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Karthikeyan plays the game of his life, beats Firouzja with a queen sac on move 9!

by Satanick Mukhuty - 12/06/2019

Grandmaster Karthikeyan Murali pulled off a brilliancy by sacrificing his queen as early as move ninth and flabbergasting his young talented opponent Alireza Firouzja. Vidit recovered from his previous round's upset with an emphatic win with the black pieces over CRG Krishna. Adhiban is slowly and steadily coming into the beast mode with three consecutive wins. Elsewhere in the women's section, a resolute Bhakti continued her streak by clinching yet another victory. Eesha Karavade faltered and found herself in a lost ending against her lower rated rival. It was the 5th round at the Asian Continental open and women's championships, in this report we bring you the highlights of the day's action.

Karthikeyan Murali is the sole leader in the Open Section

Karthikeyan Murali played the game of his life in round five of the Asian Continental 2019 | Photo: Shahid Ahmed

Murali Karthikeyan produced an absolute cracker of a game against the 2682 rated Iranian genius Alireza Firouzja. The latter with white pieces played an unusual eighth move in the King's Indian. Boy! Was he in for a shock! Let us begin by looking at this masterpiece that the 20 years old Grandmaster from Tamil Nadu created today!

Alireza Firouzja - Murali Karthikeyan, Round 5

Position after 7...Qa5, the c3 knight is pinned and the e4 pawn is en prise. What should White do?  

Well, the usual move here is 8.Qd2, breaking the pin, but Alireza became a bit creative here and went 8.Nd2!? The idea is after 8...cxd4 9.Nb3 Qc7 10.Nxd4 White captures on d4 with the knight and achieves a standard Maróczy bind.

This is the position White intended to have but Chess, like life, is full of surprises!

There is a stunning possibility that White has missed... The game went 8...cxd4 9.Nb3 and Black, to everyone's horror, replied with 9...Qxc3+!!?? a queen sacrifice!

This is essentially giving up the queen for just two minor pieces!

10.bxc3 dxe3 11.f3 was played and Black has given up a whole queen for just a knight and a bishop! So what's going on here? After 11...Nh5 12.Qc1 Bh6 13.g4 Nf4 it slowly starts to dawn upon us - White, with his king stuck in the middle of the board, is kind of aimless and uncoordinated; while Black has absolutely no weaknesses, his pieces are poised and ready to spring into action!

Position after 13...Nf4 

It is easy for Black to regroup his pieces: the c8 bishop can go to c6 via d7, the b8 knight to e5 also via d7, the h6 bishop can access both h6-c1 and h8-a1 diagonals, and finally, the rooks are ready to get into the c-file. Black spent the next few moves trying to realize the best possible configuration for his pieces. White, in the mean time, found no means to make any real progress!

After 19...Rac8: Black's minor pieces dominate the center of the board! 

After 26...Bc6: Bishops, knights, rooks - all well coordinated!

But you can improve your pieces only so much, after a while you have to make a break. Karthikeyan's timing in that too was impeccable. In the above position White played 27.Bg2 and Black lashed out with 27...f5!

27...f5! The right time to open up!

The game continued 28.gxf6 (e.p) Bxf6 29.Rf1 Bxc3 and the following position was on the board:

Black's pieces are all over...What should White play here?

30.Qxc5 Nxc5 31.Rxf8+ Kxf8 32.Kxc3 was played - Alireza, out of desperation, decided to return the queen and liquidate, but even this wasn't of any avail!

Position after 32.Kxc3

After 32...Ne5 33.a5 Nxe4+ 34.Bxe4 Bxe4 Black's extra pawns are simply too much for White. 

After 34...Bxe4: Black has four pawns+Bishop against White's rook

However, the game continued until White decided after the 52nd move to call it a day!

White resigned after 52...Kf3 

After this brilliant show, Karthikeyan has emerged as the sole leader in the open section of the tournament with an impressive score of 4.5/5!

IM Sagar Shah analyses Karthikeyan's brilliancy

Watch out, Adhiban is slowly and steadily getting into the beast mode with three consecutive wins! | Photo: David Llada

Elsewhere, Adhiban Baskaran registered his third consecutive victory against Karthik Venkataraman and stands on 4.0/5 alongside compatriots Sethuraman S.P. , who drew his game today against Lu Shanglei. Lalith Babu M. R. won against S.L.Narayanan. After yesterday's loss to Praggnanandhaa, it was interesting to see the top-seed Vidit Gujrathi make a come back by beating IM Krishna C.R.G, Vidit is in a tough spot and will have to win almost every game from now on to qualify for this year's World Cup. Let us check the key moment from his game today:

Krishna C.R.G. - Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, Round 5

Black has just played 20...Qa4, what should White play?

In the above position arising out of a Modern defense White could have just gone 21.Bxe7, after 21...Bd7 22.Ra5 Qxc4 the position is roughly equal. But in the game 21.f4? was played and this is a mistake, falls prey to a tactic.

White has erred with 21.f4 ... Can you see why?

Black went 21...e6 and after 22.Qe4 Nxc4 the rook on b5 is trapped!

Position after 22...Nxc4

White resigned the game soon enough on the 27th move.

Results of round 5:

Bo.No. NameRtgPts. ResultPts. NameRtg No.
13
GMFirouzja Alireza 2682 0 - 1 GMKarthikeyan Murali 2593
16
29
GMSethuraman S.P. 2613 ½ - ½3 GMLu Shanglei 2624
8
34
GMAdhiban B. 26763 1 - 03 GMKarthik Venkataraman 2499
34
47
GMJumabayev Rinat 26253 1 - 03 FMZou Chen 2415
50
511
GMNihal Sarin 26063 ½ - ½3 GMZeng Chongsheng 2561
20
619
GMLalith Babu M R 25713 1 - 03 GMNarayanan.S.L 2603
12
724
GMPraggnanandhaa R 25373 ½ - ½3 GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr. 2598
14
832
GMLiu Yan 25043 ½ - ½3 GMXu Xiangyu 2583
18
930
GMChanda Sandipan 2511 0 - 1 GMLe Quang Liem 2694
2
105
GMMaghsoodloo Parham 2665 ½ - ½ GMWan Yunguo 2531
26
1123
GMXu Yinglun 2548 ½ - ½ GMNguyen Ngoc Truong Son 2639
6
1265
Sankalp Gupta 2359 0 - 1 GMGupta Abhijeet 2606
10
1331
GMVishnu Prasanna. V 2511 ½ - ½ GMAryan Chopra 2553
22
1415
GMIdani Pouya 25972 1 - 0 GMNguyen Duc Hoa 2436
47
1537
IMKrishna C R G 24812 0 - 12 GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi 2707
1
1613
GMVaibhav Suri 25992 1 - 02 IMBersamina Paulo 2446
44
1717
IMYakubboev Nodirbek 25872 1 - 02 IMVignesh N R 2459
41
1821
GMSengupta Deep 25592 1 - 02 Zhao Yuanhe 2444
45
1946
IMRaja Harshit 24372 0 - 12 GMErigaisi Arjun 2526
27
2048
GMLaylo Darwin 24332 1 - 02 GMTran Tuan Minh 2526
28

Standings after round 5

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 nwwew-weKrtg+/-
116GMKarthikeyan MuraliIND25934,5257813,515,50,054,52,821,681016,8
29GMSethuraman S.P.IND26134,0255612,514,50,0543,040,96109,6
34GMAdhiban B.IND26764,0249110,011,50,0543,800,20102,0
47GMJumabayev RinatKAZ26254,0247810,512,50,0543,540,46104,6
519GMLalith Babu M RIND25714,0245211,013,00,0543,360,64106,4
624GMPraggnanandhaa RIND25373,5267013,515,00,053,52,021,481014,8
732GMLiu YanCHN25043,5263514,015,50,053,52,081,421014,2
83GMFirouzja AlirezaIRI26823,5256714,516,50,053,53,380,12101,2
914GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr.IND25983,5254311,513,50,053,53,040,46104,6
1010GMGupta AbhijeetIND26063,5253911,013,50,053,53,170,33103,3
118GMLu ShangleiCHN26243,5252412,014,00,053,53,310,19101,9
122GMLe Quang LiemVIE26943,5251911,012,50,053,53,72-0,2210-2,2
1311GMNihal SarinIND26063,5249912,515,50,053,53,330,17101,7
1420GMZeng ChongshengCHN25613,5247810,011,50,053,53,160,34103,4
1518GMXu XiangyuCHN25833,5247010,512,50,053,53,350,15101,5
1623GMXu YinglunCHN25483,0260912,014,50,0532,390,61106,1
1750FMZou ChenCHN24153,0260014,517,50,0531,341,661016,6
1831GMVishnu Prasanna. VIND25113,0259713,514,50,0532,290,71107,1
1934GMKarthik VenkataramanIND24993,0255913,014,50,0532,530,47104,7
2026GMWan YunguoCHN25313,0253211,514,00,0532,760,24102,4

 

Newly minted IM, Bhakti Kulkarni leads women's Section

Bhakti Kulkarni continues her winning ways as she leads the tournament with 4.5/5 | Photo: David Llada

The newly crowned International Master of India Bhakti Kulkarni squeezed out yet another win to emerge as the sole leader in Women's category. The following ending seems perfectly equal:

Kurbonboeva Sarvinoz - Bhakti Kulkarni, Round 5

Position after 46.Ke3 

But it is said that when you have the resolve, things go your way, Bhakti's opponent Kurbonboeva Sarvinoz made an unforced error and the former seized the opportunity with both hands. Black played 46...Bd4+ and White carelessly moved 47.Ke4, this puts the king in a compromising position. After 47...Rd1 there is no good way of preventing f5+ followed by Rxd3 ... The simple 48.Nc5 for instance, runs into 48...f5+ 49.Kd5 Bxc5+. The game went 48.g4 f5+ 49.gxf5+ gxf5 50.Kxf5 Rxd3 and White soon resigned.

Eesha Karavade suffered a bitter upset in the hands of lower rated Dauletova Gulmira. 

Dauletova Gulmira versus Eesha Karavade, Round 5

Position after 22.Bxa4: White is threatening to take on c6 ... How should Black proceed?

22...Bb6+ 23.Kh1 was played but then Black made a dubious choice with 23...Nb8?! Much better would have been 23...Rfc8 24.Rfd1 Nf8

Position after 23...Nb8

The game continued 24.Rfd1 axb4 25.axb4 Rd8 26.Rxd8 Bxd8 and then came 27.b5 - a testing move!

Position after 27.b5 - Would you play 27...cxb5? 

In the game, Black indeed went 27...cxb5 and this was a mistake. The point is after 28.Bxb5 Rxa1 29.Bxa1 the b8 knight is trapped.

The b8 knight is trapped, nor does the black king have a good way to join on the queenside

Fast forward a few more moves and White has created a strong passer:

Position after 34.Bd8

The game was resigned soon on move 41.

Results of round 5

Bo.No. NameRtgPts. ResultPts. NameRtg No.
11
IMSaduakassova Dinara 2458 ½ - ½ IMSukandar Irine Kharisma 2378
4
215
WGMKurbonboeva Sarvinoz 22593 0 - 1 WGMKulkarni Bhakti 2380
3
37
IMPham Le Thao Nguyen 2370 0 - 13 Li Xueyi 2305
12
417
WIMDauletova Gulmira 2252 1 - 0 IMKaravade Eesha 2370
6
58
WGMZhai Mo 2358 ½ - ½ WIMMahalakshmi M 2245
18
69
WGMVaishali R 2338 ½ - ½ WIMGu Tianlu 2183
23
713
WGMHoang Thi Bao Tram 2293 0 - 1 WGMVo Thi Kim Phung 2337
10
82
IMMunguntuul Batkhuyag 24202 1 - 0 Ren Xiaoyi 2255
16
95
WFMMunkhzul Turmunkh 23712 1 - 02 WGMSwati Ghate 2220
21
1024
WFMMendoza Shania Mae 21712 ½ - ½2 WGMGomes Mary Ann 2314
11
1114
WFMLi Yunshan 22642 ½ - ½2 WIMSan Diego Marie Antoinette 2080
29
1231
WIMGalas Bernadette 2073 ½ - ½ IMMohota Nisha 2236
19
1322
WIMWang Doudou 2188 1 - 0 WGMKiran Manisha Mohanty 2090
28
1430
WFMMahdian Anousha 2078 0 - 1 WIMPham Bich Ngoc 2167
25
1532
WFMTan Li Ting 2066 1 - 0 WIMMordido Kylen Joy 2133
27
1620
Zhang Xiao 22341 1 - 01 Yan Tianqi 2036
33
1734
Xia Ri Feng 19911 1 - 01 WGMFrayna Janelle Mae 2157
26
1835
WIMHamid Rani 19290 0 - 1½ WCMKojima Natsumi 1711
36

Ranking after round 5:

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 nwwew-weKrtg+/-
13
WGMKulkarni BhaktiIND23804,5231412,514,50,054,53,061,442028,8
212
Li XueyiCHN23054,0235811,513,00,0542,511,492029,8
34
IMSukandar Irine KharismaINA23784,0233512,515,00,0542,991,011010,1
41
IMSaduakassova DinaraKAZ24584,0233014,516,50,0543,460,54105,4
510
WGMVo Thi Kim PhungVIE23373,5232211,513,00,053,52,890,61106,1
617
WIMDauletova GulmiraKAZ22523,5230010,510,50,053,52,610,892017,8
715
WGMKurbonboeva SarvinozUZB22593,0238714,015,00,0532,100,902018,0
818
WIMMahalakshmi MIND22453,0233513,014,50,0532,430,572011,4
98
WGMZhai MoCHN23583,0229713,014,00,0533,08-0,0810-0,8
105
WFMMunkhzul TurmunkhMGL23713,0228213,015,00,0533,23-0,2320-4,6
112
IMMunguntuul BatkhuyagMGL24203,022309,510,50,0533,80-0,8010-8,0
1223
WIMGu TianluCHN21833,0221510,512,00,0532,500,502010,0
139
WGMVaishali RIND23383,0221310,512,00,0533,44-0,4420-8,8
1416
Ren XiaoyiCHN22552,5239712,514,50,041,51,250,25205,0
1524
WFMMendoza Shania MaePHI21712,5229610,511,50,052,52,040,46209,2
1629
WIMSan Diego Marie AntoinettePHI20802,5229610,012,00,052,51,301,202024,0
1713
WGMHoang Thi Bao TramVIE22932,5229412,514,00,052,52,75-0,2510-2,5
1814
WFMLi YunshanCHN22642,5226912,515,00,052,52,72-0,2240-8,8
197
IMPham Le Thao NguyenVIE23702,5226612,514,50,052,53,40-0,9010-9,0
206
IMKaravade EeshaIND23702,5226011,513,50,052,53,36-0,8610-8,6