The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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2600-barrier Barua’s next target

Calcutta: Dibyendu Barua checked into the city quietly Monday with a precious acquisition — the Commonwealth chess championship trophy.

The Indian Grandmaster was adjudged ‘champion’ even though someone else — Vietnamese GM Nguyen Anh Dung — topped the standings in the Mumbai meet.

“The tournament has been thrown open to players from non-Commonwealth countries for some years now to make the field qualitatively better,” Barua explained.

“That way, we had several strong players from the ex-Soviet bloc and Vietnam, and as many as 23 GMs. Otherwise, there would have been 10 GMs at the most, especially with England pulling out.”

Dung tallied 8.5 points, followed by Barua and two others — Uzbek Rustom Kasimdzhanov and Kazakh Evgeny Vladimirov — with 7.5 each.

On progressive score, Barua finished fourth. But since none of the top three was from the Commonwealth, the Indian was declared Commonwealth champion.

Barua admits success would have tasted sweeter had he won the title fair and square.

“Of course, it would have felt better had I actually ended in Dung’s position… The loss in the fifth round to a Chinese GM really hurt me. In the end, I did well to recover and finish where I did.”

Barua had a quick draw with Dung in the final round, but his best game was against GM Kasimdzhanov in Round 9. “Beating him convincingly gave me a lot of satisfaction,” Barua said.

The most significant aspect of Barua’s triumph was the 15 Elo rating points he gained from this meet. He will have a career-high 2560 rating when the next Fide list is issued.

“I had got stuck at 2555 for a long time, so this is a welcome breakthrough for me,” Barua said. Breaking the 2600-barrier, he added, would be the next target.

“I plan to play the European circuit from July, starting with Spain and England. But just playing tournaments won’t help, I have to prepare very well.”

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