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76 participants out of 151 at the Abu Dhabi Masters 2019 are from India!

by Satanick Mukhuty - 03/08/2019

The 26th Abu Dhabi International Chess Festival has begun and the Indians participating have already created a stir as in round-1 itself Antonio Viani, Divya Deshmukh, and Raahil Mullick got the better of their opponents rated 300 points above them. The masters tournament of the event is a nine round Swiss restricted to players with FIDE rating 2100 and above. The Indian contingent of 76 players (total participants are 151!) is led by World Cup qualifier Murali Karthikeyan and National triple-crown champion Aravindh Chithambaram who have starting ranks of 14th and 15th respectively. In this report we bring you the glimpses of first round's action through the photos sent us to from the venue by Rupali Mullick, analyses, and more.   

The Abu Dhabi Masters 2019 has begun from the 2nd of August 2019. There are three tournaments that will take place - Masters (above 2100), Open (below 2100), and the Juniors (under-16). In the masters section we have 151 participants and 76 of them are Indians! Wow, over 50%. There are only four UAE players taking part, but it's also because there are only nine players in the country who have a rating of above 2100.

Abu Dhabi is just a three hour flight from Mumbai. Thanks to this ease of travel a lot of Indians make it a point to visit the tournament to fight for norms and a chance to play against some of the best grandmasters in the world.

One must also not forget that the Abu Dhabi Masters is one of the exposure events for the national junior and sub junior team of India that is sponsored by the Government of India. The other tournament earlier this year was the Aeroflot Open. It is also because of this reason you find so many Indians taking part.

The tournament is taking place in Hotel Sofitel and it will be a nine round swiss event. The time control is 90 minutes for the entire game with a 30 seconds increment for each move from move one. There are players from 28 countries and 48 out of 151 players are grandmasters. Top seed of the tournament is GM Yuriy Kryvoruchko (2686) and there are 17 players above the Elo of 2600. The first prize in the masters section is US $13,000.

Viani, Divya, and Raahil pull off epic shockers!

Three Indian youngsters beat 2600+ GMs. Antonio Viani defeated Yuriy Kryvoruchko (2686), 13-year-old Divya Deshmukh defeated Vladimir Onischuk (2640), and 12-year-old Raahil Mullick got the better of Samvel Ter-Sahakyan (2632) | Photo: Rupali Mullick

Yuriy Kryvoruchko (2686) opted for a rather dubious way of play in the Spanish, recklessly pushing pawns on the kingside and weakening his king to grab material. International Master Antonio Viani Dcunha (2371) with the black pieces was in his very element as he punished the Ukrainian Grandmaster's impetuousness with his calm, confident objectivity. Thus, carrying out one of the biggest upsets of the day.

IM Antonio Viani proved with his performance that not losing objectivity can sometimes bring surprising results | Photo: Rupali Mullick

Yuriy Kryvoruchko - Antonio Viani, Round 1

Position after 8.h3: Black can exchange off his bishop with the knight here with 8...Bxf3 but in the game Antonio chose to keep his bishop pair and went 8...Bh5

It is very tempting to be materialistic when playing an opponent rated 300 points lower than you. White immediately lashed out with 9.g4 to pick up the e5 pawn!

12.Be3 only invited more aggravation on the kingside. 12.Qf3 f6 13.Be3 would have been a wiser choice. 

Position after 14...0-0-0: Although Black is a pawn down, White's exposed king gives him excellent chances.

16.g5 would have been White's best chance to stay in the game. 16.Nb3 instead was a critical error, after 16.Nb3?! hxg4 17.Qxg4 Qe7 Black had the decisive edge.

Position after 24...c5: Black's forces were all over the white king.

A clinical execution by the Bengaluru based International Master! The full game with brief annotations is presented below:

Divya Deshmukh ended up in a worse position against her opponent Vladimir Onischuk but the tables were turned in a span of just two moves when the latter suffered from an inexplicable brain fade! | Photo: Rupali Mullick

Divya Deshmukh - Vladimir Onischuk, Round 1

Position after 29.Nb4: Black stood visibly better here. 29...c5 30.Nc6 Rxb2+ would have been perhaps the simplest way to win but in the game 29...Qd7? was played which just gave away the a6 pawn for free.


Once again, 30...c5 would have been Black's best chance, the point is after Rxc5 Rbd8 Bxe3 Bxe3 Qxd7 Rxd7 Black has good counterplay. However, in the game Onischuk played the abysmal 30...Re6 and this irrevocably sealed the fate of the game. After 31.Raxc6 Rxc6 32.Rxc6 Rxb4 33.Qxb4 Qxc6 34.Qxd4 White was clearly winning with the two extra connected pawns on the queenside.

Position after 34.Qxd4: White's pawns are ready to roll down the board unrivalled, Black simply has no counterplay.

Show-stopper was Raahil Mullick's win against the strong Armenian GM Samvel Ter-Sahakyan where the 12-year-old displayed impeccable control and maturity | Photo: Rupali Mullick

Raahil Mullick - Samvel Ter-Sahakyan, Round 1

White's position was already discernibly better but 27...f6? only quickened matters. Raahil found the crushing way ahead with 28.Nh4 followed by doubling up the rooks on the f-file.

Black has just played the move 30...Rg6, what would you do here if you were in White's shoes?

Well, 31.Nxg6 wouldn't have been a bad move but Raahil showed striking restraint keeping the rook untouched and simply piling up the pressure on f-file with 31.Rdf1! Next it was time to take down the loose pawns on the queenside.

White consolidated with 35.a4 and Black really didn't have any target to counter White with. Resignation came four moves later on move 39!



Some more photos and results

In what was one of the longest games of the round, Aravindh Chithambaram registered victory against WGM Zhang Xiaowen after a long struggle lasting 93 moves | Photo: Rupali Mullick 

Karthikeyan Murali, the highest rated Indian player of the event, defeated compatriot Krishnater Kushager | Photo: Rupali Mullick

The Xtracon champion Praggnanandhaa R. was surprisingly held to a draw by FM Nitish Belurkar | Photo: Rupali Mullick

V. Pranav lost to Ukrainian GM Alexander Zubov | Photo: Rupali Mullick

Vaibhav Suri was held to draw by Shantanu Bhambure (2288) | Photo: Rupali Mullick

Vantika Agrawal went down to GM Santos Latasa Jaime of Spain | Photo: Rupali Mullick

A chess themed dance at the opening ceremony!

Results of round 1

Bo.No. NameRtgPts. ResultPts. NameRtg No.
GMKryvoruchko Yuriy 26860 0 - 10 IMViani Antonio Dcunha 2371
FMRajdeep Sarkar 23670 ½ - ½0 GMNi Hua 2668
GMSalem A.R. Saleh 26680 1 - 00 FMRathanvel V S 2367
IMRaja Rithvik R 23640 0 - 10 GMMaghsoodloo Parham 2656
GMAkopian Vladimir 26500 1 - 00 IMKulkarni Rakesh 2360
WIMDivya Deshmukh 23600 1 - 00 GMOnischuk Vladimir 2640
GMVolokitin Andrei 26360 ½ - ½0 FMDixit Nikhil 2358
CMMullick Raahil 23550 1 - 00 GMTer-Sahakyan Samvel 2632
GMEsipenko Andrey 26250 1 - 00 FMPranav Anand 2347
Moksh Amit Doshi 23430 0 - 10 GMSocko Bartosz 2625
GMIndjic Aleksandar 26170 1 - 00 WIMNandhidhaa P V 2332
CMAronyak Ghosh 23320 0 - 10 GMYilmaz Mustafa 2614
GMBartel Mateusz 26120 1 - 00 IMKathmale Sameer 2326
FMKrishnater Kushager 23240 0 - 10 GMKarthikeyan Murali 2612
GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr. 26070 1 - 00 WGMZhang Xiaowen 2316
Pranav V 23160 0 - 10 GMZubov Alexander 2607
GMTabatabaei M.Amin 26010 1 - 00 FMMithil Ajgaonkar 2314
Srijit Paul 23040 ½ - ½0 GMAntipov Mikhail Al. 2599
GMBai Jinshi 25990 1 - 00 FMGajwa Ankit 2302
FMPranesh M 22960 ½ - ½0 GMPetrov Nikita 2595

Standings after round 1

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
GMSalem A.R. SalehUAE26681,00,000,0
GMMaghsoodloo ParhamIRI26561,00,000,0
GMAkopian VladimirARM26501,00,000,0
GMEsipenko AndreyRUS26251,00,000,0
GMSocko BartoszPOL26251,00,000,0
GMIndjic AleksandarSRB26171,00,000,0
GMYilmaz MustafaTUR26141,00,000,0
GMBartel MateuszPOL26121,00,000,0
GMKarthikeyan MuraliIND26121,00,000,0
GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr.IND26071,00,000,0
GMZubov AlexanderUKR26071,00,000,0
GMTabatabaei M.AminIRI26011,00,000,0
GMBai JinshiCHN25991,00,000,0
GMAbdusattorov NodirbekUZB25941,00,000,0
GMCan EmreTUR25931,00,000,0
GMPetrosyan ManuelARM25921,00,000,0
GMSantos Latasa JaimeESP25861,00,000,0
GMJobava BaadurGEO25841,00,000,0
GMIdani PouyaIRI25811,00,000,0
GMYakubboev NodirbekUZB25741,00,000,0
GMAleksandrov AleksejBLR25711,00,000,0
GMYuffa DaniilRUS25711,00,000,0

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