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Abu Dhabi Masters: A shock defeat for Abhijeet Gupta

by Aditya Pai - 09/08/2018

The second round of the Abu Dhabi Masters turned out to be a good one for the top seeds. While most of them managed to pull out wins in their game, Gabriel Sargissian, Anton Korobov and Vladimir Akopian were held to draws comfortably by Harsha Bharathakoti, RR Laxman and D Gukesh, respectively. Meanwhile, GM Abhijeet Gupta, the strongest Indian in the fray, lost after a miscalculation against Gunay Mammedzada of Uzbekistan. On boards 3 and 5, Swapnil Dhopade and P Iniyan also lost badly against Wang Hao and Daniil Dobov. Round 2 report.

Round 2

In the first round of the Abu Dhabi Masters, we had seen the top seed of the tournament, GM Le Quang Liem fall against a young International Master from India, IM VS Rathanvel. In the second round, however, there weren’t any serious casualties at the top. Sure, three higher rated players among the top ten boards were held to draws, but that was all.


On the top board, Richard Rapport won in his trademark style against Dinara Saduakassova. From the white side of a Classical Nimzo-Indian Defence, the Kazakhstani WGM came up with a novelty early in the game and then castled on the queen’s wing signalling a full-blooded fight. And Richard being Richard, was only glad to oblige. On his 13th turn, he simply offered a bishop to castle short.

Position after 13.a3

It’s not quite clear how black will achieve anything tangible in this position if the bishop is captured. Sure, he has the initiative and white is passive but fact remains that black is a piece down. The computer also calls it even for several moves after the sac but nothing concrete is reached. Saduakassova declined the sacrifice, however, and tucked her king into safety with 13.Kb1. A few tricks later, the following position was reached.

Position after 21...Nxh1

Twenty moves had been played so far and both players had gone nuts to their heart’s content. At the moment, white is a full rook down. Of course, white can collect the h1 knight and keep a decent position. But quite apparently, that’s not Dinara’s style. She played 21.Qc5 here, with a very specific trick in mind. Black rescued his knight with 21…Nf2 and white went 22.Qe7.

Position after 22.Qe7

On the surface, it looks like black can’t avoid a queen exchange since if he moves his queen away 23.Qxf8 leads to an instant mate. Richard agreed with this evaluation and exchanged queens here, missing the strong refutation, 22…Bf5+! Nevertheless, he was still better after the game continuation 22…Qxe7 23.Nxe7+ Kh8 24.Rd2 Rb8.

Position after 24...Rb8

It’s time for white to take the f2 knight now, either directly or after 25.Nc6 Rb6. In either case, white is worse. Instead, Saduakassova decided to seek counterplay here with c6-c6-c7. But this was a bit too far-fetched. Rapport wrapped the game up soon after this.

Richard Rapport won a complicated game against Dinara Saduakassova | Photo: Lennart Ootes 

On board three, Wang Hao crushed GM Swapnil Dhopade with the black pieces. The two discussed a Queen’s Indian Defence in which the Indian GM came up with a rare knight manoeuvre Ne1-c2. Wang was perhaps acquainted with the position. He responded with the novelty 12…Rfc8, intending to exploit the position of the c2 knight after 13.Nc2 with 13…b5.

Position after 12.Ne1

In the middle game, Wang began to press with his queenside majority while Dhopade sought counterplay in a central passer. But as play progressed, Wang was able to catch white’s passed pawn while his own majority rolled down the queenside. Dhopade was forced to throw in the towel 34 moves into the game.

Swapnil Dhopade suffered a miserable defeat at the hands of GM Wang Hao

Board five saw another disaster for team India. Playing against Daniil Dubov with the white pieces, P Iniyan found himself in a mess quite early in the game that began with a Dutch Defence. Players had castled on opposite wings when Iniyan allowed a bishop exchange on the b3 square. At the outset, this looked rather harmless but within a few moves, it was clear the black’s attack was coming at lightning fast speed. Storming his queenside pawns down the board, Dubov went hunting for the white king. While it was already difficult to handle black’s attack on the king, Dubov’s far advanced a-pawn soon became another bone in the neck for the young Indian IM. By the 24th move, Dubov had forced resignation.

P Iniyan's opening mishap cost him an arm and a leg in his game against GM Daniil Dubov | Photo: Amruta

While the lower rated Indians lost on top boards, things weren’t hunky-dory for the top rated Indian Grandmaster either. He was pitted against the Uzbek IM Gunay Mammadzada and was caught by shock in the middle game.


Mammadzada had achieved a slight edge in the game having sacrificed a pawn in the Tarrasch variation of the French when Abhijeet made a fatal error. On his 21st turn, he went with his knight to a5 and that spelt doom for the Delhi based GM.

Position after 21...Na5

Mammadzada responded with the refutation 22.Nb3 and after black took the rook with 22…Nxb7, white simply recaptured with 23.Bxb7 and left black with both his rook and bishop en prise. Gupta tried the desperado 23…Bxf2 but soon white’s material surplus made itself count.

Abhijeet Gupta's miscalculation led to his downfall | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Despite all of the disappointing results, the day wasn’t all that bad for team India. On the top ten boards, three Indians were able to hold their higher rated opponents to a draw. On boards seven and eight Harsha Bharathakoti and GM RR Laxman held Gabriel Sargissian and Anton Korobov to draws with remarkable ease. D Gukesh’s game against Vladimir Akopian on board 10 wasn’t very different either. Gukesh too proved himself to be a strong match to his Grandmaster opponent and held a draw comfortably.


This wasn’t quite the case for the 13-year-old Raunak Sadhwani. Raunak had the black pieces against the Egyptian number two, GM Ahmed Adly and was down a pawn in the knight endgame. It is said that knight endgames are like pawn endgames and with his extra pawn, white should be winning this one. But Raunak fought tooth and nail in this position and managed to gain some counterplay.

Position after 53...g5

Raunak played 53...g5 here, praying that white takes. Adly, of course, did not take – not immediately, at least. But four moves later, he did! This allowed Raunak to get a passed pawn of his own and generate enough counterplay to hold on to a draw.

Raunak Sadhwani showed great resourcefulness to hold Ahmed Adly to a draw

Round 2 results

Bo.No. NameRtgPts. ResultPts. NameRtg No.
145IMSaduakassova Dinara 24951 0 - 11 GMRapport Richard 27192
23GMCheparinov Ivan 27181 1 - 01 GMKunte Abhijit 248548
347GMSwapnil S. Dhopade 24871 0 - 11 GMWang Hao 27114
45GMFedoseev Vladimir 27071 1 - 01 IMVignesh N R 246450
549IMIniyan P 24641 0 - 11 GMDubov Daniil 26916
67GMAmin Bassem 26841 1 - 01 IMNguyen Anh Khoi 245452
751IMHarsha Bharathakoti 24541 ½ - ½1 GMSargissian Gabriel 26808
853GMLaxman R.R. 24491 ½ - ½1 GMKorobov Anton 266410
911GMShort Nigel D 26591 1 - 01 IMNitin S. 244954
1055IMGukesh D 24401 ½ - ½1 GMAkopian Vladimir 265512
1113GMKravtsiv Martyn 26541 1 - 01 IMHalvax Georg 243756
1215GMMaghsoodloo Parham 26361 1 - 01 GMSundararajan Kidambi 243358
1317GMAdly Ahmed 26341 ½ - ½1 IMSadhwani Raunak 242460
1457FMRaja Rithvik R 24361 ½ - ½1 GMLupulescu Constantin 261918
1519GMVocaturo Daniele 26171 1 - 01 IMAkash G 241062
1659IMMammadzada Gunay 24261 1 - 01 GMGupta Abhijeet 261420
1723GMAndersen Mads 26011 1 - 01 IMRaghunandan Kaumandur Srihari 240464
1861IMIkeda Junta 24191 0 - 11 GMPantsulaia Levan 258726
1927GMJojua Davit 25831 ½ - ½1 Muthaiah Al 239166
2065IMDimakiling Oliver 24011 0 - 11 GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr. 258128


Standings after round 2

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 nwwew-weKrtg+/-
IMMammadzada GunayAZE24262,00,026141,0221,100,90109,0
GMRapport RichardHUN27192,00,024951,5221,680,32103,2
GMWang HaoCHN27112,00,024872,0221,680,32103,2
GMCheparinov IvanGEO27182,00,024851,5221,690,31103,1
GMFedoseev VladimirRUS27072,00,024642,0221,700,30103,0
GMDubov DaniilRUS26912,00,024641,0221,680,32103,2
GMAmin BassemEGY26842,00,024542,0221,680,32103,2
GMShort Nigel DENG26592,00,024491,5221,650,35103,5
GMKravtsiv MartynUKR26542,00,024372,0221,660,34103,4
GMMaghsoodloo ParhamIRI26362,00,024332,0221,640,36103,6
GMPantsulaia LevanGEO25872,00,024191,0221,580,42104,2
GMVocaturo DanieleITA26172,00,024102,0221,640,36103,6
GMAndersen MadsDEN26012,00,024042,0221,620,38103,8
GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr.IND25812,00,024012,0221,600,40104,0
GMFirouzja AlirezaIRI25612,00,023671,5221,610,39103,9
IMNihal SarinIND25562,00,023551,5221,610,39103,9
GMVishnu Prasanna. VIND25172,00,022231,5221,760,24102,4
IMErigaisi ArjunIND25172,00,022212,0221,720,28102,8
IMKuybokarov TemurUZB24992,00,022171,5221,760,24102,4

Round 3 pairing

Bo.No. NameRtgPts. ResultPts. NameRtg No.
GMRapport Richard 27192 2 GMAndersen Mads 2601
GMPantsulaia Levan 25872 2 GMCheparinov Ivan 2718
GMWang Hao 27112 2 GMNarayanan.S.L 2574
GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr. 25812 2 GMFedoseev Vladimir 2707
GMDubov Daniil 26912 2 GMFirouzja Alireza 2561
IMNihal Sarin 25562 2 GMAmin Bassem 2684
GMVishnu Prasanna. V 25172 2 GMShort Nigel D 2659
IMErigaisi Arjun 25172 2 GMKravtsiv Martyn 2654
IMKuybokarov Temur 24992 2 GMMaghsoodloo Parham 2636
IMMammadzada Gunay 24262 2 GMVocaturo Daniele 2617
GMSargissian Gabriel 2680 GMPuranik Abhimanyu 2514
GMLalith Babu M R 2520 GMSjugirov Sanan 2677
GMKorobov Anton 2664 IMHarsha Bharathakoti 2454
GMAkopian Vladimir 2655 GMLaxman R.R. 2449
GMParligras Mircea-Emilian 2645 IMGukesh D 2440
GMSalem A.R. Saleh 2636 FMRaja Rithvik R 2436
Muthaiah Al 2391 GMAdly Ahmed 2634
GMLupulescu Constantin 2619 Arjun Kalyan 2390
IMSadhwani Raunak 2424 GMPetrosian Tigran L. 2610
GMKarthikeyan Murali 2609 IMRakesh Kumar Jena 2385

All games

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About the Author 

Aditya Pai is an ardent chess fan, avid reader, and a film lover. He holds a Master's in English Literature and used to work as an advertising copywriter before joining the ChessBase India team.

Previous reports

Abu Dhabi Masters: Rathanvel dominates Le Quang Liem!