Invitation to Kolkata, City of Joy

by Priyadarshan Banjan
3/4/2015 – The Indian city of Kolkata is a big bustling metropolis that is often referred to as "the city of joy". Kolkata indeed holds many attractions one of which is chess. From 15th to 24th March it will be host to the Second International Grand Masters Chess tournament. A strong open that offers a chance to play a good tournament in an interesting place.

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Welcome to the city of joy: Invitation to the 2nd Kolkata GM Tournament, 2015

“…I think India has more players than China, especially at a youth level, so I think right now it’s probably more likely that India will dominate rather than China…”- Magnus Carlsen

India as a chess-playing nation is oozing with talented young players – a sign of their impending domination the world champion feels. According to the AICF website, there are in total 46,726 FIDE-rated players in this country. The speed at which the Indian talents are developing calls for them to gain more opportunities by playing tournaments of the highest caliber. Gradually, there has been an increasing trend of Grandmaster level tournaments in India over the past few years, which has enabled the Indian players to hone their skills by competing against excellent opposition. The city of Kolkata has been in the forefront in hosting such events in India. Now, it comes to the fore once again as it hosts the 2nd International Grandmasters Tournament from 15th March, 2015 to 24th March, 2015.

Kolkata ( ) is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. It is also the commercial capital of Eastern India, located on the east bank of the Ganga (Hooghly) river. The city of Kolkata has 4.5 million residents, and the metropolitan area, including suburbs, has a population of approximately 15.7 million, making it the third most populous metropolitan area in India and the 13th most populous urban area in the world. The city is also classified as the eighth largest urban agglomeration in the world. Kolkata, erstwhile Calcutta, is also known as the City of Joy.

The Howrah Bridge (Photo: Likhit Chilukuri)

The Victoria Memorial (Photo: Biswanath Banerjee)

The Dibyendu Barua Chess Academy (DBCA) and Allsport Management will be organizing the 2nd International Grandmasters Chess Tournament from 15th March, 2015 to 24th March, 2015. The event is being held under the aegis of the  Bengal Chess Association on behalf of the All India Chess Federation (AICF) and FIDE. The tournament will be held in Swiss-league format spanning nine rounds at a leisurely pace of one afternoon round per day (last round will be in the morning). The time control for the event will be 90 minutes plus 30 seconds increment from move one for the entire game. Players with a FIDE rating 2000 and above only are eligible to participate.

Schedule of the tournament

The Prize Structure

The tournament has a prize fund of Rs. 10 lakhs (approximately 17.000 $). As per the tournament regulations, 1 dollar will be considered equal to 60 Indian rupees, which mean the first prize translates to roughly 3,333$. Although the prize-fund is not in the league of other world-class Open tournaments, Kolkata has its own unique charm, which has resulted in quite some strong players confirming their participation. The star attraction of the event is bound to be…

… An ex World championship challenger (PCA), writer, coach, commentator,
olive farmer, guitarist and a sexy beast (twitter)

GM Sandipan Chanda, (Elo. 2574), second of Vishy Anand, is
all set to participate (Photo: André Schulz)

With ongoing negotiations by the organizers, the list of participants is bound to get stronger. Players from around the world are expected to take part in this event, which has GM and IM norm opportunities up for grabs.

The titled players will be allowed free entry to the tournament. Untitled players wishing to play the tournament now have a novel and hassle free option to pay their entry fees - by doing so though

Organizers are making every possible effort to give impetus to junior players. Of late, the focus of the Bengal Chess Association has been to spread chess outside the city of Kolkata – especially in the rural areas of the West Bengal state so that more and more players take up the game.

Towards the end of January, West Bengal Chess Welfare Society, a group of parents of chess-playing kids, organized an Open tournament for the benefit of Indian players, which was won by 17-years-old IM Sayantan Das while former World U-12 Champion IM Srinath Naraynan finished second.

Secretary of Bengal Chess Association IM Atanu Lahiri with IM Sayantan Das (Elo. 2449)

IM N. Srinath (Elo 2454)

The tournament was held at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations which is also the venue for the 2nd Kolkata International Open. The council is an autonomous organization of the Government of India and is responsible for India’s cultural relations with other countries and their people.

Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Kolkata

Impressions of Kolkata city

On a personal note, I made a trip to Calcutta (I prefer to call It by its older name) to play the tournament mentioned above and found the city truly joyous, with the people radiating positivity and possessing a helpful character. Calcutta was the capital of the erstwhile British India. The architecture is a rare blend between the old and the modern – classic British era buildings intermingle freely with modern structures. I travelled to Calcutta via train and when I stepped out of the station, I took a novel and enjoyable route to the venue (which is also the venue for the International Open in March). If you happen to reach Calcutta via air (as most non-Indians will), do make sure to visit the following places!

Howrah Station Jetty (Photo: Likhit Chilukuri)

Right in front of the Howrah Railway station is a Ferry Service Point, which is a water transportation network for the city on the Ganga River. Ganga is known as Hooghly in Calcutta. I bought a ticket to Fairlie Ghat which cost me only 5 rupees (less than a cent).

A ferry (Photo: Likhit Chilukuri)

These ferries were often pompously decorated! (Photo: Likhit Chilukuri)

It was the first time in my life that I was travelling by an inland water transport and the experience of watching the sun set, the Howrah bridge in the distance while traversing on the Ganaga (Hooghly) river was one of a kind! After alighting at the Fairlie Ghat, I took a taxi to the venue – Indian Council for Cultural Relations, which was 15-minutes ride in the evening Calcutta traffic.

Trams on the street (Photo: Biswanath Banerjee)

Calcutta is one of those few places where the tram system still exists. It is operated by Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC) and is the only operating tram network in India. It is in service since 1902.

A bookstall carved into a wall across the street! Needless to say, the people of Calcutta love their books.

On your travels though the city, you may come across locals doing something familiar.

It seems that the games haven’t finished yet, and the numbers keep increasing!

Eden Gardens ( )

With a seating capacity of almost 70.000, the Eden Gardens is the largest stadium in India. The stadium is primarily famous as a cricket ground. Cricket is a very famous sport in India and the Eden is often referred to as “Cricket’s answer to the Colosseum”.

The Sunderbans ( )

The Sunderbans are a part of the world’s largest delta formed by the mighty river Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna. It is a stretch of impenetrable mangrove forests of great bio-diversity and is home to over 250 Bengal Tigers. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and is situated some 100 odd kilometers from Kolkata. If you have time to spare after the tournament, this place is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

The temperature in Kolkata in March is usually around 22 degrees to 32 degrees Celsius – a pleasant time to play chess.

Contact (for VISA related and other purposes):
Mr. Neeraj Kumar Mishra
Phone: +91-9471190041

For more information, please refer to the tournament brochure.

Priyadarshan Banjan is a 23-year-old club player from India. He works as an editor for ChessBase News and ChessBase India. He is a chess fanatic and an avid fan of Vishy Anand. He also maintains a blog on a variety of topics.


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