His progress as a chess player has been slower and less spectacular than some of his peers, but Sandipan Chanda quietly notched up the best result of his career —– a fourth place finish in the Gibetelcom Chess Festival — in Gibraltar, which was a very strong open tournament that concluded on Thursday.
The field featured three players with Elo ratings of above 2700 including the one-time youngest Grandmaster (GM) of the world, Frenchman Etienne Bacrot (2713), 16 players above 2600 and 18 above 2500. There are not too many open tournaments (where the first round pairings are based on ratings and subsequent pairings are on how the players perform) where so many strong players participate.
The Kolkata-based GM logged 7.5 points from 10 rounds for a nine-way tie for the top spot after which the top four played play-offs to determine the finalists. Chanda (Elo rating 2622) lost to GM Fransesco Valejo Pons (2705) of Spain in the two mini-game tiebreaker. English GM and former world No. 4 Michael Adams (2694) won the title. Indian GM G.N. Gopal too tallied 7.5 points but had to settle for the eighth spot.
Chanda rated this as the strongest open tournament he had played.
“In terms of performance and consistency, this is perhaps my best performance because there were so many strong players. I felt I was playing well and enjoyed being there,” he told HT via email on way to France where he plays the Capelle Open from Saturday.
Identified as a special talent at a young age, Chanda was known for producing remarkable results against far superior rivals only to lose to lowly-rated players soon after.
The Gibraltar outing saw him play consistently well, for five wins and as many draws including against Bacrot in the fifth round and Pons in the eighth. “I am happy with my play and the result. I feel confident and think it is possible for me to fight with the strong guys.”
Chanda did fight, as is reflected in the fact that he finished ahead of the likes of Gata Kamsky (2693) of the US, Bacrot and Slovak GM Sergei Movsesian (2708).
“It is always good to play these 2700 players. I had lost to Bacrot in 1993 at the world U-10 at Bratislava. From Gibraltar, I should gain about 13 rating points.”
It could have been a lot better had Chanda not drawn against Serbian International Master Darsko Boskovic (2454) with white in the ninth round. “I could perhaps have won the title had I won that game and I expected to win it. But sometimes things just do not work.”