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Ping Pongs and Pawns at Vibha Khel Mela 2008

April 2008
Ping Pongs and Pawns at Vibha Khel Mela 2008

The 2008 Khel Mela, Vibha’s 6th annual charity chess and table tennis tournament, took place on March 15th, at the gaming center Waba Game, in Duluth.

Table Tennis

The men’s singles event is fiercely competed every year, and this year was no exception. With 40 players in the competition, a combination format was used with the initial rounds played round robin and subsequent rounds, knockout.

Men’s singles finalist Kiran Kulkarni breezed through his preliminary rounds, with his entire family cheering him on. He played against James Morris, who was one of the several members of the Atlanta Georgia Table Tennis Association (AGTTA) who played in this tournament. Morris had a tough match against fellow AGTTA member Gerald Echols in the quarterfinals, but otherwise made it through easily to the finals. It was a fitting finale as these were the two best players in the draw. After Kulkarni lost the first set, he played a tight defense to beat Morris in a tough four-setter.

The men’s doubles event had 16 teams participating. The finalists were Gerald Echols and James Morris and who beat fellow AGTTA members Andrew Dyl and Rene Nielsen.   

In spite of their being the only retirees and of having had to play continuous matches for hours beforehand, Echols and Morris displayed exemplary spirit. Echols announced during the prize distribution that “He has never played against a finer or friendlier bunch of people.”

There was increased turnout this year in the women’s draw. Yiling Hu defeated last year’s junior singles champion Sameera Omar in a tough five-setter. Miss Hu went on to win the mixed doubles title with Shak Shaheed, beating the father and daughter pair of Haneef and Sameera Omar.

The junior singles matches were also competitive, and in order to accommodate the Khel Mela chess tournament participants, two junior boys singles events were held. In the morning Ameet Amin beat all his opponents, and in the afternoon Aadil Omar won first place undefeated. In the junior girl’s singles event, Anjana Kallarackal beat Meenu Putta to win first prize.


At 55 contestants, it was a record turnout and almost double the number of participants from last year, with the K-3, K-6, and Open divisions having the largest draws.

For the sixth year running, Stephen Schneider, founder and director of the chess school Championship Chess, was the tournament director. The tournament used the standard Swiss-system format, which allows everyone, including those who have lost matches, to continue playing to the end. The primary and elementary school divisions played a fast chess game in which players were assigned other partners as soon as their match ended. They did not have to wait for everyone else to finish before they could play their next match, as in most tournaments. This allowed participants to play as many as 7 matches in a span of three hours and generated great energy and excitement among the children.

For the open division, the time control used was Sudden Death / 30 minutes (SD/30), meaning each player had a maximum of 30 minutes play per match, after which a winner or a tie was declared.

This year, the competition saw two highly rated players David Hater and Sumit Sohani in the Open section. Hater is ranked 20th in Georgia and has the rating of chess expert, a title earned by the top 1% of all US Chess Federation tournament chess players. Fifth grader Sohani tied for 25th place in the US K-5 Championship and is currently ranked 30th in the nation for his age group.

Sohani tied Hater in an upset, and there was ultimately a three-way tie between Hater, Sohani, and a third player Milton Chandradas. This was resolved by a playoff which Hater won. Sohani took second place, and Chandradas came in third.   

Ambika Shankar, who was organizing this event for the first time, said, “Ours is a unique tournament in which amateurs and seasoned players alike, and most importantly, entire families, can participate and have fun. We hope to make this an Atlanta tradition and a Vibha tradition for many years to come.”

Final Standings

Table Tennis Tournament First Second Third

Men’s Singles Kiran Kulkarni James Morris Akshay Hattangadi

Women’s Singles Yiling Hu Sameera Omar Patsy Barrett

Men’s Doubles Gerald Echols, James Morris Andrew Dyl, Rene Nielsen

Mixed Doubles Yiling Hu,Shak Shaheed Sameera Omar,Haneef Omar Patsy Barrett, Rene Nielsen

Boy’s Singles Ameet Amin¸ Aadil Omar Kedar Manishankar,Yagnik Tadavarthi

Girl’s Singles Anjana Kallarackal Meenu Putta

Teams Andrew Dyl,Gerald Echols, James Morris, Rene Nielsen Shekhar Dhothre,Jaganmohan Kanchusthambham, Srinivasarao Kanchusthambham, Suresh Kumar Kanchusthambham,Vijay Vemulapalli

Chess Section First Second Third

K-3 Prashanth Sampathkumar Jonathan Choi Hassaan Asif

K-6 Rahul Maran Andrew Hater Vaibhav Vasudevan

K-8 Tarun Daniel Abhinav Reddy

K-12 Charles Ekono Joanna Hater

Open David Hater Sumit Sohani Milton Chandradas

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