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Salem: Surendran N. wins, Ram S. Krishnan misses on second tie-break!

by Nitin Pai - 04/02/2017

The 1st Salem International FIDE rated open was held at Mahendra College of Engineering, Salem from 26-29th January 2017 and attracted a massive total of 715 participants! A curious case in Indian tournaments is the rating anomaly. A player who beats 2300s in norm events struggles against a 1500 in a tournament in Tamil Nadu. Nitin Pai explains...

Salem: Surendran N. wins, Ram S. Krishnan misses on second tie-break!

Report by Nitin Pai


The 1st Salem International FIDE rated open was held at Mahendra College of Engineering, Salem from 26-29th January, 2017 and attracted a massive total of 715 participants! Surendran N, Ram S Krishnan, and Rao J Malleswara,in that order took 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place on tiebreak, after each of them scored 7.5/8 points. The fact that these guys did not play each other is a drawback of these trendy 8 round events.

The tournament was conducted in Mahendra College of Engineering, Salem. Last year, a state level tournament attracted 1200 players. This year, the district association decided to go ahead and conduct an all India open Fide rated event at the venue.

The weather was beautiful throughout the course of the tournament with mild drizzles. The college also gave its students a small vacation during these days and players and parents could fully enjoy the campus. They were given dormitory accommodation and the canteen served great food at decent rates.

Chess players could also avail the institute basketball court when done with their games.

A beautiful evening hillside view from campus.

The large playing hall that comfortably accommodated 715 players with good playing conditions.

Chennai-based coach N Surendran, rated 2119 and seeded 7th, was in sublime form as he won the championship.He gained 10 elo points for his effort.Yours truly was one of his victims.

Ram S Krishnan (right) who had won 2 championships last month, at Cusat, Kerala and Karur, Tamil Nadu, was unlucky this time around and had to be content with the 2nd place on the second tiebreak!

Rao J Malleswara was held to a draw in round 3 by Sushmith Banerjee rated 1447. Rao went on to win all his remaining games to finish 3rd.

Happier than Sushmith was his coach who celebrated his student’s feat with a selfie.

Top seeded Al Muthaiah(right) too played well to score 7.0/8 and finished 4th. Here he is seen playing with senior coach Gopalakrishnan K.
The Arbiters team comprising of Chief Arbiter Palaniappan from Salem,who also played a key role in the planning and organisation of the tournament,he was assisted by Anand Babu from Trichy, who is very popular among the players. Mr Saju Manjaly (behind) from Chess Association Kerala had come to promote the upcoming below 1600 event at Thrissur.

FM Vinoth Kumar, the man who redefines opening theory, played well to score 7.0/8 and finish 7th.

OT Anilkumar, who just the day before this tournament was scoring against 2300 rated players at the Chennai Open, was suddenly struggling against players rated 1500 and 1600!

This shows how messed up the rating system has become and how underrated Indian players are. Several other players too suffered and lost rating points to lower rated players.


A personal suggestion would be to vary K factor with rating rather than age. Say give a K factor of 50 to all players rated below 1300. 40 for players from 1300-1600, 30 until 1900 and 20 thereafter till It becomes 10 at 2400. (The numbers given are only examples ,the actual values to be given must be arrived at after doing some research).


In the position in the picture, OT playing black, is 2 pawns down against a youngster rated 500 points lower, but somehow managed to take it to a drawn Philidor position and survived.

The Organiser, Mr Arun signing Cheques to be given to prize winners, which has become common these days in tournaments after demonetisation.

Arun is a chess player and secretary of Salem district Chess association. He is thankful to chess for getting him a respected Engineering degree (he also has an MBA).

IM S Nitin from Salem inaugurated the final round. Here he is seen with his father Mr Senthivel, who is also president of Salem Chess Association.
Coach Dhanashekar from Coimbatore, brought along 22 students(only few in the pic) to the tournament.

Coach Vinoth Kumar too brought 24 students from his Bishop Academy of Chess Pondicherry.

Overall it was a great and enjoyable tournament and definitely among the better ones in Tamil Nadu. The organisers and college authorities have promised to conduct the second edition next year on the same dates with even better facilities for the players!


The writer is a student at IIT-Madras and a chess fanatic. He also is the organizer of the Shaastra Rapid Tournament 2016.


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