The prize giving ceremony was a grand affair indeed as can be seen from the following photos and yet reflected showed the graciousness of the VIPs present, all who key roles in making the event possible and this was shown throughout the ceremony with their obvious goodwill towards the organisers, chess, and participants.
After Dibyendu Barua welcomed all on behalf of the organising committee and shared his challenges in making this event happen while constantly expressing his gratitude to D.V. Sundar and the All India Chess Federation, the Central Government, the state of West Bengal and City of Kolkata (including buses from the Department of Tourism and cars by the Police), Tata Steel and the various other sponsors, Mr Bharat Singh Chauhan, on behalf of the All India Chess Federation congratulated him was an excellent event while at the same time pointing out he had now joined the ranks of organisers!
Mr Peeyush Gupta, Chief Marketing Officer of Tata Steel was kind enough to say that Tata was pleased to be associated with such and event and that the challenge in his opinion was less financial than in having a successful organisation so Dibyendu Barua was to be congratulated.
The guest of honour was Dr. Asim Das Gupta, State Minister of Finance, West Bengal, Government of India, and in his key note address spoke of his appreciation of the benefits of chess, reminding all that to playing chess was just like live in important moments in making and anticipating moves.
He then went on to reaffirm the state's commitment to supporting sport in general and chess in particular and offered assistance to make up any shortfall in the budget! And then went on to say he had spoken privately to Dibyendu and the West Bengal Chess Association and asked for a proposal for coaching children - a program for chess in schools which he said would have the government's full support.
Then came the presentation of individual board medals.... which was of course then followed by the winners of the championship!
The Tata Steel Asian Team Chess Championship concluded today in a final round that was little more than a coronation for men's champion India and women's champion Vietnam, but saw a fierce fight between both the men and women of Iran and India B to decide the event's second and third placings.
The final round started with India A making short work of Sri Lanka, easily winning 4-0, but in the second match a grim struggle between Ian and India B finally ended with Iran winning 3-1, ensuring that Iran would tie Vietnam for second but only placed third after tie-breaks.
(A very happy India A side at the post event live press conference being interviewed by Grandmaster P.Thipsay.).
Already assured of second place, Vietnam had a routine 4-0 win against bottom placed Nepal while Bangladesh hit form to crush Singapore 3.5-0.5 and Indonesia beat Yemen by the same score.
Today, in the penultimate round, India A, unbeaten and with maximum points took on Singapore after having beaten all their main rivals, and romped home to an easy 3.5-0.5 win which ensured that India will be champions one round before the end!
(The Singapore team before their 0-4 defeat to India A.).
(The reliable Deepan Chakkravarthy K was the only India A player not to win this round.).
Instead the attention was really on the fight for second place and it was still very much the status quo after the dust had settled with Vietnam recording a 4-0 win over Indonesia while the other silver medal hopefuls Iran crushed Sri Lanka by the same 4-0 score.
India B also had an easy time against Yemen, winning 3-1, and Nepal lost 1-3 against Bangladesh.
Leaders Vietnam today faced their last strong team - Indonesia - and still easily won 3.5-0.5 to retain their two point advantage over India A which beat Bangladesh 4-0.
(A calm and determined Vietnam team in action against Indonesia whom they beat 3.5-0.5, a result which has all but won them the championship.).
(In fact Vietnam were so confident that the rested a player that had so far scored 3/3 and she was also more interested that round in doing media work that including being interviewed by TV!).
Indian B joined India A in second place, also on nine points with a 4-0 trouncing of Sri Lanka.
And with a 4-0 win over Nepal, Iran moved up to fourth place on seven points as Singapore received the 2-0 bye and fell to fifth place with six points.
(Exhausted, Dibyendu Barua still kindly agreed to an interview while multitasking on the phone)
Grandmaster Dibyendu Barua, you are now also a chess organiser and promoter with the Tata Steel Asian Team Championship, so thank you for taking time during this event when you are so busy to talk to us. We would also like, before we start, to congratulate you on a very fine event - everyone we talked to has only good things to say - and despite the intense competition, the participants are really very happy to be here and very much enjoying the warm Indian and Bengali hospitality.
Q: So, how did India, West Bengal, Kolkata, and you in particular get involved in organising this prestigious event?
A: I have in the last four years been promoting chess by organising a chess for youth program in West Bengal with competitions in two age group categories, under 16 and under 25, and in casual conversation with Mr D V Sundar, Secretary of the All India Chess Federation, I mentioned I was keen to do an international event one day. Soon after I got an email challenging me to take on the Asian Team Championship that had been awarded by the World Chess Federation through the Asian Chess Federation to India, and after getting an indication of the budget, I agreed. But I really did not know what I had signed up for! This was an official international event and not just an international open tournament, and there were things like standards to be adhered to, be it hotel, equipment, etc,, protocol to be followed, and services that needed to be provided such as transportation. The budget also just kept growing and what was provided by the central government to start began to look like a very small sum indeed. So I approached the state government and they really helped. In particular I must mention the Minister of Sport and the Minister of Finance as incredibly supportive. But even then, until after the opening ceremony, and only when my employer Tata Steel stepped in as main sponsor, I was facing a major financial ruin! So I must thank all of these parties from the bottom of my heart. Also, Mr Sundar too who gave me this opportunity has been a great support throughout with much needed guidance.
Q: In the chess world, India for sure and especially in Kolkata, you are a legend, because before World Champion Viswanathan Anand, and after the early days of Manual Aaron, you were a prodigy, in fact India's first great player, performing at the top level for more than 20 years and was seen to be proof of the high quality of India chess. How do you see yourself in 5, 10 years time, and what are your remaining aspirations for chess?
A: As I said earlier, I am well employed by Tata and while not rich, I live a comfortable life and even today if I focused on playing chess I believe I would still be among the top 10 players in the country. But I have been playing a lot less in recent years, around 2-3 tournaments a year and I have become very selective. This is because I believe that I have benefited from chess and that senior players like myself need to give back to society and while organising this event I realised too that chess players like myself bring something extra in that we understand what is needed to make a good event great, having been there ourselves! I have over the years begun to get more involved in promoting chess in Kolkata and West Bengal and I see myself continuing to do that and hopefully can make a difference. In fact I am organising this event with All Sport Management India under my newly formed academy, the Dibyendu Barua Chess Academy which I set up with my own money and with no profit motive in mind.
Q: Everyone is impressed by the high quality of the organisation of the Asian Team Championship. We have heard that you have started a Chess Academy and the students there enjoy the same high standards which seems to be identified with all that you do. Please tell us a bit about your academy and what are your hopes and plans in this direction?
A: With my academy I hope to be better able to promote chess and we have two main thrusts. The first is introduce the game to children so that they will learn to love chess and to this end we have tie-ups with many schools already. Only in this way will we grow a mass of chess literacy amongst the public and appreciation by would be sponsors we recognise this community as a valuable market for their products and services. The second is to facilitate talent development which is a little more complicated. We try and reward winners at city, state, and national levels with scholarships, and for those who qualify to represent the country we even provide special training to help prepare them for international competition. I don't know how successful we will be but I will do my best and hope that is good enough.
Thank you Grandmaster. We know you are very busy indeed even though you have an excellent team in place for this event and so will let you go now!
The fifth round may have decided the championship. India A, leaders from the start met Iran which is a point behind and the only other unbeaten team, the difference being India A had beaten the other pre tournament favourite Vietnam while Iran only drew.
(India A before the start of the essentially title winning round)
And they rose to the occasion with Negi Parimarjan, Ganguly Surya Sekhar and P Harikrishnan all winning for an emphatic victory 3.5-0.5 which all but ensured India would retain their title and comfirm their leadership position in Asian chess.
In other match ups, Bangladesh fell heavily to Vietnam 0-4, Indonesia trounced Sri Lanka 4-0 as did India B over Nepal, and it was the same story for Singapore over Yemen.
Surprising Singapore met leaders Vietnam and were well beaten 0.5-3.5, Le Thanh Tu, Pham Le Thao Nguyen, and Nguyen Thi Mai Hung (see photo below) delivering the wins.
Barring a major drop in form and with a commanding two point lead, Vietnam now looks set to emerge as champions.
Indonesia took on India B which was still on a high after their win over India A yesterday and so won 0.5-3.5, while India A, even without their sick captain and team stalwart Harika Dronavalli were much too strong for Sri Lanka with an easy 4-0 rout and the kids from Nepal could not match the experienced Bangladesh team, also going down 0-4.