Sunday, February 18, 2018

Intra-University Chess Tournament held at Daffodil International University


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FIDE Master Mehdi Hasan Parag along with Champion and Runners-Up of Intra-University Chess Tournament of Daffodil International University pose for a photograph.

The Chess Club of Daffodil International University (DIU) organized the two-day Intra-University Chess Tournament titled “Battle of Brain” on 16-17 February 2018. The tournament consisted of five rounds; first three rounds were held at the Dhanmondi campus on 16 February and last two rounds were held at the permanent campus on 17 February. As many as 130 registered students from different departments and campuses of DIU competed to establish their supremacy on 64-squared black and white board with their chess playing skills and acumen.
Md. Maruf Sarkar, a student Software Engineering Department of Permanent Campus, has become the Champion of the first ever Intra-University Chess Tournament of Daffodil International University. Fojal Ahamed Akash of CSE has become the first runner-up and Md. Monjurul Islam Shakil of the same department (CSE) has become the second runner-up in the tournament.

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A partial view of the Chess Tournament 
The closing ceremony and prize distribution was held at the Multipurpose Hall of permanent campus on 17 February 2018. FIDE Master Mehdi Hasan Parag  graced the closing ceremony as Chief Guest and handed over the prizes to the winners. The executive committee members of the Chess Club of DIU including President Pritom Saha and General Secretary Mohammed Ishtiaq Ali worked through the days to make the tournament successful.

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Ms. Mahmuda Hoque Chowdhury Moly, National Chess Instructor, addressing the inaugural ceremony of the Intra-University Chess Tournament titled “Battle of Brain” at Daffodil International University 

Earlier, Ms. Mahmuda Hoque Chowdhury Moly, National Chess Instructor, inaugurated the tournament at the Banquet Hall of Daffodil Tower on 16 February 2018. Mr. Md. Mazedul Hoque, Coordinator, Elegant International Chess Academy, was present there as special guest. Dr. Binoy Barman, Moderator of the chess club, and Director of Daffodil Institute of Languages (DIL), chaired the inaugural session.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Revisting XcellCHESS Club’s Journey To US Amateur Team Championship 2017

Amateur team championship is one of the most anticipated tournaments for non master players in the whole chess calendar year. As 2018 team championship is approaching, here I am revisiting one of the best chess events of my career. I have played team championship a few times in the past but last year (2017) I was not sure whether I will play due to office work load. Incidentally just one week before the event, I got a call from Tigran who is the manager of the relatively new in the chess arena XcellCHESS Club. We know each other since my son’s chess coaching times last several years. Tigran said he was putting up a team and my then current rating of little below 2000 (1974 to be exact) is a good fit to play for the 3rd board. As soon as I heard from him, all my busy office work jumped out of the window of my mind. I instantly agreed hearing the other boards in the team were National Master Hayk Manvelyan, WIM Ashritha Eswaran, Arul Viswanathan and as fifth player WCM Aksithi Eswaran.

Hayk (2295) is one of the promising players in bay area who got a little busy with his graduation times in recent years. He is a dependable player; calm and fit for being team captain in the first board. I know him since he used to play regularly in Tuesday Night Marathon at Mechanics Chess Institute, San Francisco where I am a regular too.

Ashritha (2252) comes from a well known chess family from bay area. Her father Eswaran Ramalingam is the co-founder of XcellCHESS Club. He assigned Tigran to develop and manage their upcoming chess software XcellCHESS on which they have been working for the last couple of years. Ashritha herself is well known for her impressive debut in 2014 US Women Championship at the age of 13 and frequently plays in major chess tournaments all around. Her younger sister Aksithi is also progressing rapidly as a player bagged couple of Gold Medals in PANAM Youth chess Championships in Brazil (2013) and Colombia (2015).

I had played Arul (1930) a few times earlier and traded wins in our last couple of games. He is another player who has lots of potential. I didn’t know before this tournament that his father was my then-colleague in Adobe.

I myself have been playing chess in bay area for last seven years with mixed results. My peak rating has been 2148 four years back but since then has been steadily going down, as I got busy with other priorities in life.

So all in all we thought we were a good team and would try to put up a good show although winning the championship in the west zone didn’t cross our mind. Because traditionally it’s one of the most competitive team tournaments in whole USA. While the number of teams in East zone is many times higher; in terms of quality opponents - the ratio is incomparable to West zone. My jaw dropped when I saw that out of 65 regular teams (setting aside 35 scholastic teams in one of which my son Ahyan also played), 4 teams had Grand Masters and 5 teams had International Masters in board one. According to strength, we were 15th out of 65 teams with a team average rating of 2104 in the first 4 boards, well below the ceiling of 2200. Hence you can imagine securing the first place was not the goal we set for ourselves in the beginning of the tournament.

A notable absence this year was 3 times USAT National Amateur Team Champion NorCal House of Chess. The tournament was organized by Bay Area Chess in the spacious Santa Clara Convention Center during February 22-23-24 Presidential long weekend.

I didn’t play the first round to allow our fifth board Aksithi to play instead. Usually in the first round you get relatively easy opponent and hence we didn’t have any trouble winning all the boards. But in the very second round we faced “Kolty A” (average rating 2178) first 3 boards of which were National Masters and even the fourth board is rated 2049, making it a well balanced team. I upset NM Richard Koepcke (2200) which tipped the result in our favor to 3-1. In the third round we faced the team with a bizarre name “+K4#!” whose  average rating 2064 was lot higher than us. Despite that we won comfortably.

Scoring 3 out of 3 rounds, we had to face one of the tournament favorites SoCal House of Chicken Nuggets (average rating 2185) who won the top team name prize. They were headed by IM Joshua Sheng (2455), NM Albert Lu (2391), WIM Annie Wang (2276) only to compensate these high ratings with lower rated fourth board Brent Bennett (1619). Again here I upset my higher rated opponent Annie (more than 300 points difference) and Hayk was able to hold IM Joshua to a draw making it a marginal 2.5-1.5 win for us. With this win we became one of the only two teams who scored wins in all 4 rounds. This is when started dreaming for the first time for a big upset in the tournament by winning it. We faced “The Berkeley Knights” (average rating 2176) in the fifth round who was the other team with perfect score. They were not only high rated but also well balanced in all boards. I lost to their third board Derek O’Connor (2167) just a few weeks earlier in Tuesday Night Marathon. Derek became National Master just after this tournament. I pulled up another upset against Derek and the team result showed us the only team with perfect score of 5 out of 5 going into the final round. This meant we had a good tie break score and all we needed was a team draw 2-2 to win the tournament. And this is exactly what happened.

Before the start of the final (sixth) round our team name was announced as a surprise leader of the tournament receiving a lot of claps from the audience. In this round we faced “The Berkeley Chess Weekenders” (average rating 2184) who had 3 Nationals Masters followed by a relatively weaker fourth board to keep their high average rating just below the 2200 bar. Hayk in board one played slowly against his higher rated opponent while Ashritha and I lost in second and third board respectively. Arul pulled up another win in fourth board completing his tournament score with a dreaming 4.5 out of 5 games. So everything depended on Hayk vs Jack’s game. A draw in that board would be sufficient for Berkeley weekenders to win the tournament outright while we needed Hayk to win the tournament in tie break. And while the game lasted long, Hayk had full control over the game and won it in style. With this we became the Amateur Team West Zone Champion 2017 in one of the most competitive tournaments in recent times!

In East zone Summer Academy Talented Youth won with a perfect score of 6-0, who were the reigning national amateur team champion as well. That zone was the biggest ever where 308 teams registered consisting of 1284 players! Fake Moves won the USAT North zone and Mode Beast won the USAT South zone.

Now the next step was to play for the national amateur team championship in a knockout format amongst these four zonal winner teams. Out of the two possible dates between March and April, we all settled for April 22nd for the face offs.

Hayk, Arul and Eswaran sisters met in XcellCHESS Club Santa Clara location weekly, but I was too occupied with my work, family and hobby to be able to join them. Instead I decided to purchase ChessBase 14 and analyze my potential opponents’ games to prepare myself. Because ChessBase is a windows only software and my laptop is a Mac, I also had to buy an HP just to be able to install and use ChessBase. I analyzed the games of all 3 potential opponents who played in the third board for the other zone winners - NM Michael Auger (2268), Warren Wang (2197) and Miguel Fonseca (2176). Warren has become National Master but at the time of the entry into the zonal competition, he was still 3 points shy of the 2200 mark and hence his NM title and rating was not counted for this tournament. Miguel also became National Master one month after the zonal tournament. Knowing me losing to several lower rated players in recent time, Eswaran Ramalingam joked that he was not worried about me because I only lose to players below 2000 rating. All my opponents for final round were of  master rating strength, hence according to him I would naturally win! A week before the final, we sat down in a training session together with Coach NM Ronal Cusi who himself have been part of 3 consecutive National Amateur Team Champion NorCal House of Chess. Tigran did all the coordination around the tournament from beginning to end, allowing us to focus on our games.

In April 22nd we played the semi-final and final in XcellCHESS Club location at Santa Clara. My second round opponent NM Richard Kopecke was the tournament director in our location for the final rounds. We won the semi-final against North by 3-1. I lost in third board with White against Michael Auger (2268) but all our other boards won. In the other semi-final game, East defeated South by 2.5-1.5 margin. South's first board couldn't play due to a personal emergency and hence they had to play up with 3 boards.

In the final, after an hour’s break from semi-final, we faced the current champion East. I won my game with Black (given above) against Warren Wang rated 2198. Arul and Ashrita lost in fourth and second board respectively. In first board Hayk had better position against Ethan Li but drew in time pressure as the game prolonged. He was in a winning position all throughout the game but Ethan showed stiff resistance in severe time pressure and was rewarded the draw at the end. So East won again, back-to-back this year to defend their title as National champion. Well, we were very close but couldn't make it. We will have to be happy with the runner up position. But this was a great experience for me personally and one of the best achievements in my modest chess career. A good show of teamwork in a long and tough journey. 

This year, I am completely out of chess but will still pay in a newly formed team in board#1 along with my son Ahyan in board#4. Wish us all the best!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Nice Words from Dr Alan for Us

I was browsing and just stumbled upon this news where Ahyan defeated Oliver Wu last year. So nice to read it -

Oliver Wu (1851) 5-1 Tied for Second  - Oliver is always our top player    and most skilled player at Weibel.  For some strange reason he always seems to lose to a lower rated player in an early round. This weekend it was in the first round.  He lost  to a 1207 player named Ahyan Zaman.  Ahyan, to be candid, is underrated by a lot.  His rating has been a lot higher.  He is one of those young players that goes up and down in his rating and is now on a steady uphill path.  His father is a solid chess player, and just an all around nice guy, who volunteers his time to help the State and National chess communities.  NOTE: I like his Mom as well.  In any case, as in other tournaments, Oliver came back strong. NOTE 2: Oliver was disappointed his trophy wasn’t available as he was told it had broken in transit.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Ahyan Became National Champion for G/30 Under 1600 Section

US National Championship G/30 and G/60 tournaments where organized by Bay Area Chess last September 23-24th respectively. It was held in the Santa Clara Convention center that attracted 11 Grand Masters in the pool for hundreds of players. Ahyan became the champion in Under 1600 section in G/30 format scoring 4.5 out of 5 games! In the process he also earned $663 prize money. This is his second national title. In 2014 he was National Junior champion for Age group 8 and under - a little more than 3 years ago.

After 4 rounds Ahyan was 3.5 and had to defeat the leader Jacob who had full score of 4. So Ahyan was in a must win situation and he made it! USCF published an article on this tournament where Ahyan's name was mentioned generously.

"Ahyan Zaman, a rising talent whose father also competed in the Open section, took clear first in the u1600 section."

In TNM Newsletter IM John Donaldson also reported Ayan's win -

"Two young Mechanics’ regulars had outstanding results in the G/30. 10-year-old Adrian Kondakov defeated his first Grandmaster, Carlos Matamoros of Ecuador, and Ahyan Zaman won the C group with 4½ from 5."

My own performance was ok, got 2 small prize checks in both G/30 and G/60 sections.  But the memorable one for me was defeating the very gentleman IM Anthony Saidy in G/60 in a King's Gambit. After the game Anthony told me that it was his first King's Gambit game in his long chess career.

Here is Ahyan's final round win for the championship title.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Became One of the Seven Champions of Central California Open Under 2050 Section at Fresno

By winning the longest game of the tournament at last round I had a 7-way tie for champion scoring 4 out of 5 in under 2050 section of Central California Open at Fresno. Got $271 prize. Ahyan scored 3.5 out of 5 in under 1650 section and won $33 prize. The event was held in DoubleTree bu Hilton at Fresno from 11th August to 13th August. I took a room there for 2 nights as we made it family chess trip. Sos Hakobyan and his wife were planning to join us but cancelled at the last moment.

Round 1:

Round 2:

Round 3:

Round 4:

Round 5:

Drew Agaginst IM Oscar Cartagena in Carlsen Swiss @Norcal House of Chess

I and Ahyan played a short 3 round Carlsen Swiss chess tournament at NorCal of Chess where I drew in last round against IM Oscar Cartagena. Here are the games I played.