International master elect M. Kunal of Tamil Nadu won the Ramco Institute of Technology FIDE Rated Chess Tournament held at the RIT college campus in Rajapalayam. It falls under the clause of one of the very well organised rating tournaments in India and the speciality it was organised by RIT of Ramco Group. Sri. PR. Venketrama Raja, the president of AICF is the Chairman of the Ramco Group of Industries. The playing ambience was excellent, with only 310 players vying for the top honours in a huge hall wherein about thousand players can be easily accommodated. Besides, all players were put up in the college hostel proving cot, bed of international standard and fan for each player on triple sharing basis. Free sumptuous and healthy food was given to all players for all the three sessions of the playing days.
The tournament was an eight round Swiss format tournament with players hailing from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, AP, Karnataka, Orissa and Chhattisgarh. Grandmaster RR Laxman of ICF was the top seed of the tournament, followed by international masters A Ra Harikrishna and AL Muthaiah. Other international masters in the fray were TS Ravi and R. Balasubramanian both from Tamil Nadu. The only minor upset in the first round of the tournament was the draw by SG Gowtham against J Malleswara Rao of AP, who had a rating difference more than 900. In the second round, J Sajan of Sivakasi held KG Chaithanya, rated 600 points above him.
Third seeded IM AL Muthaiah went down in thefourth round to former Tamil Nadu state champion K Gunasekaran of ICF and Kovai kid S Harshad drew with IM TS Ravi. Sixth round witnessed the great escape by the top seed RR Laxman and IM elect Kunal from the clutches of defeat, as their opponents SS Manigandan of Madurai and former national champion Syed Anwar Shazuli of ICF blundered under time pressure to present a gift of one point.Laxman had tobe content with a draw against Kunal in the sixth round and Harikrishna split the point with Prasanna, leading toa seven way tie. In the penultimate round, Harikrishnan defeated N Lokesh of Hosur in a knight and pawn ending and S Prasannaa was fortunate when his opponent P Maheswaran lost on time in a winning position. The duo had a score of 6.5 points, half a point ahead of Laxman who drew with IM R Balasubramanian and nine other players.
In the clash between the top two seeds in the final round, Laxman drew with Harikrishnan, eliminating Laxman from the race for the title. Kunal overcame the stiff resistance from OT Anil Kumar of Kerala, Muthaiah and Syed Anwar posted wins in the final round to tie for the first place with seven points each. When the tiebreaks were applied, Kunal had a better score to be declared as the champion. Harikrishnan finished runner up, followed by Syed Anwar and Muthaiah.
The tournament was inaugurated by Sri. P. Stephen Balasamy, General Secretary, Tamil Nadu State Chess Association. Sri A. Gopalsamy, President Virudhunagar District Chess Association distributed the prizes in the presence of Dr.Venkat Raj, Principal, PACR Polytechnic, V. VIjayaraghavan Joint Secretary, TNSCA and Dr. Raja Karunakaran, Vice Principal, RIT.