Chess in Paradise: the Ravana Challenge in Sri Lanka

10/24/2009 – GM Mikheil Mchedlishvili of Georgia won it, but more relevantly this GM Open was staged in a luxurious five star hotel, the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, with accommodation to the GMs provided in the hotel itself. And there was the free day pleasure trip to Kandy, a world famous tourist spot, where the players got to meet the Indian Ocean and a bevy of friendly elephants.

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Ravana Challenge International, Colombo, Sri Lanka

By R. Anantharam – Chief Arbiter

It is rare that a GM open tournament is organized in a luxurious five star hotel with accommodation to the GMs in the hotel itself. The Ravana Open in Sri Lanka, with a prize fund of USD 20,000, is such a rarity. The tournament, comprising twelve GMs and players from fifteen countries, was organized by the Blue and Gold Chess Club from 12 to 19 September in the Ceylon Continental Hotel, the first ever five star hotel in Sri Lanka. After the long war over many years Sri Lanka is slowly on the rise, and chess is becoming popular here among the die hard fans of cricket.


A view from a five-star hotel room

GM Mikheil Mchedlishvili of Georgia was the top seed, followed by GM Alexander Shabalov of USA. After defeating Shabalov, Elshan Moradiabadi, the grandmaster from Iran, led with four points in as many rounds. In the sixth round, Mikheil posted a win over Petr Kostenko of Kazakhsatan, Vadim Malakhatko of Belgium defeated Krasimir Rusev of Bulgaria and Vladimir Georgiev of Macedonia overwhelmed Tigran Kotanjian of Armenia to join Elshan at the top.


The playing hall, with Krasimir Rusev of Bulgaria battling it out with Sunil Weeramantry,
step-father of the US champion Hikaru Nakamura


All the winners lien up for a group photo

The leaders drew among themselves, enabling Anton Filippov of Uzbekistan who finished third in the famous Kolkata Open, his compatriot Anuar Ismagambetov and Merab Gagunashvili of Georgia to catch them. In the eighth round Georgiev emerged sole leader, defeating the Indian IM Dinesh Sharma. Mchedlishvili joined him in the lead after the penultimate round, with a win over Vadim Malakhatko. The summit clash between the two top seeds, Medlishvili and Shabalov, ended in a fighting draw and a similar result between Georgiev and Merab Gagunashvili of Georgia resulted in a tie between Mchedlishvili and Georgiev for the top slot. The better tiebreak favored Mchedlishvili, who won the title and a cash prize of 20,000 US dollars.


The winner of the tournament Mikheil Mchedlishvili

It is rare that a GM open tournament is organized in a luxurious five star hotel with accommodation to the GMs in the hotel itself                                                                                

Final Ranking after ten rounds

Rk. Title Name FED Rtg Pts.  TB1   TB2   TB3 
1 GM Mchedlishvili Mikheil GEO 2613 7.5 65.5 60.5 55.0
2 GM Georgiev Vladimir MKD 2537 7.5 60.0 56.0 51.5
3 GM Shabalov Alexander USA 2607 7.0 66.0 61.0 55.0
4 GM Moradiabadi Elshan IRI 2547 7.0 65.0 60.0 55.0
5 GM Filippov Anton UZB 2595 7.0 64.0 59.5 53.5
6 GM Gagunashvili Merab GEO 2564 7.0 64.0 59.0 53.5
7 GM Malakhatko Vadim BEL 2569 7.0 63.0 58.0 52.5
8 GM Murshed Niaz BAN 2398 7.0 60.0 55.0 50.0
9 GM Ismagambetov Anuar KAZ 2528 6.5 65.0 60.5 55.5
10 GM Kotanjian Tigran ARM 2553 6.5 61.0 56.5 51.0
11 GM Kostenko Petr KAZ 2491 6.5 60.5 56.0 51.0
12 IM Toufighi Homayoon IRI 2480 6.5 58.5 54.5 49.5
13 GM Rusev Krasimir BUL 2549 6.5 58.5 54.0 49.0
14 IM Saptarshi Roy IND 2389 6.5 55.5 51.5 47.0
15 FM Maheswaran P IND 2347 6.5 54.0 50.0 46.0
16 IM Sharma Dinesh K IND 2335 6.5 53.5 50.0 46.0
17 FM Das Sayantan IND 2235 6.0 59.5 55.0 50.0
18 IM Zozulia Anna BEL 2338 6.0 58.5 54.5 50.0
19 WGM Soumya Swaminathan IND 2297 6.0 58.0 54.0 49.5
20   Hapuarachchi H L M SRI 1998 6.0 46.5 45.0 41.5
21   Fonseka C K D SRI 1981 6.0 45.5 45.0 41.5

Picture Gallery

The legend says that Ravana was the king of Sri Lanka. According to some sources (Forbes, History of Chess, 1860) the game was invented between four or five thousand years ago, by the wife of King Ravana of Ceylon, when the capital was besieged by Rama. The legends of Rama and Ravana is well known in India and Sri Lanka and Ramas victory over Ravana is still celebrated in India.

Sri Lanka is a small tropical island at the bottom of India and is also known as the pearl of the Indian Ocean due to the shape of the country. Sri Lanka is known for its excellent beaches and quality tea and apparel. The tournament in Ravana was a memorable one for most of the GMs, as they had a pleasure trip to Kandy, a world famous tourist spot.


On the beach: IM Saptarshi Roy, IND, with GM Alex Shablov, USA


Hunks: GMs Merab Gagunashvili, GEO, and Vladimir Georgiev, MKD, after a swim
in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean


Free as a bird: GMs Tigran Kotanjian, ARM, and Vladimir Georgiev, MKD, enjoy the breeze


GM Shablov with super-talent Under-12 World Champion Das Sayantan, IND


A Sri Lankan village which, Shablov said, reminded him of Latvia


GMs Vladimir Georgiev, MKD, and Rusev Krasimir, BUL, possibly seeking help from a Hindu god


GM Malakhatco Vadim, BEL, IM Anna Zozulia, BEL, GM Alex Shabalov, USA, GM Petr Kostenko, KAZ, GM Filippov Anton, UZB, GM Ismagambetov Anuar, KAZ, ready to meet the elephants


Elephants taking a bath in the river


GMs Alex Shabolov, USA, and Peter Kostenko, KAZ, enjoying an elephant ride


Anna Zozulia on an elephant ride


Some players are satisfied with just befriending the elephants


GM Anuar Ismagamvetov, KAZ, getting a herbal massage


British Heitage: an old canon facing the sea near the hotel

R. Anantharam, Chief Arbiter

R. Anantharam is a retired professor of chemistry. He is a member of Swiss pairings Programs Commission, FIDE, and has served as chief arbiter in

  • the World Schools Championship Singapore 2008
  • the Asian Individual championship 2005
  • the Asian Junior 2007,2008 and 2009
  • the Asian Youth 2009 and deputy chief arbiter in World Youth Vietnam 2008
  • and as Technical Official – World Mind Sports, Beijing 2008

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