Commonwealth 2018: A wealth of chess improvement

by Sagar Shah
6/29/2018 – Chess reports are filled with news and updates, but this report from Commonwealth 2018 is different. It is filled with high level of instructional content. IM SAGAR SHAH, says, "To go through this entire report will take two hours of your time. But if you do it carefully, it is bound to teach you a lot about chess." Games, training, video and, to add more flavour to it, you have some world class photography by Amruta Mokal. | Pictured: Standing out from the crowd - GM Deepan Chakkravarthy!

Learn from the Classics Learn from the Classics

Sagar Shah shows you on this DVD how you can use typical patterns used by the Master of the past in your own games. From opening play to middlegame themes.


Lessons from Delhi

The Commonwealth of Nations, often known as simply the Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of 53 member states that are mostly former territories of the British Empire. The Commonwealth covers more than 29,958,050 km2, equivalent to 20% of the world's land area and spans all six inhabited continents. With an estimated population of over 2.4 billion people, nearly a third of the world population lives in Commonwealth countries!

This year the Commonwealth Championships — just like the last year — is divided into 15 categories. We have 14 age categories and one open event. Earlier, the age category prizes used to be given based on the open tournament itself, but since the last year, the Commonwealth Association have wanted to pit the youngsters against players of their age category in order to determine the medals. This is the reason why you have under-8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20 in both open and girls section, which comes to 14 age category events.

Deep Sengupta

Deep Sengupta is the top seed of the tournament | Photo: Amruta Mokal

In the absolute Open section, we find a very good turnout of Indian GMs, but the tournament lacks International Grandmasters.

Starting rank (top 10)

No. Name Rtg
1 Sengupta Deep 2565
2 Vaibhav Suri 2556
3 Deepan Chakkravarthy J. 2531
4 Lalith Babu M R 2529
5 Vishnu Prasanna. V 2525
6 Debashis Das 2522
7 Swapnil S. Dhopade 2495
8 Thejkumar M. S. 2495
9 Kunte Abhijit 2494
10 Karthik Venkataraman 2475

In the first round, Lalith Babu played a very nice game from the white side of the King's Indian and won against Karan Trivedi.


It's positions like these that Jacob Aagaard explains in the chapter "Comparison" of his book Grand Master Preparation - Calculation. What Jacob essentially mentions is that you go ahead with one line, for example, Bxe5 Bg5 Qxh3 Qd2 f4 and now in this position replace the bishop on e5 with pawn on e5, assuming that if you took dxe5 this position would have arisen! You have to compare both the positions in this particular manner and when that is done, you have to choose which move is better. It is quite apparent that the bishop on e5 works much better than one on g7 hemmed in by his own pawn on e5. Karan's decision to take on e5 with the pawn was wrong and he lost the game. ...Bxe5! would have given Black a good position.


Lalith Babu

Lalith Babu, number 23 in India | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The biggest casualty of day one was IM Tania Sachdev who blundered in a completely winning position against V.S. Negi.


Tania, in this position, played 43...Ra8. Can you see how White can come back into the game?


Tania's don't mess with me look! After her first-round loss, she was back with a win! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Even after Negi played 44.Ne2, the game would not have ended had Tania played Qc4, as Nxd4 is met with Rd8. But in the game, Tania played 44...Qc5 and after 45.Nxd4 Rd8 46.Qb3+, the game was all but over!

Abhijit Kunte

Abhijit Kunte won a nice game against talented J Saranya | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Try to assess the consequences of Nxd4. Kunte calculates the complexities well.

Strategy University Vol. 5: Winning Methods of great Players

Using ideas and games of great masters from the past, the famous Ukrainian trainer GM Adrian Mikhalchishin deals with various themes.

The art of winning won positions!

A lot of people complain that they are unable to win winning positions. Often they reach winning positions, and then blunder, or make inaccuracies and the game either ends in a draw or a loss. What exactly happens there? Why are we not able to finish a winning position? Well, apart from distractions, lack of concentration and getting really excited or scared, the main reason often comes down to lack of calculation. I think it is extremely important to keep your emotions aside and calculate with the same energy and resoluteness when you are winning, as you do at the start of a game. Here's a very good example that I would like to share with you to make my point clear:


White is just winning here. He has excellently placed pieces, black king is weak and to add insult to injury, black is a pawn down! But it is very important to calculate accurately and finish off the game in the next few moves. Look how Pranavananda goes wrong and very nearly makes a draw from this completely winning position.


Under-20 starting rank (top 10)

No. Name Rtg
1 Karthik Venkataraman 2475
2 Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh 2441
3 Krishna Teja N 2389
4 Sidhant Mohapatra 2369
5 Wagh Suyog 2289
6 Dixit Nikhil 2252
7 Pranavananda V 2184
8 Barath Kalyan M 2079
9 Dubey Sanchay 1900
10 Nagare Akhilesh 1883

Complete list via Chess-Results

In the Open section, Shantanu Bhambure fought really hard, but once he had a positionally lost situation out of the opening against a player of Deep Sengupta's calibre, it was not going to be easy to survive! Yet, the game was quite complex and there is a lot to learn from it.

I have analyzed the opening phase because I think Deep's idea is very interesting for white players who go for the London:



Shantanu Bhambure | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Vishnu Prasanna played a fine game out of a sedate opening to beat his top Kenyan opponent Ben Magana.


Vishnu Prasanna

Vishnu Prasanna (click or tap to expand) | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Debashis Das showed why a GM is a dangerous beast! 


First, he made a great positional decision and then followed it up with tactical brilliance!



Debashis Das | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Learning the Ruy Lopez, Exchange variation

Here is a very popular position of the exchange variation of the Ruy Lopez:


Do you have a problem playing it from the black side? Well, you should definitely spare 20 minutes and listen to GM Pravin Thipsay's fine analysis.

GM Pravin Thipsay explains the intricacies of his game against Kiran Manisha Mohanty

Deepan won a fine game with a rook sacrifice towards the end. Here's a small task for you:


Calculate the consequences of Rxg6 in this video and then check what Deepan has to say:

Always something to learn from Deepan!


White has just taken on d6. How do you defend as Black?

P. Karthikeyan shares his analysis with us

Final thoughts

We hope you got a bit wiser from the lessons above, though perhaps not as wise as IM Wazeer Khan from Uttar Pradesh, possibly the oldest active IM from India.


Wazeer looking wise | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Open standings after three rounds (top 10)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Vishnu Prasanna. V 3,0 0,0
2 Debashis Das 3,0 0,0
  Nitin S. 3,0 0,0
4 Thipsay Praveen M 3,0 0,0
5 Karthik Venkataraman 3,0 0,0
6 Laxman R.R. 3,0 0,0
  Meghna C H 3,0 0,0
8 Lalith Babu M R 2,5 0,0
9 Swapnil S. Dhopade 2,5 0,0
  Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh 2,5 0,0

All available games



Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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