National Chess Championship: Two school kids on top at half way mark
CM Ranindu Liyanage (Ananda College) and Nethmi Fernando (Girls High School Kandy) topped the tables at the end of the first half of the National Chess Championship being held at the Sri Lanka Chess Federation Headquarters, (CFSL) Colombo.
The tournaments are held according to a round-robin system with 14 players battling it out to be crowned National Chess Champion in the Men’s and Women’s categories.
Amidst the prevailing situation, CFSL has successfully been able to conduct the major tournaments in the Chess Calendar and adhering to all health and safety regulations.
CFSL is offering Rs 320,000 cash awards and other attractive prizes, with the National Champion set to receive Rs 100,000.
The week ended with the three top seeds finishing on top, but as history suggests the second half of the tournament always brings a few surprises.
The tournament started off on Friday with the two top seeded players - Susal de Silva (Nalanda College) and Ranindu Dilshan Liyanage - facing off against two veteran players IM Romesh Weerawardane (Fischer CC) and FM Anuruddha Chinthaka (Kandy YMCA). The two youngsters overcame the veterans to kick-start their battle for the title. Ranindu then stormed off to the lead after his 5th round victory over Maheesha Dabarera (Maliyadeva College), whilst Susal and FM Minul Doluweera (Royal College) had to suffer defeats on the way.
At the end of the first week, Ranindu leads the pack with 6 points with Minul (5 points) and Susal (4.5 points) on his tail.
There were a few interesting mid-table performances as well, notably from the new attacking player from Jaffna S Sivathanujan (Grand Prix Chess Club), who went on to upset a few experienced players by scoring excellent victories. He is tied at 6th place with Maheesha Dabarera, Theekshana Denuwan (Ananda College) and Rasika Samaranayaka (University of Peradeniya), whilst the veterans Anuruddha and Romesh sit 4th and 5th respectively.
Nethmi Fernando (Girls High School Kandy) has stormed off to a massive lead by the end of the week, where she has already played against her nearest two rivals for the title as well as the reigning National Champion. It was simply a dominant performance where only Ehsha Pallie (Visakha Vidyalaya) could hold her to a draw in the opening week. Ashvini Pavalachandran (Wycherley International) who is leading the chase sits 1.5 points behind Nethmi, whilst 2 Visakians Ehsha Pallie and WFM Nevanjee Hewawasam are 2 points behind.
Defending Champion Sayuni Gihansa Jayaweera (Dharmasoka College) has had a slow start to the tournament and sits in the bottom half of the table, whilst former National Women’s Champion WIM Sachini Ranasinghe (NF3 CC) also had a slow start to the tournament but later caught up the pace and shares fifth place and may yet pose a threat for the title if she has a strong second half.
The rest of the pack sharing fifth place include Hashara Abeysinghe (NSBM), Tharushi Sandeepani (Devi Balika Vidyalaya) and Tharushi Niklesha (Visakha Vidyalaya).
The next round starts on the 19th (Saturday) and will continue on 20th and 21st followed by the Awards Ceremony.
CFSL has also arranged facilities for all games to be shown live on www.livechesscloud.com, and the results on www.chess-results.com (Sri Lankan Page).