Nigel Short wins Commonwealth Championship

12/10/2006 – For the second time. With an incredible 9/10 score in a strong field of 170 players, consisting of 12 GMs, 8 WGMs and more than 25 IMs/IWMs. So we must admit there is still a lot of milage left in British GM Nigel Short, who is also the President of the Commonwealth Chess Association. From the Championship in Mumbai, India, we bring you a giant pictorial report.

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Nigel All The Way!!

By Praful Zaveri

The LIC/ONGC/MTNL sponsored Commonwealth Chess Championship 2006, which was held at the Eskay Resorts, Borivali, Mumbai from the 20th to the 29th of November 2006, will mainly be remembered for the incredible effort of just one person on all the fronts. Yes, I am referring to the heroics of Super Grandmaster Nigel Short of England during his 15-days sojourn in India for this event.


Nigel Short, second time winner of the Commonwealth Championship

Prior to the start of the event he had conducted an extensive week-long session for his trainee, the prodigious GM Parimarjan Negi. Thereafter he fulfilled his duties as the President of the Commonwealth Chess Association to the core, by taking active interest to ensure the smooth conduct of the event and also to ensure maximum participation from the member countries. For the press and media, his outrageous remarks, his wonderful sense of humor and, last but not least, his deep insight into chess made him most sought after celebrity. The sports pages in Mumbai and India in particular, which thrives on cricket and nothing else, had extensive coverage of his exploits, both on and off the board! (excerpts are given below).

When it came to the tournament proper, he simply switched on his more comfortable role as a competitor and played uncompromising chess to defend his title with an incredible 9/10 in a strong field of 170 players, consisting of 12 GMs, 8 WGMs and more than 25 IMs/IWMs. Nigel pocketed the first prize of US $2,500 from the total prize fund of US $14,000.

Champagne time!

His uncompromising chess can be ascertained from the fact that of his ten games, only two games failed to produce results. He had to settle for two fighting draws against IM M.R.Venkatesh and GM Sandipan Chanda, which lasted 51 and 33 moves respectively. Agreed that the huge rating difference between him and the rest of the field necessitated this result on his part. However; whatever be the level, it is very difficult to maintain the same tempo. We shall have a look at two of his efforts, including the Evans Gambit against Abhijeet Gupta.

Short,Nigel (2677) - Gupta,Abhijeet (2481) [C52]
Commonwealth Chess Championship (5.1), 24.11.2006
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Ba5 6.d4 exd4 7.Qb3 Qf6 8.0-0 b5 9.Bxb5 Nge7 10.Bg5 Qg6 11.Bxe7 Nxe7 12.cxd4 0-0 13.Na3 Rb8 14.Qa4 Bc3 15.Rac1 Bb2 16.Rxc7 Qd6 17.Rxc8 Nxc8 18.Nc4 Qc7 19.Nxb2 Nd6 20.Bxd7 Rxb2 21.Bc6 Rfb8 22.a3 Rb1 23.g3 h6 24.e5 Nf5 25.Be4 Rxf1+ 26.Kxf1 Ne7 27.d5 Qc5 28.d6 Nd5 29.Qd4 Qb5+ 30.Kg2 Nb6 31.Ne1 Qa5 32.Nd3 Qxa3 33.Nc5 Rc8 34.d7 Nxd7 35.Nxd7 Qc3 36.Qxa7 Qd2 37.Qb7 Rd8 38.Bc6 Qc3 39.h4 h5 40.Be4 Qd2 41.Bd5 0-1

Chanda,Sandipan (2559) - Short,Nigel (2677) [E11]
Commonwealth Chess Championship (8.1), 27.11.2006
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ 4.Nbd2 d5 5.a3 Be7 6.e3 0-0 7.Bd3 c5 8.dxc5 a5 9.cxd5 Qxd5 10.Bc4 Qxc5 11.b4 Qc7 12.b5 Rd8 13.Bb2 a4 14.0-0 Nbd7 15.Rc1 Nc5 16.Qe2 b6 17.Ne5 Bb7 18.f4 Rf8 19.Ndf3 Nfe4 20.f5 Bd5 21.Nxf7 Rxf7 22.fxe6 Bxc4 23.Qxc4 Rxf3 24.Rxf3 Qd6 25.Rf7 Nf6 26.Bxf6 Bxf6 27.Rd7 Qxe6 28.Qxe6+ Nxe6 29.Rd6 Nc5 30.Rxb6 Bg5 31.Rc3 Re8 32.Rc6 Rxe3 33.Rxe3 ½-½.

Apart from Nigel's Gold Medal in the men's section, the tournament was an All-India affair as the Indian players grabbed 40 of the 42 medals at stake. Melissa Greef of RSA prevented an Indian clean-sweep by claiming Silver in the Girl's Under-12.

Besides, Nigel, the only other player to remain undefeated in the tournament was the 3rd seeded Indian GM, Sandipan Chanda. He played solidly throughout to claim a deserving silver medal with a score of 8/10.


Silver Medallist GM Sandipan Chanda

The brightest spot from the Indian players was the fantastic effort of IM M.R. Venkatesh, who fought Nigel Short for the lead for most of the tournament – until he found his nemesis, IM S.Vijayalakshmi. Apart from this setback, he was comfortable in all the games, including the one against Nigel, where he was better. Unfortunately, the GM norm eluded Venkatesh, as he could not meet the requisite number of foreign participants. This problem can be obviated by changing the format of the event so as to permit participation of only the selected players on the line of Chess Olympiad. This will also make a case of inclusion of Chess in the Commonwealth Games proper!


Bronze Medalist IM M.R. Venkatesh (right)

The Women's section was won by the reigning World U-18 champion, WGM Dronavali Harika with a score of 7/10. She pockets US $500. At one stage it appeared that IM S. Vijiyalakshmi was running with this title with 6.5/8 but could not garner any points from the last two rounds, losing to Nigel and Neelotpal Das. She had to be content with a silver medal. WGM Tania Sachdeva won Bronze medal.


WGM Dronavali Harika

The disappointment


GM S.S. Ganguly with a disappointing performance by his standards

The player who was expected to pose real challenge to the title defense of Nigel Short was the 2nd seeded Indian, GM S.S. Ganguly. Unfortunately, he just ran out of steam at the crucial time. His unexpected loss to the untitled Arghyadip Das at the half-way stage pushed him behind. He did recover some lost ground towards the end, but the last round defeat at the hands of Nigel put and end to his aspirations and he could just manage 7th place, a disappointment by the standards he has set. Detailed below is his demolition act against IM Rahul Shetty.

Ganguly,SS (2573) - Shetty,Rahul (2302) [C10]
Commonwealth Chess Championship (2.2), 21.11.2006
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.g3 Ngf6 6.Nxf6+ Nxf6 7.Bg2 c5 8.Nf3 cxd4 9.Qxd4 Qxd4 10.Nxd4 a6 11.0-0 Bd6 12.Rd1 Bc7 13.c4 0-0 14.Ne2 Rb8 15.Be3 Bd7 16.Ba7 Ra8 17.Bc5 Rfb8 18.Bd6 Bxd6 19.Rxd6 Kf8 20.Rad1 Ke7 21.b3 Ra7 22.Rb6 Kd8 23.Nc3 Kc7 24.Rbd6 Re8 25.b4 Re7 26.a4 Ra8 27.c5 Rf8 28.b5 axb5 29.axb5 Bc8 30.b6+ Kb8 31.Ra1 Nd7 32.Ne4 1-0.

Ganguly,SS (2677) - Short,Nigel (2573) [C68]
Commonwealth Chess Championship (10.1), 29.11.2006
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0-0 Bd6 6.d4 exd4 7.Qxd4 f6 8.Be3 Ne7 9.Nbd2 Be6 10.Rfd1 Ng6 11.Nc4 Bxc4 12.Qxc4 Qe7 13.Re1 0-0-0 14.Rad1 Rhe8 15.Bc1 c5 16.b3 Qe6 17.Qxe6+ Rxe6 18.Rd2 b5 19.Kf1 Rde8 20.Rde2 Kb7 21.g3 h5 22.Nd2 Ne5 23.f4 Nc6 24.c3 b4 25.c4 Nd4 26.Rf2 g5 27.Bb2 h4 28.Bxd4 cxd4 29.Ke2 hxg3 30.hxg3 Rh8 31.Rg1 d3+ 32.Kxd3 Bc5 33.Rff1 Rd6+ 0-1.

As far as the organization was concerned, Mr. Ravindra Dongre, Deputy President of the Commonwealth Chess Association and Vice-President of the All India Chess Federation did a great job to provide the maximum facilities to the players. The playing arena was simply fantastic and, with quality of players, it attracted good crowd every day. In all, the tournament can be termed a success on all fronts. It would be icing on the cake if and when the event enters the Guinness Book of World Records for being hosted for three consecutive times at Mumbai.

The tournament was sponsored by the three Public Sector giants in India: Oil & Natural Gas Commission (ONGC), Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited. The prize distribution ceremony was presided over by Mr. T. Thomas Mathew, Managing Director of the Life Insurance Corporation of India.

Photo Impressions of the Tournament


Nigel Short with dignitaries on the dais


Lighting the traditional lamp to signal the commencement of the event


The chief guest, the Honorable Union Minister of State, Prime Minister's Office, Mr. Prithviraj Chavan, honoring the current World Under-8 Champion Girish Koushik


Minister Prithviraj Chavan plays a few moves against Nigel


A packed house enjoying the ceremony


Let the games begin – with Nigel Short as top seed


GM Dibyendu Barua


GM Praveen Thipsay


GM Tejas Bakre


GM R.B. Ramesh


GM Wu Shaobin from Singapore


Grandmasters from across the border: Niaz Murshed...


...and GM Ziaur Rehman


IM S. Viji - the last two rounds undid her splendid efforts in the earlier rounds


WGM Tania Sachdev, India's chess beauty


WGM Nisha Mohota


Melissa Greef of the Republic of South Africa


Medalists Nigel Short and Tania Sachdev


Nigel with Thomas Mathew, Managing Director of Life Insurance
Corporation of India, one of the biggest financial institutions in the world


The Commonwealth champion with the organisation team

Final standings of the Commonwealth Open

No Title Name Rtg Fed DOB Pts  BH. Avg. Prize
1 GM Short Nigel D 2677 ENG 1965/06/01 9 63½ 2432 99,900
2 GM Sandipan Chanda 2550 IND 1983/08/13 8 60½ 2389 56,250
3 IM Venkatesh M R 2466 IND 1985/05/20 8 60 2386 56,250
4 GM Neelotpal Das 2490 IND 1982/04/20 60 2370 27,000
5 GM Kunte Abhijit 2524 IND 1977/03/03 57½ 2337 27,000
6 IM Sundararajan Kidambi 2451 IND 1982/12/29 7 61½ 2378 11,700
7 GM Ganguly SS 2573 IND 1983/02/24 7 59 2388 11,700
8 IM Himanshu Sharma 2387 IND 1983/09/16 7 57½ 2303 11,700
9 GM Rahman Ziaur 2544 BAN 1974/05/01 7 54½ 2297 11,700
10 IM Prakash G B 2403 IND 1972/03/15 7 52½ 2288 11,700
11   Das Arghyadip 2373 IND 1985/07/08 60 2380
9000
12 IM Roy C. Saptarshi 2423 IND 1982/02/13 57½ 2364
9000
13 GM Barua Dibyendu 2471 IND 1966/10/27 57 2321
9000
14 IM S. Swayangsu 2415 IND 1982/00/00 55 2265
9000
15 GM Ramesh R B 2491 IND 1976/04/20 54½ 2309
9000
16   Anilkumar O T 2265 IND 1963/01/25 50½ 2215
9000
17 WGM Swathi Ghate 2385 IND 1980/01/16 48 2225
9000
18   Sanjay N 2352 IND 1974/12/31 48 2169
9000
19 IM Babu N Sudhakar 2290 IND 1965/05/10 6 59 2388
1100
20   Praveen Kumar C 2326 IND 1985/06/08 6 58 2320
1100
21 GM Thipsay Praveen M 2494 IND 1959/08/12 6 55 2347
1100
22 GM Bakre Tejas 2447 IND 1981/05/12 6 54½ 2330
1100
23 WGM Mohota Nisha 2270 IND 1980/10/13 6 54½ 2276
1100
24 GM Murshed Niaz 2461 BAN 1966/05/13 6 54 2285
1100
25 IM Sriram Jha 2396 IND 1976/07/18 6 54 2276
1100
26 GM Wu Shaobin 2475 SIN 1969/02/04 6 53½ 2257
1100
27 IM G. Chandrashekhar 2375 IND 1974/08/30 6 53 2287
1100
28 WGM Ramaswamy Aarthie 2228 IND 1981/06/28 6 52 2239
1100
29   Akshayraj Kore 2429 IND 1988/09/01 6 51½ 2246
1100
30   Gillani Tunveer M D 2296 PAK 1969/02/17 6 50½ 2227
1100
31   Thejkumar M  S 2322 IND 1981/01/01 6 48 2196
1100
32   Kamble Vikramaditya 2346 IND 1982/08/09 6 47 2225
1100
33   Sriram Sarja 2289 IND 1988/11/01 6 46 2160
1100
34   Narayanan K 2137 IND 1991/05/07 6 45½ 2179
1100

Other categories

Women
1 WGM Harika Dronavalli 2353 IND 1991/01/12 7 54½ 2308 22,500
2 IM Vijayalakshmi Subbaraman 2424 IND 1979/03/15 59½ 2333 11,250
3 WGM Tania Sachdev 2383 IND 1986/08/20 49 2214 11,250
Boys U-20
1 GM Deepan Chakkravarthy J 2501 IND 1987/06/03 58½ 2373 13,500
2   Gopal G N 2397 IND 1989/03/29 7 57½ 2316
6750
3   Saptarshi Roy 2417 IND 1986/03/21 7 53½ 2269
6750
Girls U-20
1 WGM Karavade Eesha 2321 IND 1987/11/21 52½ 2275 13,500
2   Soumya Swaminathan 2154 IND 1989/03/21 49 2086
6750
3 WIM Gomes Mary Ann 2264 IND 1989/09/19 45 2106
6750
Boys U-18
1 IM Gupta Abhijeet 2481 IND 1989/10/16 7 57½ 2346
3600
2   Rohit G 2393 IND 1989/08/17 7 48½ 2229
3600
3 IM Arun Prasad S 2424 IND 1988/04/21 53 2317
1800
Girls U-18
1 WFM Bhakti Kulkarni 2062 IND 1992/05/19 51½ 2243
3600
2   Kiran Monisha Mohanty 2154 IND 1989/04/09 50 2161
3600
3   Rajadharshini M 2086 IND 1989/05/23 44 2026
1800
Boys U-16
1   Sethuraman S P 2329 IND 1993/02/25 7 56½ 2332
4500
2   Shyam Nikil P 2301 IND 1992/03/21 6 51 2265
2250
3   Aswin Jayaram 2322 IND 1990/08/14 6 50 2223
2250
Girls U-16
1   Pon N  Krithika 2031 IND 1992/04/22 42 1992
4500
2   Kanuri Tejaswi 2017 IND 1992/09/12 48½ 2096
2250
3   Divyasri Ch 2010 IND 1993/01/08 42½ 2084
2250
Boys U-14
1 FM Narayanan Srinath 2141 IND 1994/02/14 6 51½ 2188
3000
2 FM Nitin S 2278 IND 1992/11/08 6 51 2213
3000
3   Lalith Babu M R 2292 IND 1993/01/05 6 48½ 2215
3000
Girls U-14
1   Padmini Rout 2188 IND 1994/01/05 5 53½ 2137
4500
2   Lakshmi Sahiti P 2136 IND 1993/08/19 47 2077
2250
3   Bavana V 1976 IND 1993/10/06 40 1915
2250
Boys U-12
1 FM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 2213 IND 1994/10/24 6 48 2109
2250
2 FM Prasanna Rao 2227 IND 1994/04/28 50 2160
1800
3   Ankit R  Rajpara 2039 IND 1994/04/27 48½ 2155
1350
Girls U-12
1   Pujari Rucha 1953 IND 1994/07/02 41½ 2031
2025
2   Greef Melissa 1948 RSA 1994/04/15 41½ 2018
2025
3   Sahari J 1775 IND 1995/12/28 36½ 1903
1350
Boys U-10
1   Dheeraj Kumar N 2126 IND 1996/12/06 5 43½ 2052
2250
2   Sai Krishna G V 2057 IND 1996/05/19 49½ 2158
1575
3   Shiven Khosla 1943 IND 1996/06/29 48 2175
1575
Girls U-10
1   Sahajasri 1936 IND 1996/09/15 43½ 1997
2025
2   Akhila J 0 IND 1997/12/17 34 1891
2025
3   Dharanisree R 0 IND 1998/04/23 3 34 1751
1350

Excerpts from the Press Conference


Nigel Short speaking to the press and audience at the closing ceremony

On the Commonwealth Chess Association & the Championship:
It's a very loose body. I started my association last year. My predecessor, Mr.P.T. Ummer Koya ran this body as his personal fiefdom. He didn't communicate with any of the officer-bearers and never responded to any of the e-mails. So we have started from scratch and are recovering from a bad situation. If we look back at the history of the event, it is held infrequently. Previously it was incorporated with Lloyds Bank. Thereafter, few Commonwealth Championships have taken place in London, Australia, Malaysia. In the last decade or so India has been the prime organizer. It has got tremendous chess strength. Basically, chess and Commonwealth do not mix. Most Commonwealth nations are not good at chess. India and UK are exceptions. Just to help the game we need unique Commonwealth Championship. It was stupid to incorporate the event with International Open (1999) where players from Russia & Uzbekistan participated. I hope the  next edition in South Africa would bring in a change for better in terms of representation as players from countries like Botswana, Zambia, Kenya and Uganda can participate. This will help in developing Chess strength.

On his trainee, young sensation GM Parimarjan Negi:
I am very impressed with what I have seen. I have worked with him. He is very intelligent, hard working and one of the best chess players to emerge after Anand in India. We will see a lot more of him.

Anand & Parimarjan:
Anand is like a God! Cannot compare Anand to Parimarjan. He (Parimarjan) is supremely talented and has done great things at an early age but he has a long way to go. Things are tougher in chess world and computers have raised the standards to an unprecedented levels. The laptop is now a powerful learning tool for the chess players, which makes the difference. Parimarjan figures in top 300 players and that is a big achievement. Much more significant is that he is rising

On Chess Titles:
The GM title of today is not the GM title of twenty years ago. The requirement for norms has been reduced. Earlier, one got a GM norm from a 13-round tournament. Now you can get the same norm from a 9-round event. This is a political act by FIDE for their own gains as they have lowered the standards to create more Grandmasters. If at all they want more GMs, they should raise the level of players rather than lower the qualification. With this, FIDE has gone the other way round. The result is that lot of players have bought titles. I am not naming anyone but, I know what I am talking. FIDE does little to stop this practice. In fact, they encourage. The Federations are happy that they have produced titled players, the players are happy, the players who sold are happy. The titles are now available for as low as 30 Euro. This is nice little corrupt business. The solution is to abolish titles. The titles have no relevance. We should only have rankings as in Tennis. Just get rid of stupid titles.

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