round and slipped to second position. He got into the title picture after winning his eighth round and became the sole leader of the tournament. A win in the last round would have guaranteed him the championship. He was confident that his tie-break score is much higher than the players who were trailing behind by half a point. So he decided to settle for a draw in the last round. He was right and he did become the champion and took home a glittering trophy and one and a half lakh rupees. Let us see his best game from the tournament, annotated by him.

Here is a short interview with Sanjib Mali about what was going through his mind during the last round, how he calculated his way towards championship, his opinion about such a high prize money in a Below 1600 tournament and many more.

Shahid Ahmed (SA): 2nd DCA tournament a last round a draw korar por, champion hoyechho jene kemon lagchhilo? (After a draw in the last round of the 2nd DCA tournament, you became the champion. How do you feel?)

Sanjib Mali (SM): First time I became a champion in a tournament of this magnitude. I am very happy about it. Informed everyone I know, everybody congratulated me.

SA: What was going through your mind before playing the last round?

SM: I was playing for a draw in the last round. I offered a draw first which he declined. He got a pawn up in the middle game but I had compensation for it. However he had two minutes left on the clock, whereas I had over twenty five minutes left on the clock. Then he offered me a draw which I accepted.

SA: Since you said that you were playing for a draw in the last round, were you sure about your championship if you drew in the final round?

SM: Yes, because I was leading by half a point and my Buchholz was much more than the rest.

SA: So it was a calculated decision. How were you feeling when the draw offer was refused?

SM: I was quite tensed at that time. After blundering the pawn, I went to the washroom to freshen up. Then I returned to the board and for five minutes I kept my head down at my table, removed everything from my head and fully concentrated on the game which eventually led to a draw.

SA: What is your parents reaction upon hearing about your triumph?

SM: They are absolutely delighted. They distributed sweets to everyone they know and they told me to continue improving my game. They inspire me a lot.

SA:  Whom will you give maximum credit for your championship?

SM: My coach and my practice partner, Samir Dhar and Sandip Dey respectively. They have helped me in everything.

SA: What are you planning to do with 1.5 lacs prize money?

SM: I give all my prize money to my dad. Now I will get a laptop to improve my game.

SA: What do you think about Below 1600 tournaments having such a high prize money?

SM: I think both it should be such and it should not be too. Huge prize money will definitely help the players. However, in tournaments where a GM is winning a prize money worth 2 lacs and a below 1600 player is also winning the same prize money, it feels bad as a player. In my opinion, below 1600 tournament should have a maximum of 1 lac as their first prize.

SA: What do you do now apart from chess?

SM: Completed my graduation. Now preparing government service entrance examinations.

SA: What are your ambitions for chess?

SM: I have a lot of desire for chess but have not received that much of help so far.

SA: I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

SM: Let’s see. I will be delighted wherever chess takes me.

Top 3 of the tournament: Champion Sanjib Mali (right), ruuner up Ranjith Kalaiyarasan and second runner up Vishwanath Kannam | Photo: Delhi Chess

It was a close fight until the end which resulted in four players finishing at 8 points after the completion of ninth round. Sanjib Mali of West Bengal became champion due to the best tie-break score. Ranjith Kalaiyarasan of Puducherry was placed second, Vishwanath Kannam of Andhra Pradesh third and 11-year-old Harshit Pawar was adjudged at the fourth position. Manabi Chouhan of West Bengal was declared as the best female player while Rohit Dhall of Delhi was announced as the best among unrated players.


The tournament was conducted from 12th to 14th November 2017 at Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi. Around 535 players participated across 20 different states of India.

Final Ranking after 9 Rounds

Rk.SNoNameTypsexFEDRtgIClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4  TB5 w-weKrtg+/-
120Sanjib MaliIND1556WB8,00,055,560,052,507,02,262045,2
266Ranjith KalaiyarasanIND1501PUD8,00,052,055,047,257,02,552051,0
356Vishwanath KannamIND1509AP8,00,049,053,545,508,02,412048,2
498Pawar HarshitU12IND1474DEL8,00,046,550,044,507,01,804072,0
5162Arshin SikkaU12IND1380DEL7,50,053,558,047,006,03,9140156,4
6123Devansh SinghIND1444MP7,50,049,550,539,506,03,0140120,4
796Madhusudhan Reddy EsswarawakaIND1475AP7,50,049,053,042,256,02,242044,8
838Arun KumarIND1533PUN7,50,048,052,040,007,01,732034,6
916Praveen Kumar GunasekaranIND1564PUD7,50,046,050,541,257,01,242024,8
1068Gaurav NishadIND1499UP7,50,046,048,039,006,01,352027,0
1162Murarilal KoriIND1503MP7,50,045,550,040,257,01,282025,6
1294Nagasri SaikanthIND1476AP7,50,043,047,038,756,01,764070,4
1388Vishal ThoratIND1483MAH7,50,041,045,038,257,00,972019,4
1443Raghunandan RohitIND1526MP7,00,051,055,039,756,01,012020,2
15149Bhojwani RaviIND1400MAH7,00,050,552,537,007,02,242044,8
1679Hiridik RajendranIND1493TN7,00,050,053,539,256,00,834033,2
176Bhavyay GuptaU12IND1579DEL7,00,049,053,039,505,00,714028,4
1859Daaevik WadhawanU09IND1506DEL7,00,048,552,036,007,01,404056,0
1949Das Jitendra KumarIND1517ODI7,00,047,552,037,007,00,972019,4
2029Phani KanuriIND1543AP7,00,047,551,538,506,00,842016,8
2167Jagan VIND1500TN7,00,046,549,035,007,01,082021,6
22155Vineesh P SIND1397KER7,00,046,047,532,507,02,522050,4
2360Bala GaneshanIND1504KER7,00,044,548,535,506,01,012020,2
2437Vipan KumarIND1534HP7,00,043,547,034,256,01,072021,4
2593Arbaz ShekhIND1477MP7,00,043,047,035,007,00,652013,0
2699Imran HussainIND1473RLYS7,00,042,546,534,507,01,012020,2
2780Suganthan RIND1493TN7,00,041,044,033,506,0-0,2820-5,6
28112Sarthak RawatU15IND1455UTT7,00,040,043,533,755,01,034041,2
2978Avinash ChandraIND1493UTT7,00,040,043,032,505,00,572011,4
3034Satyam PrakashIND1538DEL7,00,039,542,034,006,00,06201,2
3154Raj PrakharIND1513HAR7,00,037,541,032,006,00,24204,8
3248Jayesh T AIND1522KER6,50,050,554,536,006,00,42208,4
339Diya ChowdhuryU15wIND1572WB6,50,049,554,036,256,00,16406,4
3475Panday SanjayIND1495PUN6,50,049,053,035,256,00,39207,8
3583Gopikrishnan SIND1488TN6,50,047,551,534,256,00,552011,0
3697Darji Javahar HIND1474GUJ6,50,047,050,031,756,00,26205,2
37177Parekh VishrutU15IND1366GUJ6,50,046,550,533,006,01,774070,8
3876Bardoliwala NirmalIND1494GUJ6,50,046,549,033,255,00,23204,6
3942Vaishant Kumar GangwaniIND1527HAR6,50,046,050,035,506,00,29205,8
4011Kalbande MayurIND1566MP6,50,045,048,535,004,0-0,1520-3,0
4127Bhagwat HerambIND1545MAH6,50,045,048,533,506,0-0,1640-6,4
42103Abhilash GIND1467KER6,50,044,548,031,006,00,932018,6
43151Sumesh KabeerIND1399KER6,50,044,547,030,256,01,572031,4
4581Laksh BansalIND1491PUN6,50,043,047,532,756,00,284011,2
46113Aman KumarIND1454BIH6,50,043,046,530,256,00,984039,2
4763Projnabrata SethIND1503DEL6,50,042,546,032,006,00,02200,4
48122Vijay Kumar SinghIND1446BIH6,50,042,045,031,255,00,734029,2
49101Srinivasa Reddy MIND1470AP6,50,041,545,531,006,0-0,2520-5,0
5070Singh AmarjotIND1498HAR6,50,041,044,529,756,0-0,2140-8,4
51137Siddharth YadavIND1415DEL6,50,039,542,028,256,0-0,3720-7,4
5284Saumya SrivastavaU15IND1486BIH6,50,039,043,030,756,0-0,4840-19,2
53134Chaudhary SanketIND1420MAH6,50,037,540,528,506,0-0,3220-6,4
5485Atma PrakashIND1485UP6,50,037,539,527,506,0-0,8920-17,8
5586Ravi SharmaIND1485J&K6,50,037,040,027,005,0-0,4820-9,6
5610Shaik Sumer ArshU09IND1569AP6,00,048,552,531,506,0-0,2040-8,0
57159Ani JosephIND1384KER6,00,048,552,033,004,01,672033,4
583Vadoya Hitesh RIND1593GUJ6,00,048,052,032,506,0-0,6620-13,2
59115Suhaib AhmadIND1452UP6,00,048,052,032,006,00,552011,0
60536Sanjay KumarIND0DEL6,00,048,052,030,506,0
618Gaurav SharmaIND1573UP6,00,047,551,532,006,0-0,2620-5,2
62216Ullas Krishnan U BIND1324KER6,00,047,051,531,506,02,062041,2
6387Ragesh Sarma.MU15IND1483TN6,00,047,051,031,006,0-0,0340-1,2
64100Murali Mohan YIND1472AP6,00,047,050,030,005,00,48209,6
65215Anubhav PatelIND1325CHAT6,00,047,048,529,006,01,992039,8
66158Samveg JainU15IND1387DEL6,00,046,549,529,006,01,054042,0
6736Devi Das Suresh PaiIND1537KAR6,00,046,050,532,505,0-0,1620-3,2
68535Sanjay DalalIND0HAR6,00,046,050,530,505,0
69144Thomas Nidhin V VIND1407KER6,00,045,548,528,006,01,112022,2
70129Mohit AmbwaniIND1432DEL6,00,045,548,029,754,01,432028,6
71107Thakkar JatanIND1464GUJ6,00,045,547,528,755,0-0,6340-25,2
72116Tushar BanerjeeIND1451WB6,00,045,547,526,506,01,092021,8
73109Chauhan NarayanU12IND1460UP6,00,045,047,529,505,01,184047,2
74145Sangvikar RahulIND1405MAH6,00,045,047,527,006,00,512010,2
7521Bhat Siddharth KIND1552DEL6,00,044,548,530,506,0-0,6820-13,6
7645Nagargoje DhananjayIND1525MAH6,00,044,548,529,255,0-0,1420-2,8
7741Uttam Prakash SharmaU15IND1528HAR6,00,044,547,529,005,0-0,5540-22,0
78170Patra AnilkumarIND1373ODI6,00,044,547,528,506,01,382027,6
79176Vinayak AgarwalIND1367DEL6,00,044,546,527,755,00,924036,8
80138Amit MehrotraIND1414HAR6,00,043,547,528,006,00,14202,8
81111Stephen Raj AIND1458TN6,00,043,546,528,006,00,522010,4
82140Deshpande OmkarIND1413MAH6,00,043,546,527,005,01,582031,6
83293Salhuto NyekhaIND1195NAG6,00,043,046,531,005,03,7940151,6
84538Satish Kumar SahniS60IND0DEL6,00,043,046,530,006,0
8574Chetan SharmaU15IND1496UTT6,00,043,046,528,255,0-0,2440-9,6
86161Vatsal MakolIND1381UP6,00,042,545,527,005,01,744069,6
87102Anit Kumar AgarwalIND1468UP6,00,042,046,028,006,0-0,3420-6,8
88199Shashi Raj SaxenaS60IND1344DEL6,00,042,045,527,506,00,762015,2
89127Venkatesh KIND1436TN6,00,041,545,526,506,00,33206,6
90169Siddiqui Md. SabirS60IND1374UP6,00,041,545,027,006,01,682033,6
91139Rowdrick Saha TalukdarU12IND1414WB6,00,041,545,026,506,00,574022,8
9240Rajesh Kumar ShuklaS60IND1531DEL6,00,041,544,528,506,0-0,6640-26,4
9332Tiwari O PIND1539MP6,00,041,544,026,506,0-0,9420-18,8
94165Anandd TripathiIND1378UP6,00,041,542,023,255,01,324052,8
9590Saikat NathIND1480DEL6,00,041,043,025,006,0-0,4320-8,6
9653Debiprasad SarkarIND1513WB6,00,040,544,528,255,0-0,7320-14,6
97106Amar Jyoti KakotyIND1464ASM6,00,040,544,028,006,0-0,3120-6,2
98182Yogesh SharmaIND1361RAJ6,00,040,544,026,755,01,072021,4
9971Bajpai AnilIND1497UP6,00,040,044,026,505,0-0,6620-13,2
10028Shambo DuttaIND1544WB6,00,040,043,528,505,0-0,8320-16,6