Sayantan Das Crushes At Cannes Open, Becomes India’s 81st Grandmaster

Sayantan Das Crushes At Cannes Open, Becomes India's 81st Grandmaster


Sayantan Das becomes India’s 81st GM after beating the opposition at the International Festival des Jeux in Cannes, France. Das entered the A Group of the tournament as an IM, chasing the 24 FIDE Elo points that would bring him to the 2500 mark and grant him the title of India’s newest grandmaster.

Scoring 7.5/9, Das beat former European champion GM Alexander Motylev in the final round to secure the first-place trophy and 1,800 euros. Three-time Belgian champion GM Daniel Dardha came in second with 7/9, winning 1,200 euros. France’s youngest-ever GM, Marc Andria Maurizzi, came in third and took home 700 euros after also scoring 7/9 but placing below Dardha on tiebreaks.

Sayantan Das Alexander Motylev Chess Cannes Echecs Recap
IM Sayantan Das beat GM Alexander Motylev in the final round of the Cannes Open. Photo: Emilia Castelao.

See what happened

You can click here to find all the details of what happened during the event, including games, results, standings, and more, as part of our live events platform.

The nine-round Swiss event took place as part of the Festival International des Jeux in Cannes, a seaside town on the French Côte d’Azur. The festival featured three tournaments for chess players of all ratings as well as parallel Scrabble and Checkers tournaments. 

GM grandmaster das Sayantan india's 81st grandmaster
Sayantan Das with his first-place trophy. Photo: Emilia Castelao.

The tournament’s top seed, Motylev, who played under the FIDE flag, came in eighth overall. In this sharp Sicilian, the Russian player sacrifices a queen for a decisive win over French IM Guillaume Phillipe:

Also playing in the A Group was World Under-18 Champion IM Shawn Rodrigue-Lemieux and British prodigy IM Shreyas Royal, as well as many young French talents. Another familiar face was Chessable author and French GM Adrien Demuth, who came in 13th place overall.

GM Demuth Chessable Chesscom Cannes Echecs FIJ Chess Recap
Chessable author GM Adrian Demuth plays Polish FM Jakub Seemann in the final round. Photo: Emilia Castelao.

Das, who was the World U-12 Champion in 2008, already had four GM norm performances and scored a fifth at Cannes. Having waited six years since receiving his third norm, he finally became a GM after crossing 2500 in live ratings. On Twitter, GM Srinath Narayanan commented on having just announced India’s 80th GM, Vignesh N R, who was awarded the title only the week before: 

Das scored an impressive win over top-seeded Motylev in round nine to clinch the title:

Das played an inspired exchange sacrifice in round eight to secure a draw against Bulgarian GM Momchil Nikolov:

Unlike my last tournament recap from Sitges, I was actually playing in this event… although, not the A Group just yet. I signed up for the C tournament as my first over-the-board event of 2023, having picked up chess two years ago (for those of you who don’t know me, yes, I was inspired by The Queen’s Gambit). Having played my first chess tournament less than a year ago at the Reykjavik Open, I was excited to finally be competing in a under-1600 event against players of similar strengths.

I finished on 6/9, my best tournament performance so far, and even managed to sacrifice my queen in round four for a win against a higher-rated opponent:

Although my games were by no means top-level chess, I challenged myself by playing 1.e4! in a tournament for the first time and made myself proud after playing some less-than-great games in my last event.

The organizers kindly agreed to give me a fixed DGT board and let me have a player camera for the duration of the tournament, which meant I could stream my games to my Twitch community. One thing I hadn’t realized until I got there, however, was that it meant I’d also be playing on the stage alongside the grandmasters. Kind of daunting! I hope my messy middlegames and amateurish blunders at least proved amusing for them when they peered over from their theoretical battles. I have to admit it was nice to wander around and look at the top-level chess midway through my games.

Cannes, which is a relatively quiet town outside of the film festival season, was the perfect location for the tournament. The modern Palais des Festivals reminds me of the all-glass Harpa concert hall, home of the Reykjavik Open, and the third-floor playing hall features harbor views. Close to the town, my friends and I celebrated and commiserated with truffle pizzas and Aperol spritzes between rounds, and after a particularly tough loss, Emilia Castelao and I got matching orange slice tattoos. 

The festival, which was completely sold out, took place over the weekend as the chess tournaments were coming to a close and people came in droves. Tourists and locals alike flocked to the Palais to test out all sorts of new board games, and I envied the festival-goers carrying stacks of new strategy games home at the end of the day, while I sat with rook and pawn endings still to try and win. Plus, one of the stands was giving out Pikachu hats, and I never got my hands on one; it remains my greatest regret of this trip.

The 2023 Cannes Festival des Jeux was the biggest ever with new exhibition areas and no shortage of things to do. This event is also home to the prestigious As d’Or award (France’s “Game of the Year” award), which this year went to Akropolis.

French GM grandmaster Maurizzi Cannes Open Echecs Recap
Cannes mainstay French GM Marc Andria Maurizzi came in third place. Photo: Emilia Castelao

Playing in the A tournament were 12 grandmasters, including Bulgarian GM Radoslav Dimitrov, whose round-two win over Italian FM Michel Bifulco went from a quiet maneuvering English Opening to an exciting kingside attack:

Sayantan Das 81st Grandmaster India GM Indian Chess Player Cannes Open Recap
Tournament winners from left to right: First place, GM Sayantan Das, second place, GM Daniel Dardha, third place, GM Marc Andria Maurizzi. Photo: Emilia Castelao.

For the 2023 tournament, the total prize fund was 10,000 euros, including prizes for top performers in all three sections, as well as veterans, age prizes, and women’s prizes. The organizers remarked on the popularity of the 2023 chess event, stating that it was oversubscribed and that they couldn’t fit an extra table into the playing hall. Both the Festival des Jeux and the annual Cannes Open will no doubt return in 2024 for another very successful year.

Cannes FIJ Festival Indernational Des Jeux Cannes Open Chess Echecs Recap
Festival-goers queue to enter the venue. Photo: Emilia Castelao.

Final Standings (Top 20)

# Name Rating Fed League Club Points Perf Tr.
1 DAS Sayantan 2468

2723 43½
2 DARDHA Daniel 2612 HDF The Cappellois Exchequer 7 2657 42½
3 MAURIZZI Marc Andria 2523 CVL C’Chartres Chess 7 2632 41½
4 GHOSH Diptayan 2553

7 2621 40½

7 2617 39½
6 MATERIA Marco 2410 EAST Bischwiller 2555 43
7 DEFROMONT Benjamin 2343 CAP Chess Rods 2404 37
8 MOTYLEV Alexander 2624 IDF Clichy-Chess-92 6 2562 43
9 LAMARD Guillaume 2526 CAP Chess Rods 6 2553 39
10 SAMBUEV Bator 2407

6 2543 44
11 NIKOLOV Momchil 2480 HDF The Cappellois Exchequer 6 2533 40
12 CLARKE Brandon GI 2473

6 2508 40
13 DEMUTH Adrien 2473 CAP Grasse Chess 6 2508 38
14 SOUSA Andre Ventura 2466

6 2488 41
15 VENKATESH Mr. 2452

6 2475 40½
16 LOISEAU Quentin 2441 CAP Grasse Chess 6 2463 39½
17 DAS Arghyadip 2403

6 2419 36
18 SEEMANN Jakub 2425

6 2408 35½
19 BORGO Giulio 2342 CAP CEMC Monaco 6 2396 33½
20 SCHLEGEL Igor 2289

6 2365 32½

(See full results here.)

The main event of the Cannes Open took place February 20-26, 2023. The event was a nine-round Swiss. The time control was 90 minutes for the first 40 moves plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game with a 30-second increment from the first move.


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