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Rupankar Nath wins in the Himalayan Chess Orchid

by IA Dharmendra Kumar - 09/02/2017

The city of Gangtok and the state of Sikkim are known for its natural beauty. In such a serene environment a rating tournament was held from the 2nd to the 6th of February 2017. Rupankar Nath, twelfth seed of the event, emerged as the champion ahead of many titled players. We have a pictorial report sent to us by IA Dharmendra Kumar, which not only deals with the tournament, but also takes you on a tour of the Himalayan chess orchid!

Late Trilochand Dhakal tournament in Gangtok, Sikkim

The FIDE rating tournament in Gangtok was conducted from the 2nd to the 6th of February 2017 by Knight Chess Academy in the loving memory of Late Trilochand Dhakal.

Son of Trilochand Dhakal, Mahendra Dhakal, is the Secretary of the Sikkim Chess Association. The tournament was sponsored by the Dhakal family headed by Mrs. Til Maya Dhakal.

Tournament was held at Tashi Namgyal Academy (photo by Nubairshah Shaikh)

It is one of the best and reputed schools in the city of Gangtok and was established in the year 1926.

That's where the tournament was held

162 players including 2 IMs ,2 FMs and 87 rated players participated from different states of country. Four players from Nepal also took part. It was a nine-round Swiss open tournament with a time control of 90 minutes with 30 seconds per move increment and 30 minutes grace time.

Starting rank

No.   Name FideID FED Rtg Club/City
1 IM Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh 5053196 IND 2408 MAH
2 IM Sangma Rahul 5013615 IND 2328 RLY
3   Singh S. Vikramjit 5006090 IND 2229 MAN
4 FM Sauravh Khherdekar 5008646 IND 2222 MAH
5 FM Dutta Joydeep 5016592 IND 2168 WB
6   Raghav Srivathsav V 5073316 IND 2146 Tel
7   Santu Mondal 5025354 IND 2130 IT , DEL
8   Sahu Rajendra Kumar 5010560 IND 2070 Odisha
9   Arindam Mukherjee 5004080 IND 2066 WB
10   Debasish Mukherjee 5008620 IND 2060 WB

The tournament was pretty strong and the top seed Nubairshah Shaikh was a clear favourite to win the title. He experienced a casualty in round five when he lost to 12th seed Rupankar Nath.

Rupankar Nath vs Nubairshah Sheikh

In this clearly better position Black was about to make his move, but lost on time. Nubair's post mortem analysis show that if he had exchanged on e3 and pushed his pawn to f4, fixing the pawns on g2 and f3, he was clearly winning. But the variations are not so obvious and there can be a lot to be learnt from this analysis.

[Event "Late Trilochand Dhakal Fide Rating"]
[Site "Gangtok"]
[Date "2017.02.03"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Nath, Rupankar"]
[Black "M.Nubairshah, Shaikh"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E94"]
[WhiteElo "2058"]
[BlackElo "2408"]
[Annotator "Nubairshah Shaikh"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/1b2k2p/1p4p1/p1p1bp2/PnP2N2/1P2B3/5PPP/1B3K2 w - - 0 33"]
[PlyCount "25"]
[EventDate "2017.02.01"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "IND"]
[SourceDate "2017.02.01"]
{Hello Guys! This is for the first time I am going annotate something. It
feels great to share my analysis with you. So lets talk about the game.
Basically, my opponent opted for exchange variation in KID & after few moves
we reached a roughly equal position.} 33. Bd2 Kf6 {Trying to improve the piece
placement.} 34. h3 Bc6 35. f3 Na6 36. Ne2 Nc7 37. Bc2 Ne6 38. Kf2 g5 39. Bd1 h6
{I had only a minute left on my clock, so made some random moves.} 40. Bc2 Bb2
41. h4 Nd4 42. hxg5+ hxg5 43. Nxd4 Bxd4+ 44. Be3 $2 {Believe it or not, this
is already the final mistake of the game.} (44. Ke2 $142 Bb2 45. Bd3 f4 46. Bc2
(46. Be4 {I think this is also enough to make draw} Bxe4 47. fxe4 Ke5 48. Kf3
$11 {followed by g3.}) 46... Ke5 47. Kd3 Bd7 48. Be1 $1 $11 (48. Ke2 Kd4 49.
Bg6 Ba3 50. Kd1 Bb4 51. Bxb4 axb4 52. Kd2 g4 $19 {Black will eventually win
thanks to his good bishop.})) 44... Ke5 $1 $19 {Now Black is winning here!} ({
Another winning way was...} 44... f4 45. Bxd4+ cxd4 46. Bd3 (46. Ke2 Ke5 47.
Bd3 (47. Kd3 Bd7 $19) 47... Bd7 48. Kd2 Kd6 49. Be4 Kc5 50. Kd3 g4 $19) 46...
Bd7 $19 {The bishop is going to f5.} 47. Ke2 Bf5 48. Bxf5 Kxf5 49. Kd3 Ke5 50.
Kd2 Kd6 51. Ke2 Kc5 52. Kd3 Kb4 53. Kxd4 Kxb3 $19) 45. Ke2 {I was calculating
the clearest way in which I could win the position. Just when I was about to
touch my bishop, I saw in horror that I had run out of time.} (45. Ke2 Bxe3 {
shoulde be played to get into Good B vs Bad B .} (45... f4 $6 46. Bc1 g4 47.
Bd2 {should be equal}) 46. Kxe3 f4+ $19 47. Kd3 {The most critical line.} (47.
Kd2 g4 (47... Kd4 $2 48. Bf5 $11) 48. fxg4 (48. Bd1 Bxf3 $1 49. Bxf3 gxf3 50.
gxf3 Kd4 $19) (48. Ke2 gxf3+ 49. gxf3 Kd4 $19) 48... Bxg2 49. g5 (49. Ke2 {
transposes to the main line.}) 49... Bh3 $19 50. g6 Kf6 51. Ke2 Bg4+ 52. Kf2
Bh5 $19) (47. Ke2 Kd4 48. Kd2 Bd7 $1 (48... g4 $2 49. fxg4 $1 Bxg2 50. g5 Ke5
51. Ke2 $11) 49. Bg6 g4 50. fxg4 (50. Bh7 g3 $19) 50... Bxg4 51. Bc2 Bd7 52.
Bd1 Bf5 53. Be2 Ke5 54. Kc3 Kf6 55. Bd3 Bd7 56. Be4 Kg5 57. Kd2 Kg4 58. Ke2 Kg3
59. Kf1 Bg4 60. Ke1 Bh5 61. Bd5 Bg6 62. Kd2 Kf2 $19 {Get the bishop to f1 and
this is easily won.}) 47... g4 48. fxg4 (48. Bd1 gxf3 49. Bxf3 (49. gxf3 Be8 $1
50. Be2 (50. Kc3 Kf6 $19) 50... Bh5 51. Bd1 Bg6+ 52. Kc3 Kf6) 49... Bd7 50. Be4
(50. Kc3 Bf5 $19) 50... Bg4 51. Bf3 Bf5+ 52. Kc3 Kf6 53. Kd2 Kg5 54. Bd5 Kh4
55. Bc6 Kg3 56. Bd5 Kf2 57. Bc6 Bg4 58. Kd3 Be2+ 59. Ke4 Kg3 $1 $19) 48... Bxg2
49. Ke2 Kf6 $19 50. Kf2 Bc6 51. Bf5 Kg5 52. Ke2 Kh4 53. Kf2 Bb7 54. Ke2 (54.
Be6 Be4 $19) 54... Bg2 $1 55. Kf2 Bc6 {Improving the position of the bishop.}
56. Ke2 Kg3 57. Kd2 f3 58. Ke3 Bd7 59. Bxd7 f2 60. Ke2 Kg2 61. Bc6+ Kg1 62. Ke3
f1=Q $19) 1-0


This lucky break for Rupankar Nath proved to be just what he needed as he raced to 7.0/7

Rupankar beat Arindham Mukherjee and Raghav Shrivastav in rounds six and seven. He drew his last two rounds against Laltu Chatterjee and Santu Mondal to finish the event with 8.0/9. He gained 50 Elo points and the first prize of one lakh rupees.

For Nubairshah Sheikh, his loss to Rupankar Nath was the turning point of the event. He scored 8.0/9, but due to direct encounter tie-break had to settle for the second spot.

Nubair won his next four rounds against Mukesh Mandloi, Manush Shah, Vikramjit Singh and Sumit Grover. His last round win against Sumit Grover was especially interesting.


Sumit Grover - Nubairshah Sheikh

One of the problems you face when playing against lower rated players is that with the black pieces it is not at all easy to win if your opponent goes for a drawish line. The exchange variation of the King's Indian, is different from other drawish lines like the exchange Slav. The reason for that is - there is an imbalance on the board. White is ahead in development and has more space, but Black is looking to make use of the d4 square weakness. There are white players who have made this a weapon where they play for a win. One such grandmaster is Jesse Kraai. It all depends on the intention of the players. If he wants to play for a win, he can with this opening. It was clear that Sumit Grover was not looking out for his chances with this system. Before you can have a look at the game with Sheikh's analysis, here's some food for thought:

White has just taken on c5. What should Black play?

...Nxc5 is not at all a bad move. But ...bxc5 is just so strong.

It opens the b-file and enhances the control on the d4 square. Black is just better.
[Event "Late Trilochand Dhakal Fide Rating"]
[Site "Gangtok"]
[Date "2017.02.06"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Grover, Sumit"]
[Black "Shaikh, Nubairshah"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E94"]
[WhiteElo "1934"]
[BlackElo "2408"]
[Annotator "Nubairshah Shaikh"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "r1b1rbk1/pp3p1p/2p1nnp1/4p3/2P1P3/P1N1B2P/1P1NBPP1/R2R2K1 w - - 0 15"]
[PlyCount "54"]
[EventDate "2017.02.01"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "IND"]
[SourceDate "2017.02.01"]
{Once again my opponent opted for exchanged variation in KID} 15. Nb3 (15. Nf3
{Maybe this was needed} Bc5 $5 (15... Nc5 $11)) (15. b4 Nd4 (15... a5 16. c5
Nd4 17. Bd3 Be6) 16. Bd3 a5 17. c5 Be6 $1 {Roughly Equal}) 15... a5 $1 $15 {
I was playing for dark squares} (15... b6 $5) (15... Nd7 $5) 16. a4 (16. Na4
Nxe4 17. Nb6 Ra6 $15) 16... Bb4 (16... Nd7 $5) (16... Nf4 $5 17. Bf1 Nd7 $15)
17. f3 Nd7 18. Na2 Bf8 $1 {Just saving the B is advantageous in such type of
positions.} (18... Ndc5 {Premature} 19. Nbc1 $1 $11 {& White looks in good
shape to hold this position}) 19. Nac1 Ndc5 (19... b6 $142) 20. Kh2 (20. Nxc5
Bxc5 21. Bxc5 Nxc5 22. Nd3 (22. Ra3 $1 Be6 $1 (22... Ne6 $5 23. Nb3 c5 $1 $15)
23. Nb3 Nd7 $15) 22... Nb3 23. Ra3 Nd4 24. Kf2 f6 $15) 20... b6 $1 21. Nxc5
Bxc5 22. Bxc5 bxc5 $1 $15 (22... Nxc5 $5 23. Rd6 Re6 24. Rd8+ Kg7 25. Ra3 $1 (
25. Nd3 $2 Nb7 $19) 25... Re7 $1 $15 26. Rd6 Rc7 $1 27. Nb3 Nb7 28. Rd2 Rd7 $15
) 23. Nd3 Rb8 $1 (23... Nd4 $142 24. Bf1 $6 Nb3 25. Ra3 Rb8 $17) 24. Nxe5 $2 (
24. Rab1 f6 25. b3 Kf7 $15 {& its black who is making prgress}) 24... Nf4 $1
25. Nxc6 Rb6 $6 (25... Ra8 $142 26. Bf1 Bb7 27. Rd6 Ra6 $17 28. Nd8 Rxd6 29.
Nxb7 Rc6 30. Nxa5 Rb6 $17 31. Nc6) 26. Ne7+ $2 (26. Rd6 $142 $11 {to be honest
we both missed this} Nxe2 (26... Bb7 27. Ne7+ Rxe7 28. Rxb6 Nxe2) (26... Kf8
27. Bf1 Bb7 28. Nxa5 Rxd6 29. Nxb7 Rc6 30. a5 Rb8 31. a6 Ne6 32. b4 $1 cxb4 33.
c5 $11) 27. Ne7+ Rxe7 28. Rxb6 Nd4) (26. Nxa5 Nxe2) 26... Rxe7 27. Rd8+ Kg7 28.
Rxc8 Nxe2 29. Rxc5 Rxb2 30. Rxa5 Nd4 $1 31. Rf1 Rc7 32. c5 Rc2 33. Kg3 Nb3 34.
Rb5 Nxc5 35. Ra1 (35. a5 Ra2) 35... Rd7 $1 36. a5 Rdd2 37. a6 (37. f4 Rxg2+ 38.
Kf3 Ne6 $19) 37... Rxg2+ 38. Kf4 Ne6+ 39. Ke5 Rg5+ 40. Kd6 Rxb5 41. a7 Rb6+ (
41... Rb6+ {& here White Resigns, very comfortable victory in the Final game.}
42. Kd7 Rd2+ 43. Ke7 (43. Ke8 Rd8+ 44. Ke7 Rb7#) 43... Rb7+ 44. Ke8 Rd8#) 0-1


The above game just shows us how to play on the dark squares and was very well played by the IM from Mumbai. 

The top three places of the tournament: Rupankar Nath (right), Nubairshah Sheikh (centre) and Rohit Gurung (left).

Local boy Rohit Gurung turned out to be the surprise of the tournament. He not only finished third, winning Rs.30,000, but he also gained 144 Elo points.

To remain unbeaten with a rating of 1844 in such a tournament is a great achievement

Second seed Rahul Sangma lost to Laltu Chatterjee and had to be content with the seventh spot

Final Ranking after 9 Rounds

Rk. SNo   Name FED Rtg Club/City Pts.  TB1   TB2   TB3 
1 12   Nath Rupankar IND 2058 WB 8,0 1,0 7,0 51,5
2 1 IM Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh IND 2408 MAH 8,0 0,0 8,0 50,5
3 24   Gurung Rohit IND 1843 Sikkim 7,5 0,0 6,0 50,0
4 10   Debasish Mukherjee IND 2060 WB 7,0 0,0 7,0 47,0
5 4 FM Sauravh Khherdekar IND 2222 MAH 7,0 0,0 7,0 45,5
6 7   Santu Mondal IND 2130 IT , DEL 7,0 0,0 6,0 49,0
7 2 IM Sangma Rahul IND 2328 RLY 7,0 0,0 6,0 48,5
8 5 FM Dutta Joydeep IND 2168 WB 7,0 0,0 5,0 47,5
9 9   Arindam Mukherjee IND 2066 WB 6,5 0,0 6,0 50,5
10 6   Raghav Srivathsav V IND 2146 Tel 6,5 0,0 6,0 48,5

Complete list of rankings

A young talent from Assam: Shahil Dey

Nilesh Jindal is an enthusiastic organizer from Haryana

Chess doll Dinakshi Subhedi

Woman player from Nepal: Lakshmi Kandel

Youngest player of the event Nihang Limbu

Rashmi Patra from Orissa

The Chess passionate: Surendra Kerung Subba of Kalimpong

The Gentleman: Tirth Suba

About the City and around

Gangtok is the capital of the mountainous northern Indian state of Sikkim. Established as a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the 1840s, the city became capital of an independent monarchy after British rule ended, but joined India in 1975. Players enjoyed the sunny but cold weather of Gangtok and Kanchanjunga view even from tournament venue. Since the last two rounds were single rounds a lot of players went for city sight seeing.

A view of the Kachenjunga, third highest mountain in the world! 

Arbiters and officials on a Himalayan Tour!

Well known player from Sikkim, Sushmita Lama enjoys the Yak ride near Tsomgo Lake

This most visited lake is Located 35 km from Gangtok and at an altitude of 12,000 ft. the lake is covered with snow cover from early winter to late spring.

IA K.C. Umesh and Madhab Prasad Pradhan of Nepal in the traditional dress of Sikkim

The two IMs went to the Bakthang waterfall....

...and then wore the traditional dress of the place...

...and ended their day at the M.G. Road in Gangtok. A very famous street

FA Mahendra Dhakal, Secretary of Sikkim Chess Association started chess activity here in Sikkim in the year 2009 from his own Tadong Area with a few neighbourhood boys and girls. He started making training them as chess players and after a couple of years he introduced them to play in tournaments. Since then, a huge radical growth can be seen here. Just a few month back, Sikkim Chess Association organized a school tournament in which more than 450 school children participated! A remarkable and highly appreciable chess development! A few strong players have also developed in the state with a rating of more than 2200. I won't be surprised if in some years we will have the first IM followed by a GM from Sikkim!

Mahendra Dhakal's Knight chess academy

Many pictures were taken at the event, but this one is my favourite. It is only because of such tournaments that the local kids get a chance to come together and enjoy this beautiful game of chess!


About the author

IA Dharmendra Kumar is one of the most well known and respected arbiters in India. He is perhaps the only person in the country, who makes a living out of being an arbiter. Visiting new places, witnessing the natural beauty and spreading the game of chess are his main interests. He is also an author for the ChessBase India hindi newspage. 

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