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Asian Continental: Can Sethuraman do in 2019 what he achieved in 2016?

by Satanick Mukhuty - 15/06/2019

Sethuraman S.P. caught Abhijeet Gupta in a superior knight versus bishop ending, and won with a fine display of endgame technique. Murali Karthikeyan overlooked a tactical point and suffered yet another defeat at the hands of  Rinat Jumabayev of Kazakhstan. S.L.Narayan's scything king-side onslaught in Sicilian Sveshnikov proved too much for Vidit Gujrathi. Elsewhere, in the women's section Bhakti Kulkarni went down to Phạm Lê Thảo Nguyên after a grinding 89 moves duel. Bhakti suffered her second defeat in a row. It was round 8, the penultimate round of Asian continental open and women's championship 2019 and we now have a sole leader in Sethuraman SP of India!

Sethuraman is the sole leader in the Open Section

Sethuraman S.P. has emerged as the sole leader after beating Abhijeet Gupta in the eighth round of the Asian continental 2019. It was a Grünfeld Defense and the former was able to get into a minor pieces ending where his bishop proved superior to his opponent's knight.


Sethuraman S.P. - Abhijeet Gupta, Round 8

Position after 18.Bd5

18...Kf6 19.Rfe1 Ra4 could have been a logical continuation for Black here which leaves about even chances but in the game 18...Na5?! was played - this seems to be a waste of tempo, the knight doesn't have much to do on a5 and has to be brought back soon enough. 

18...Na5 was a crucial mistake in Black's play - What do they say about knights on the rim?

Fast forward a few more moves, a pair of rooks have come off the board and Black's knight is starting to face issues!

Position after 30...Nf8: The g6 pawn is a serious weakness and the black knight is tied to its defense

31.a4 Ra6 32.Bc2 Ra5 33.f4 Nd7 was played and White found a nice way to force liquidation.

After 33...Nd7: What is White's best move?

34.c6! creates amazing thrust here and indeed was played in the game. After 34...Rxg5 35.fxg5 Nf8 it was clear that White is winning - the white bishop is a better piece than that knight on f8 tied to the defense of the g6 pawn.  

After 35...Nf8: Sethuraman showed impressive technique from here to bring home the full point.

Sethuraman had won the Asian Championships back in 2016. Can he repeat his success?

Murali Karthikeyan suffered his second defeat in a row, this time against Rinat Jumabayev, surprisingly falling prey to a tactic in the middle game.


Murali Karthikeyan - Rinat Jumabayev, Round 8

Position after 18...Nd4: The e5 pawn is en prise, should White take it?

Well, in the game Karthikeyan actually played 19.Nxe5 and this is a blunder. After 19...Bxa4 20.Nxa4 Rb8 21.Qa7 Black has the beautiful queen fork 21...Qe8!

After 21...Qe8 - forks the two knights! 

Tricky tricky! Rinat Jumabayev scored a nice win over Karthikeyan Murali

S.L Narayanan scored a win in a very tense game against Vidit Gujrathi to strengthen his chances of qualifying for the World Cup 2019

White to move and sacrifice the queen!

Narayanan came up with the fantastic move Qxa5! The queen had to be taken and after Nxf6, the knight, rook, d6 and h6 pawns create a deadly attack against the Black king. The end was very attractive!

Results of round 8

Bo.No. NameRtgPts. ResultPts. NameRtg No.
19GMSethuraman S.P. 2613 1 - 0 GMGupta Abhijeet 260610
216GMKarthikeyan Murali 2593 0 - 15 GMJumabayev Rinat 26257
312GMNarayanan.S.L 26035 1 - 05 GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi 27071
42GMLe Quang Liem 26945 1 - 05 GMFirouzja Alireza 26823
522GMAryan Chopra 2553 ½ - ½ GMAdhiban B. 26764
632GMLiu Yan 2504 ½ - ½ GMMaghsoodloo Parham 26655
76GMNguyen Ngoc Truong Son 2639 ½ - ½ GMLalith Babu M R 257119
88GMLu Shanglei 2624 1 - 0 GMLaylo Darwin 243348
915GMIdani Pouya 2597 ½ - ½ GMNihal Sarin 260611
1013GMVaibhav Suri 25994 ½ - ½ GMSengupta Deep 255921

Standings after round 8 

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 nwwew-weKrtg+/-
GMSethuraman S.P.IND26136,5259135,038,00,086,54,432,071020,7
GMLe Quang LiemVIE26946,0257032,536,50,0865,450,55105,5
GMJumabayev RinatKAZ26256,0252933,036,00,0865,150,85108,5
GMKarthikeyan MuraliIND25935,5260235,038,00,085,54,151,351013,5
GMGupta AbhijeetIND26065,5255734,036,50,085,54,780,72107,2
GMLu ShangleiCHN26245,5252632,535,50,085,55,190,31103,1
GMLiu YanCHN25045,0264136,038,50,0853,002,001020,0
GMFirouzja AlirezaIRI26825,0259636,540,00,0855,08-0,0810-0,8
GMMaghsoodloo ParhamIRI26655,0255331,535,00,0855,32-0,3210-3,2
GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr.IND25985,0255031,034,00,0854,700,30103,0
GMVidit Santosh GujrathiIND27075,0254833,536,50,0855,76-0,7610-7,6
GMNguyen Ngoc Truong SonVIE26395,0254230,033,00,0855,15-0,1510-1,5
GMLalith Babu M RIND25715,0253834,037,50,0854,530,47104,7
GMNihal SarinIND26065,0252232,536,50,0855,05-0,0510-0,5
GMAdhiban B.IND26765,0251633,537,50,0855,81-0,8110-8,1
GMErigaisi ArjunIND25265,0250929,531,50,0854,550,45104,5
GMAryan ChopraIND25535,0250728,531,50,0854,680,32103,2
GMIdani PouyaIRI25975,0249328,531,00,0855,23-0,2310-2,3
IMDai ChangrenCHN24805,0246327,030,00,0854,380,62106,2

Women's Section: Bhakti's stellar start meets a dim ending

Bhakti Kulkarni went down yet again and this time to Phạm Lê Thảo Nguyên in the penultimate round of the event. In what was a tooth and nail fight, fortunes changed hands multiple times, but in the end it was the Vietnamese International Master who came out strong. 


Bhakti Kulkarni - Phạm Lê Thảo Nguyên, Round 8

Position after 26...Qb3

Black already seems to have an edge in the above position with his queen-side pawn majority ready to march down the board. White took swift measures with 27.Rdc1 a4 28.Bd3 g6 29.Bb1 a3 30.Ba2 

Position after 30.Ba2

Next, pragmatic steps were taken to create chances on the other side of the board, 30...Qa4 31.h4 Qa5 32.h5 Rd7 33.hxg6 followed, and now the logical move would have been 33...fxg6, capturing on g6 with the f-pawn and opening up the seventh rank for the rooks. But Black went 33...hxg6, this brought back balance as now White can create effective counter-play with Qg4, Kg2 followed by Rh1 etc.  

After 33...hxg6 White can create strong play along the open h-file

The game continued 34.Kg2 Qd8 35.Rh1 f5, In this position White visibly has a strong initiative on the king-side.

Black has played 35...f5 ... How does White continue to build up on the king-side?

In the game White took on f5 en passant but this was a mistake. Instead 36.c4 Nb4 37.Qe3 Qe8 or simply 36.Rh6 would have been the correct way to push for the advantage. 36.exf6 allowed 36...Rf7 and then came another turning point.

After 36...Rf7 ... How do you evaluate this position?

White's best chance now lay in simplification with 37.Bxd5 Qxd5 38.Qxd5 exd5 39.Ra2 followed by Rha1 leading to an even position. But in the game 37.Qd3 was played and Black replied 37...Qxf6 seizing the initiative.

With 37...Qxf6 Black's pieces spring to life!

After 38.f4 Qf5 39.Qxf5 exf5 Queens were traded and a few more moves later the following position was reached:

After 46.cxd5: Black is ready to blockade White's d5 pawn with Rd6 and his own b-pawn is ready to roll over!

Eventually, the minor pieces too got exchanged and a rook-pawn ending was reached where Black had an extra passer on the b-file.

Position after 49...Rxd6  

It was now only a matter of technique for Black to convert this position which was slowly but surely done in the game. Bhakti fought hard but had to call it quits on move 89 and with this loss she slipped to the sixth spot on the rank-list.  

In spite of these two losses in round seven and eight, Bhakti still remains the best performing Indian player at the event. Next best is R. Vaishali, who scored a win over Gulmira Dauletova.

Dinara Saduakassova is the sole leader of the event with 7.0/8 going into the final round

Results of round 8

Bo.No. NameRtgPts. ResultPts. NameRtg No.
IMSaduakassova Dinara 24586 1 - 05 IMMunguntuul Batkhuyag 2420
IMSukandar Irine Kharisma 23786 ½ - ½5 WFMMunkhzul Turmunkh 2371
WGMKulkarni Bhakti 23805 0 - 1 IMPham Le Thao Nguyen 2370
Li Xueyi 2305 1 - 0 WFMLi Yunshan 2264
WGMZhai Mo 23584 ½ - ½4 Zhang Xiao 2234
WIMDauletova Gulmira 22524 0 - 14 WGMVaishali R 2338
Ren Xiaoyi 22554 ½ - ½4 WGMKurbonboeva Sarvinoz 2259
WGMGomes Mary Ann 2314 ½ - ½4 WGMHoang Thi Bao Tram 2293
IMKaravade Eesha 2370 ½ - ½ WIMMahalakshmi M 2245
WGMVo Thi Kim Phung 2337 1 - 0 WIMSan Diego Marie Antoinette 2080
WGMFrayna Janelle Mae 21573 1 - 03 IMMohota Nisha 2236
WGMKiran Manisha Mohanty 20903 0 - 13 WIMGu Tianlu 2183
Yan Tianqi 20363 0 - 13 WIMPham Bich Ngoc 2167
WIMGalas Bernadette 20733 ½ - ½3 WFMTan Li Ting 2066
WGMSwati Ghate 2220 1 - 0 WIMWang Doudou 2188
WIMMordido Kylen Joy 2133 ½ - ½ WFMMahdian Anousha 2078
WIMHamid Rani 19290 0 - 1 WFMMendoza Shania Mae 2171
Xia Ri Feng 19912 1 - 0 WCMKojima Natsumi 1711

Standings after round 8

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 nwwew-weKrtg+/-
IMSaduakassova DinaraKAZ24587,0234835,038,00,0875,311,691016,9
IMSukandar Irine KharismaINA23786,5233535,037,50,086,54,671,831018,3
Li XueyiCHN23055,5235737,040,00,085,53,811,692033,8
WFMMunkhzul TurmunkhMGL23715,5230333,036,50,085,54,890,612012,2
IMPham Le Thao NguyenVIE23705,5227630,534,00,085,55,230,27102,7
WGMKulkarni BhaktiIND23805,0233037,541,00,0854,670,33206,6
IMMunguntuul BatkhuyagMGL24205,0226633,537,00,0855,71-0,7110-7,1
WGMVaishali RIND23385,0224227,530,50,0855,17-0,1720-3,4
WGMKurbonboeva SarvinozUZB22594,5232932,535,50,084,53,630,872017,4
WGMZhai MoCHN23584,5231735,039,00,084,54,64-0,1410-1,4


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