Reflections by Dr. L Bouah: Introduction to India (2)

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India Of Times :credit Photo

According to the FIDE website India has 74 grandmasters with former world champion Vishy Anand the highest rated at 2786 followed GM Harikrishna at 2766. A number of Indians have won world titles in various age groups.


I have been researching Indian chess history a bit so let’s delve into this fascinating chess country. The first player I recalled was Mir Sultan Khan who on three occasions won the British championships when he played there in the 1930’s. He was born in the Punjab in the then British India.


The Indians trace their lineage to Manuel Aaron who has won the national championship nine times; He was born in 1935 and was the first Indian player to achieve the title of International Master. He was the winner of the national title for five consecutive yearsin
the late 1960’s. He participated in many Olympiads and was also captain ofthe Olympiad team.


The next top Indian player was Dibyenda Barua. He won the national title on three occasions and became the second grandmaster of India after Anand He was born in 1966 and participated in the national championship at the age of 12 which had the whole country talking then. He became a grandmaster in 1991.


l attended a course in India in 2017 Our last lecturer introduced us to the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi spent 21 years in South Africa He was in South Africa from 1893 until 1915. It was in South Africa that he took up the challenge to build up his organisational capabilities in a bid to fight non-violently against the racist South African regime. I bought a book on his life and will be reading up on Gandhi.

South Africa, of course, has a relationship with India which stretches back to the 1860’s when the first Indian labourers were transported to work on the sugar cane plantations I know too little to write about that but what was surprising for me to find out was that India hosted 14 prisoner of war camps in India during the South African War from 1899-1902.
Professor Floris J.G van Der Merwe from the University of Stellenbosch published a paper in the International Journey of The History of Sport in 2007 in which he indicated that from April 1901 Boer prisoners were sent to India where they were exposed to terrible heat and sandstorms.

Research indicated that in most camps football was played in the late afternoon when it was cooler, In other prisoner of war camps rugby was the featured sport and was played in Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka), St Helena and elsewhere It is an
interesting feature of South Africa – India relations that was unaware of.

India of course was the first country to welcome back South African sport when the late Clive Rice led a team in November 1991 to play against India at Eden Gardens. 90 00O people attended that match E noted from my visits to bookstores that the biography of AB De Villiers is in the top ten selling books here. He is hero -worshipped and have been following the controversy of him not playing against England when the IPL is on.

Today, l want to focus on Indian women’s chess. The top five women chess players in India are

  1. Grandmaster Humpy Koneru 2557
  2. Grandmaster Harika Dronavalli 2539
  3. International Master Tania Sachdev 2429
  4. International Master Karavade 2418
  5. International Master Vijayalakshmi Subbaraman 2393

India has 11 -woman grandmasters of which the first two above has been awarded the male grandmaster title. The most successful Indian woman plaver has been grandmaster Koneru.

Humpy Koneru Photo Credit : ET The Economic Times

She started to play at the age of five and won many junior events. At the age of 16 years she participated in the World Cup in Hyderabad where she lost to Ju Xuhua of China after winning her initial rounds. Some of her successes of which there are many, include the fact that she became a woman grandmaster at the age of 15 years and that she is the first Indian woman to have obtained her woman grandmaster title and the men’s grandmaster title.


In November 2012 at the Women’s World Cup in Khanty Mansisyk three-time SA Closed and current SA women ‘S champion Women International Master Denise Frick nearly caused an upset when she attacked GM Koneru fiercely in round one of their two game contests. – The attack alas didn ‘t come through but provided the world with a nice game in which WIM Frick showed her prowess.

In round 2 in the Open Section SA lost to Israel by 3.5/0.5 GM Kenny Solomon held his opponent to a draw on board one South Africa was outrated by more than 200- -400 points on the boards. I am sure they will bounce back! GM Solomon had an active king with a board full of pieces Kenny was pressing but his opponent just had enough each time! On board 2 GM Nabaty essayed the 3 .f3 against the coming Grunfeld and castled queenside. An exciting game but am sure SA Champion IM Daniel Cawdery will bounce back! on Board 3 Barrish pushed hard and at once stage it seemed he was holding the queenside but GM Ilya Smirin is an experienced grandmaster and brought the point home on Board 4 Banele Mhango played an incorrect exchange sacrifice He had earlier lost a pawn, So it was difficult!

In round 2 SA played against Malawi in the Women’s Section. The SA Ladies team won 3-1 with only Chloe Badenhorst losing against Tupokiwe Msukwa. On Board one WIM Jesse February played the white side of a Sicilian She had loads of pressure and on move 19 her opponent resigned. On board two WIM Charlize Van Zyl was tactically sharp and on move13 won her first pawn. Soon thereafter she won her second pawn and thereafter brought the point home. On Board three it seemed that Badenhorst was winning but her opponent Msukwa had enough in the tank to find the win Tough one for Badenhorst. I am sure she
will recover quickly as she seeks her first win at the Olympiad. On board 4 WIM Denise Bouah won a knight on h4. After that she needed to defend accurately but she brought the point home!

The talk tonight is all about Zambia beating Denmark who fielded three grandmasters in the match! The first three boards were drawn but FM Lungu Nase (2216), who is an experienced campaigner beat IM Martin Haubro (2411). All of us in South Africa celebrate this great victory! Well done Zambia!

Have a good day!
Regards Dr Lyndon Bouah

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