The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Barua for GM rule review
Barua thinks Sandipan is an uncompromising player

Calcutta: Sandipan Chanda clinching a third and final GM norm confirms India’s status as a rising power in world chess. The country has produced six GMs since February 2000, after all (assuming that Sandipan’s case is ratified by the world body).

Questions, however, are bound to surface. Are all these GM norms and titles as significant as they are made out to be' Do all these rightly reflect a player’s true strength' Dibyendu Barua, for one, has some reservations and suggestions.

The city’s first GM believes it has become easier for contemporary players to achieve these norms and titles. Relaxation in rules, feels Barua, has been a major factor behind the recent surge in the number of GMs and IMs. He is quick to add that the bar needs to be raised, in order to gauge how good a player actually is. “Undoubtedly, it’s much easier these days. Our players have gained from the changes in rules and it won’t be unfair to say that Indians are the biggest gainers, at least in this part of the world,” Barua told The Telegraph Tuesday.

India’s second GM after Viswanathan Anand went on to explain how difficult things were in their days. “To apply for the GM title, one had to bag at least one norm from a closed (all-play-all) tournament. A rating of 2500 was a must at the time of earning the third norm.

“Also, these days, players can cite nine-round scores from an 11-round event if they achieve norm-worthy results in that phase. In our days, the total score from an 11-round event was considered while awarding norms,” said Barua, who became a GM in 1991.

These days, there is no restriction on the format of tournaments and the 2500 bar has also been lifted. A player can collect all three norms from Swiss League tournaments and reaching the 2500 mark earlier, irrespective of the player’s current rating, wins a player the passport into the world of big-time chess.

“Truly speaking, below 2500s don’t deserve to be crowned GMs. To be a GM, a player should touch 2500 at the time of clinching the final norm. I feel this calls for a rethink. Maybe, we should raise the eligibility condition to 2550,” opined the 37-year-old.

Assessing Sandipan, who made his first mark at The Telegraph schools’ meet in the mid Nineties, Barua said the 20-year-old is quite unique. “He is an uncompromising player, never plays for draws. Sandipan is the imaginative sort and always tries to make something happen. He is creative and very strong tactically.”

But Barua was quick to point out the other side as well. “His opening is bad. And his memory is not that strong either, maybe somewhat like me! He has to work on this. And being a naturally aggressive player, at times, he allows his opponents soft openings.”

Looking at the positive side, Barua thinks the third GM norm should ease the pressure on Sandipan, which should help him work on the weaker areas. “After a long wait for the third norm, during which his friend Surya Sekhar Ganguly bagged the GM title, Sandipan should feel more relaxed.

“Surya is a superior allround player. His memory is good, and he should reach the 2700 mark. As for Sandipan, it’s impossible to predict. He’s not the usual sort.”

For the record, GM Surya’s current Elo rating is 2535, while Sandipan stands at 2469.

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