Mary Ann Gomes of West Bengal won a hat trick of titles by capturing the coveted United Bank of India 40th National Premier Chess Championship, organised by Dibyendu Barua Chess Academy at The Spring Club, Kolkata from 25th August to 5th September 2013.
The tournament has been given a new lease of life in the form of round robin format, with 12 strong players of the country. The average rating was 2256, making it a Category nine tournament for women.
International master Tania Sachdev of Airport Authority of India was the top rated player in the tournament, followed by the defending champion WGM Mary Ann Gomes of Kolkata.
Other attractions were former world junior girls champion WGM Soumya Swaminathan of PSPB, former champions WGM Swathi Ghate of LIC and IM Nisha Mohota of PSPB, besides former world Under 14 girls champion Padmini Rout of Orissa.
The time format for the championship was 90 minutes for the first 40 moves and remaining game in 30 moves, with an increment of 30 seconds from move 1.
In the round robin format, a player’s lead can not be taken for granted, as it depends on the strength of the opponents, he or she had met in earlier rounds.
Tania and Swathi started with a bang, beating Padmini and Ivana Maria Furtado respectively, in the first round. In the explosive third round, the top two rated players of the tournament met each other, wherein, Tania was defeated by Mary Ann. GK Monnisha of Tamil Nadu dealt a blow to Nisha in this round.
Tania’s woes did not stop here, as former world under 8 girls champion Ivana rubbed salt to the wounds, by beating her. By the end of the fourth round, the trio Swathi, Mary Ann and Soumya were leading with 3 points each.
The lead did not change in the fifth round, as the overnight leaders drew their games and Tania recovered mildly, with a win over Michelle Catherenia of TN.
In an interesting duel of sixth round, Soumya was outwitted by Tania and Swathi emerged sole leader with 4.5 points, beating higher rated Padmini. Mary Ann drew with Kiran Manisha Mohanty to trail the leader by half a point.
Seventh and eighth rounds went on expected lines, and Soumya joined Swathi at the top, with a fluent win over WGM Bhakti Kulkarni of Goa.
Things turned topsy turvy in the ninth round, as Swathi was stunned by the minnow GK Monnisha, allowing Soumya to move into sole lead, with a convincing win over Kiran. Mary Ann maintained her second spot by beating her city mate Nisha.
In the penultimate round, both Soumya and Mary Ann recorded victories, maintaining the lead position and Tania was also at a striking distance, with an outside chance to win the title.
In the pulsating final round, Mary Ann was the first to draw her game against Ivana in an inferior position, waiting anxiously for Soumya’s result. Padmini had a steel of nerves to beat Soumya, paving the way for a three way tiebreak between Mary Ann, Soumya and Tania, each with 7.5 points.
The first tiebreak of direct encounter was in favour of Mary Ann as she had 1.5 points from two games with the other two players, Tania having one point and Soumya half.
The tournament was well organised in a highly professional manner by Dibyendu Barua Chess Academy, under the leadership of India’s second grandmaster Dibyendu Barua and his wife WIM Saheli Dhar Barua, with able support from IM Neeraj Kumar Mishra, the head coach of the academy.
Barua’s experience in organising big level tournaments like Asian Team Championship in 2009 and National Premier Championship in 2012, helped him for the successful conduct.
Earlier, the tournament was inaugurated by the Bengali actress Ritupana Sengupta, a national awardee. Sports Hon. Minister of West Bengal Sri. Madan Mitra was the chief guest for the prize distribution function, in the presence of former foot ball Olympian Sri P.K. Bannejee.
Report by R. Anantharam