The 2023 Sri Lankan University Games Chess Championship lived up to its pre tournament expectations as university teams from all across the country, battled it over the board across 3 exciting days and 5 rounds of action.
Coming into the tournament, the men’s event had 3 standout teams, at least by rating. The 2022 Inter University Champions, the University of Moratuwa and the 2019 SLUG Champions, the University of Peradeniya were always likely to be strong contenders while the University of Colombo was also right up there to challenge. While the first round mostly followed the script, the second round threw up some interesting clashes with the University of Peradeniya defeating last year’s runner up, the University of Sri Jayawardenapura while Moratuwa also got past a strong University of Ruhuna team.
The third round saw perhaps the biggest clash of the tournament so far between Moratuwa and Peradeniya and it was the Mora team that emerged victorious. This set the stage for a thrilling round 4 show down between Moratuwa and Colombo with the action going on until literally the last game of the round with Moratuwa winning by the smallest possible margin 3.5-2.5. The final round saw Moratuwa consolidate their victory with a comfortable win against Japura while Pera sealed second place with a win over Jaffna.
However, in an upset for the ages it was the University of Ruhuna who sneaked on to the podium with a stunning win over the University of Colombo, pushing them off the podium and securing their best performance since the 2015 Inter University Games where they finished 2nd. The outstanding performers of the tournament with a perfect 5/5 score were Raguparan Ilampoornan (University of Moratuwa), DMGS Dassanayake (University of Peradeniya), VI Seneviratne (University of Ruhuna), Minul Doluweera (University of Colombo) and GMS Thilakaratne (South Eastern University of Sri Lanka).
SLUG 2023- Men’s Chess
1. University of Moratuwa (Prasanjith Lorensuhewa, EABT Edirisinghe, HMAK Herath, Sithija Lahiru, Kaveen Ishara, Raguparan Ilampoornan, Thisen Thiyasara, SMSC Sathkumara)
2. University of Peradeniya (Yasas Savinda, Dilanka Ketipearachchi, DMGS Dassanayake, WMGLA Weerasinghe, Kethaka Palipana, Sasith Nipun, Shehan Jayathilaka, KPDCB Jayaweera)
3. University of Ruhuna (MB Wijerathne, Chamath Kalhara, VI Seneviratne, Nuran Ranawaka, JAADK Jayasinghe, Sudesh Malinda, Isitha Wijethunga, WKSP Wijewantha)
The Women’s event had two outstanding favourites in the 2022 Inter Uni Champions, University of Moratuwa and the 2022 3rd placed team, the University of Peradeniya. That would prove to be the case at the end of the tournament with the teams only being separated by tiebreak.
Once again, the first round was devoid of any major surprises, with the University of Moratuwa overcoming a stiff challenge from the Eastern University of Sri Lanka to notch victory. The second round saw some interesting clashes with Moratuwa once again earning a narrow victory over the University of Sri Jayawardenapura while the Universities of Colombo and Peradeniya also joined them at the top. Round 3 was where the 2 leaders found themselves at the top of the table with Moratuwa going past Colombo while and Peradeniya winning against Rajarata.
This set up a Round 4 clash between Moratuwa and Peradeniya and it would not disappoint. In a round with many twists and turns, the 2 teams could not be separated at the end of the day with the clash ending in a 3-3 draw. This set up an intriguing final round where Pera would meet Colombo while Moratuwa would go up against Kelaniya. Peradeniya held a comfortable lead on the tiebreak but in chess as in life, nothing is guaranteed.
The University of Moratuwa did their job with a 4.5-1.5 win over the University of Kelaniya and at this point if the University of Colombo could either draw or beat the University of Peradeniya, Moratuwa would go home as the dual champions. In what was another thriller of a contest, all 3 results seemed possible and it was the Pera girls who held their nerve with a 3.5-2.5 win earning them a deserved title while Moratuwa kept up to the very end to earn silver. The Rajarata University of Sri Lanka were perhaps the surprise package of the tournament, with a last round win over the University of Ruhuna catapulting them into the bronze medal position.
The Women’s tournament saw only 2 perfect scorers with Dasuni Mendis (University of Sri Jayawardenapura) and Thisari Yasaranga (Eastern University of Sri Lanka scoring 5/5). Meanwhile other top performers included Chamodya Yapa Bandara (University of Peradeniya), GPY Wijesuriya (University of Moratuwa), Janani Dissanayake (Eastern University of Sri Lanka) and HMA Herath (University of Colombo) all who scored 5/5.
SLUG 2023- Women’s Chess
1. University of Peradeniya (Ravindi Rathnayaka, Dilmi Jayawardane, Manuli Karunaratne, Pasindi Wijethunga, Chamodya Yapa Bandara, Dulmi Weeraman, Yasasirini Thuduwage, Yohani Bimsara)
2. University of Moratuwa (Sohanee Jayasundara, Sudhara Gallage, TBSH Bandara, Piyumali Karunathilaka, GPY Wijesuriya, Naduni Peththanayake, Anuki Pasqual, Tashini Inoli)
3. Rajarata University of Sri Lanka (IWSS Idamewattha, BAAS Bandara, ALS De Zoysa, NPUN Pathirana, Manuji Attanayake, K Varunya, Nisini Nadara, DWVDP Amarathunge)