2nd Indian Ocean Chess Open (Réunion, Africa)
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Patrick Li Ying, "Roy Phillips (Mauritius) won the 'Battle of the Islands' at the 2nd Indian Ocean Chess Open," (Etang Sale, Réunion).

After an absence of 10 years Mauritius and the Seychelles decided to accept the invitation of Mr Jean Marie Barre President of the "Réunion Chess League" to participate in the 2nd Indian Ocean Open, a 6 rounds Swiss tournament held on the 11-13 November 2005. Réunion island is a French department just 45 minutes flight from Mauritius, though not blessed by the sandy beaches of its sister island it is well known for trekking due to a mountainous landscape.

Eight national champions of the 3 islands (4 from Mauritius, 3 from Réunion and 1 from the Seychelles, entered a field of 46 players to compete for the title of best chess player of the Indian Ocean island as well as a 400 euros first prize. The mixed field comprised of 12 players rated above 2000 ELO as well as a bunch of ambitious juniors vying to obtain a performance worthy of a first international Fide rating.

The first 2 rounds did not produce any surprises as the top-rated players cruised to easy wins but in the third round the first big Seychelles/Mauritius clash occurred. To the surprise of all
Benjamin Hoareau (2016) the current Seychelles champion outplayed the 2-times Mauritian champion Deevarajan Chinasamy (2193), trapping the latter's queen on a crowded board. In another all-champion clash Patrick Li Ying (2178) drew a dull Petroff game against J-Francois Alfonsi (2091) while top seed Roy Phillips who possess dual  British/Mauritian nationality easily  dispatched of local player P. Fievet (2106).

Seychelles champion Benjamin Hoareau (left) versus Roy Phillips of Mauritius. Phillips would go on to win the game and the tournament.

The fourth round saw another heavy weight battle when the leader B. Hoareau met Sylvain Lorans (2149) the current Réunion champion, and in a finely balanced game with the former having rook and 2 pawns against the latter's 2 minor pieces, Lorans blundered knight and the game. On the other top boards Roy Phillips won a difficult game against fellow countryman Pradeep Seegolam (2147) while P. Li Ying drew with former Réunion champion David Rodier (2176). Thus in the penultimate round only 2 players had a perfect score of 4 pts, R. Phillips and B. Hoareau, they were duly paired and in a Grunfeld opening the Mauritian champion slowly grounded the high-flying Seychelles player.

It was fitting that the star game of the last round pitted Roy Phillips against local favourite
Sylvain Lorans but to the horror  of  the  Mauritian delegation the latter quickly built a crushing bind against Phillips' Trompowsky defence. All looked set for the Réunion champion to inflict a first defeat on the top seed but in severe time trouble the Mauritian player put up a stubborn defence which confused his opponent leading to Lorans blundering a whole rook. Graciously Roy Phillips offered his opponent a draw to seal a well deserved tournament victory.

The long time leader from the Seychelles B. Hoareau had a nightmarish last day losing twice, first to Phillips and then to local player
Patrice Gretry (2073) who took advantage of this win to claim an unexpected runner up place.

The tournament has confirmed that Mauritian and Réunion players are finely matched but the Seychelles are no longer the whipping boys of the islands!! The tournament director
J.Marie Barre expressed his satisfaction on the successful organization of this Open and has confirmed the holding of 2 more international Opens in 2006( a 6 rounds 14-16 July and a 9 rounds 14-21 October) in Réunion island. At the Mauritian delegation request he has expressed his wish to invite some South African players next year, even willing to offer free lodging to 3-4 players, those interested should contact Mr Lyndon Bouah.


Mauritius/Seychelles delegation

Posted by The Chess Drum: 1 December 2005