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Armenians rule 2nd Goa GM Open 2019

by Basil Sylvester Pinto - 30/06/2019

Eight days and ten rounds of intensive chess in the standard format at the 2nd Goa International GM Chess Open at Taleigao which concluded on Tuesday saw both the Armenian Grandmasters in the fray take the first two positions. Talking of the great vibe he has with his Armenian GM compatriot, Ter-Sahakyan revealed that he spends a lot of time with Petrosyan on and off tours through chess. “We had a little (training) session together before coming to India. Here, we are always together. We help each other during the preparation. I can say we are good friends,” asserts Samvel. Photo: Basil Sylvester Pinto

Ter-Sahakyan's triumph at Goa

Ter-Sahakyan in action in the last round | Photo: Basil Sylvester Pinto

Rivals they may be across the chess board, but best of friends they are on the chess circuit. In India for three successive International GM Chess Open tournaments (Bhubaneshwar, Mumbai and Goa), the bonding the two Armenian Grandmasters, Samvel Ter- Sahakyan (2611) and Manuel Petrosyan(2573) share is of admiration and respect for one another as professional chess players was noticeable in the recently concluded Goa GM Chess Open. While Ter-Sahakyan with his win in the last round against Georgian GM Davit Jojua (2580) on the third board topped the standings, Petrosyan - his close friend, room-mate on tour and practice partner who was leading by a half point after the penultimate round had to be content with the second place after drawing against Luka Paichadze (2557), also of Georgia, on the top board in the final round.

Manuel Petrosyan drew with Luka Paichadze in the final round | Photo: Basil Sylvester Pinto

While both the Armenians notched eight points from their 10 games, Ter-Sahakyan pipped Petrosyan to the pole position by virtue of the Buchholz system (tie-break). Meanwhile, defending champion, Idani Pouya (2597) of Iran, the other player on eight points came third after putting it across the highest rated player of the tournament and Venezuelan no. 1 GM Eduardo Iturrizaga Bonelli (2637) on the second board.

Ter-Sahakyan talks about winning 2nd Goa GM 2019 | Video: Sagar Shah

On his title at the Goa International GM Chess Open Ter-Sahakyan expressed delight. “It was very nice. In the final round, I played a Georgian player (Davit Jojua). I just powered the board during the game. I thought only about the game and not about the result. I understood I’ve to play and try to make some chances for myself. When I had some chances for a win, I also understood that the first board will probably end in a draw and I thought may be, I have some chances to win the tournament and not only the game,” the 2nd Goa Grandmaster Tournament winner revealed. Ter-Sakhayan’s title-winning performance in Goa bettered his performances in Bhubaneshwar where he finished third after sharing eight points from 10 rounds with two others and Mumbai where he secured 7.5/10 to be placed fourth.


Talking through his all-important win, the Category A winner said, “We (Jojua and he) played the Sicilian Rossolimo and it was not a bad game. I believe there were some moments when my opponent made a mistake. He could not take on e5 because all previous moves he did for this idea...

Ter-Sahakyan Samvel - Davit Jojua, Round 10

Find out why Black cannot take on e5

...Later on, I was in a better position and I could have continued in that position. But I decided to sacrifice a knight after calculating all the variations...

Black just played 21...Rf8. Find out the best continuation for White here.

...It brought me to an exchange position where I finally realized my advantage,” Ter-Sahakyan explained.

Samvel performed at a performance rating of 2704 and increased his ELO Rating by 12.5 points

Considering the recently concluded Goa tourney his best performance in India, he rates it among the best he has played. The other tournament up there for Ter-Sahakyan was a few months earlier in Germany where he shared the 1st to 7th place only to finish fourth on tie-break, a tournament he felt was nice and a very big event.

Manuel Petrosyan is a very good friend of Ter-Sahakyan Samvel | Photo: Niklesh Jain

On his good friend and travel partner, Petrosyan, he had much good to say on his final game where a win would have him a clear winner which was not to be. “I shared a room with him (Petrosyan) in the earlier tournaments in Bhubaneshwar and Mumbai, and in Goa as well. Here, we made a quick draw in round seven when we both had 5.5 points from 6 games. Of course, he (Petrosyan) could have won the title without any doubt and he deserved it as well. In the last round, he played against a Georgian player (Paichadze) and it was kind of hard for him to win.  Prior to the game, he was half a point ahead other players. He played a very solid (final) game which finished as a draw. He played a very nice tournament (in Goa) and in Mumbai too,” he stated.

Samvel suffered his only loss against the top seed of the tournament, Venezuela no.1 GM Eduardo Iturrizaga Bonelli | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Talking about the Goa experience, Ter-Sahakyan, was quite happy. “About the food and accommodation it was more than good.”  Not particular on food, he admitted that he was a big lover of the cheese and garlic naan. But on the flip side, he added to say that the tournament schedule and preparation before each game did not allow him any time for the beach. Incidentally, Ter-Sahakyan was in Goa for the inaugural edition of the Goa International GM Chess Open where he finished fourth after securing eight points.

Samvel's terrific display of his endgame skill against Bangladesh's no.1 GM Ziaur Rahman | Video: Shahid Ahmed

Asked to choose which performance in Goa was better, this year or the last, position notwithstanding he stated that it was difficult to decide. “Last year, I started with five points from as many games, and then lost two in a row, to win the last three. You know it is different, but hard to say,” he declared.

Ter-Sahakyan beat Deepan Chakkravarthy in round 6 | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Talking of the strength of the recently concluded Goa GM Chess Open, Ter-Sahakyan held it in high regard.  “I played against Deepan Chakkravarthy (2557), a very strong GM of India in round six. It was a very complicated game. Somehow I was little bit lucky and I won the game.

Petrosyan got the better of Iniyan in round 8 | Photo: Nikelsh Jain

I see a lot of prodigies in India. I’m impressed with GM P Iniyan (16 years). I know him for a few years because we see each other during tournaments. He (Iniyan) played a few nice games (in Goa). He was at a point in the group of leaders and then he met Manuel (Petrosyan) who played a brilliant game and Iniyan lost,” he said.

On the power failures that affected the games in the course of the tournament, he took a lenient stand. “It was not so good. But you know somewhere else in Europe and other countries it happens. The organizers tried to do everything to address these problems,” he said.

Samvel on enjoying various cities of India and more | Video: Sagar Shah

While coming to participate in Goa once again would be his pleasure, he says he has before and will continue telling the top Armenian chess players to come here and take part.


On a parting note, the 25-year-old chess professional Ter-Sakhatyan would like to quote Norwegian GM Magnus Carlsen and World Chess Champion while advising the chess fraternity.  “Chess is the best thing that I can ever seek.”


The Manuel Petrosyan story

Manuel Petrosyan came too close to the title | Photo: Niklesh Jain

A hallmark of any great player apart from their exploits in their chosen game is their demeanor and the respect they have for the opposition. And the case was no different with Armenian GM Manuel Petrosyan (2573) who came agonizingly close of winning the 2nd Goa International Open Grandmaster Chess Tournament in Taleigao on Tuesday.

Manuel performed at a performance rating of 2685 and increased his ELO rating by 15 points

Needing a win to be a clear winner of the tournament, the overnight leader surrendered his half point advantage and title aspirations in the tenth and final round with six other players half a point adrift, when he drew his tenth and final round. Playing with black pieces, Petrosyn fought hard but eventually had to settle for a draw after the 40th move played by Georgian GM Luka Paichadze (2557) on the top board in the all-important game. With the result, Petrosyan was tied with two others, on eight points with compatriot GM Samvel Ter- Sahakyan (2611) and defending champion, Idani Pouya (2597) of Iran who registered wins in their last game. Petrosyan was pipped by countryman and practice partner, Ter-Sahakyan to the second place by virtue of the Buchholz system (tie-break). Meanwhile, defending champion, Idani Pouya (2597) of Iran, the other player on eight points came third.

Petrosyan is a common surname in Armenia | Video: Sagar Shah

Not hinting at any regrets, with a successive tournament in running, wherein he came second (Mumbai, as well), he was graceful with losing the title to his compatriot and good friend, Ter-Sahakyan. On his own performance, he expressed satisfaction on getting eight points (with six wins and four draws) from his 10 rounds. In his view, he felt he fared a little better in Goa than Mumbai. “I started the Goa tournament on a high winning my first five games. Then I drew the sixth from a winning position against Kazakhstan GM Petr Kostenko (2473) and to come back strong with black pieces against P Iniyan with a win was very important,” he disclosed. He was particularly happy that until the final game, he had a performance rating of 2700 plus.  But he didn’t seem happy on his performance at the first of the three-leg International Open GM Chess tour in Bhubaneswar as he lost six and a half rating points.

Speaking through his decisive game result in Goa that ended in an exciting draw, he had this to say. “I had prepared for that opening. I knew until Bb1, all these ideas I think it was a comfortable position for black (which he played) with no advantage for white (Paichadze). May be, playing Ne7 was not a very good move.

Luka Paichadze - Manuel Petrosyan, Round 11

Manuel thought 15...Ne7 might not be a good move as he missed White's reply. What did he miss?

I missed Ne5 idea. I did not calculate all these lines. After this, white was slightly better and with a queen, rook, bishop versus queen, rook, knight in the end game. I exchanged the rooks and after that Black was okay. In the last position, Black was slightly better. I had this idea that I can play Bb1, Bc2. But also I think my king was a bit weak, because besides his pawn and some checks, I think he had some counter chances. So I agreed for a draw which I think was good result for me”, the 21-year-old GM divulged in retrospect.

Petrosyan also spoke highly of the Goa tournament Category A standard and on the Indian players like P Iniyan who he felt was a very good young chess player.


With power failing a few times during the Goa tourney, he took a soft stance. “If the light goes out for 10-15 minutes and comes back; as professional players we are okay.” Giving an example, where games had to be stopped elsewhere, he said “In the Aeroflot Open in Russia, there was an alert. We had already played an hour of our first game, and we had to get out and return to our hotel. We had to restart the round next day.”


Petrosyan, who has been the Under-18 World Youth Chess Champion and Europe Youth Champion in 2016, says he will look to return to India next year to play a few tournaments.


“I will also tell my chess friends back home that Goa has a good tournament on the chess side and they should come and play,” he added on a positively concluding note.

About the Author

Basil Sylvester Pinto earns a living through his passion for writing. Having dabbled in various genres of journalism, for the last few years he is attached to The Goan Everyday as a sports reporter, and also contributes features occasionally. He is very passionate about fashion photography, high altitude and  loves to travel. He is fond of cricket, has played chess at the college and Goa State Open level and has been a decent National level Scrabble player.


The article was edited by Shahid Ahmed

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