Gawain Jones leads in Commonwealth Championship in Ekurhuleni

by ChessBase
6/30/2011 – The top seed GMs have survived mostly unharmed in this South African event, fighting for maximum points in the early rounds, a task not made easy by ambitious youngsters (Nigel Short: "My opponent was rated a thousand points below me but made me work!"). After seven rounds English GM Gawain Jones leads with 6.5 points, followed by 15 players with 60./5 each. Report and videos.

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Commonwealth Chess Championships debut in Africa!

Report by Graham Jurgensen, Convenor of the Championships

A record field of over 700 chess fans (and fanatics) have gathered at Emperors Palace Hotel Casino and Convention Centre in Ekurhuleni, South Africa for the hosting of the 2011 Commonwealth & South African Open Chess Championships. The field boasts more than 40 titled players and is headed by three times past champion GM Nigel Short from England. There is also a strong Indian contingent present including former World Junior Chess Champions GM Abhijeet Gupta and IM Harika Dronovalli.

With two double rounds in two days the start of the 2011 Commonwealth & South African Open Chess Championships has been brutal and the top players have been in survival mode as they fight for maximum points in the early rounds.

"It's hard work, you know," says Nigel Short in his interview (Vijay Kumar's round three report below). "I was outrating my first round opponent by a thousand points, but still I'm having to work in every game. It's always difficult when you have juniors who are underrated and improving." Here's the first-round game Nigel refers to:

A number of up and coming youngsters have impressed to date. IM Sahaj Grover, who entered the event with an “active” FIDE rating of 2496, secured a perfect start of 5/5 before drawing with GM Nigel Short in round six. This has secured him the required rating points to cross the key 2500 rating barrier and he now requires two further GM norms to secure his GM title.

Twelve-year-old WFM Ivana Maria Furtado (rated 1999) got off to a blistering start and
found herself paired against GM Abhijit Kunte in the third round, a game she drew

15-year-old IM Sahaj Grover on the way to a 5.0/5 start

FM Nicholas van der Nat (2308), the reigning SA champion caused the first major upset when he defeated GM David Smerdon from Australia in round five. In the background Indian TV journalist Vijay Kumar, whose video reports are given below. A total of five players achieved a perfect start of 5.0/5, including top seeds GM Nigel Short and GM Gawain Jones.

Younger players participating in the development section of the championship. What makes the event special is the fact that the top players are playing in a single venue with more than 700 amateurs, many of whom are up and coming juniors.

A number of tours have been arranged by the organisers so that visiting players can get the full African experience whilst in the country. The players will be visiting the Lion and Rhino Reserve and the Sterkfontein Caves in the next few days. Pictures from these excursions will follow in due course.

Top starting rank list after round seven

Rk. Title Name FED Rtg Pts.  TB1   TB2   TB3 
1 GM Jones Gawain CB ENG 2596 6.5 15.5 32.50 2103
2 IM Huschenbeth Niclas GER 2502 6.0 15.5 29.75 2023
3 IM Grover Sahaj IND 2485 6.0 15.5 28.75 2119
4 GM Gupta Abhijeet IND 2604 6.0 15.0 29.50 2131
5 IM Kobese Watu AKW RSA 2355 6.0 15.0 28.00 2018
6 IM Mokal Prathamesh S IND 2405 6.0 15.0 28.00 1973
7 GM Short Nigel D ENG 2682 6.0 14.5 28.50 2164
8 FM van der Nat Nicholas P RSA 2308 6.0 14.5 27.00 1992
9 GM Smerdon David AUS 2520 6.0 14.5 25.50 2022
10 FM Jere Daniel ZAM 2344 6.0 14.0 27.00 2049
11 IM Harika Dronovali IND 2520 6.0 14.0 25.75 2048
12 GM Laxman Rajaram IND 2446 6.0 14.0 25.50 1985
13 GM Kunte Abhijit IND 2526 6.0 13.5 27.00 1983
14 IM Ringoir Tanguy BEL 2399 6.0 13.5 25.75 1933
15 CM Modi Jaishil RSA 1790 6.0 13.5 24.00 1902
16 Davies Jason S RSA 2048 6.0 10.0 22.00 1778
17 GM Lafuente Pablo ARG 2555 5.5 16.5 27.50 2108
18 WGM Subbaraman Meenakshi IND 2317 5.5 14.5 25.75 1958
19 IM Sachdev Tania IND 2416 5.5 14.0 23.00 1879
20 CM Bouah Lyndon RSA 2147 5.5 14.0 22.00 1928
21 Dole Anant RSA 2103 5.5 13.5 24.00 1936
22 Klaasen Calvin J RSA 2068 5.5 13.5 22.25 1934
23 Simutowe Musa ZAM 2119 5.5 13.0 22.25 1882
24 Makoto Rodwell ZIM 2166 5.5 12.5 21.00 1778
25 Pitso Fusi P RSA 1949 5.5 11.5 19.75 1876
26 Stevens Tristan AUS 2087 5.5 10.5 18.75 1705

In round eight Nigel Short has white against Gawain Jones, Abhijeet Gupta (2604) plays IM Tanguy Ringoir (2399), Sahaj Grover (2485) plays Jason Davies (2048) and Niclas Huschenbeth (2502) plays FM Nicholas van der Nat (2308). Watch it on Playchess.

Video reports by Vijay Kumar

Round three report

Round four report

Round five report

Round six report. Vijay Kumar IBS [Retd] is the former Chief Producer of
TV News & Sports, Doordarshan Indian TV Network


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