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Asian 2019 Round 1: Vidit sizzles, Bhakti's grit and Nihal's sapient show

by Satanick Mukhuty - 08/06/2019

The Asian continental open and women's championship 2019 has begun in Xingtai, China. In round 1 top seed Vidit Gujrathi punished his opponent Dai Changren for his dubious play. The youngest 2600 player in the world, Nihal Sarin, displayed superior positional understanding by subjecting his Filipino adversary to a slow grind. Elsewhere, Vaibhav Suri suffered a shocking defeat at the hands of a much lower rated Zou Chen. In the Women's section the encounter between Bhakti Kulkarni and Swati Ghate lasted for a staggering 80 moves and saw fortune change hands multiple times. The Asian Championships is a key event in the calendar, because top five in open and the winner in women's section qualify for the World Cup 2019. In this report we bring you the highlights of the first day's action.

Asian Championships 2019 | Photo:

The Asian continental open and women's championship 2019 is a nine-round Swiss event taking place from 6th to 15th June in Xingtai, China. The open section of this event determines five qualifiers for the 2019 World cup, while the winner of the women's event qualifies for the 2020 Women's World Cup. The time control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves and 30 minutes for the rest of the game with 30 seconds increment for every move from move one. 

Open Section

Indian GM Vidit Gujrathi is the top seed at the Asian Championships 2019 | Photo:

Let us begin by looking at Vidit's victory in round 1 of the event:


Vidit Gujrathi - Dai Changren, Round 1

The above is after Black's 11...h5?! It is from around this point White slowly starts taking control of the game, the weakening pawn-push has given up the g5 square which begins to look like a tempting outpost for White. The simple 11...Ngf6 would have been a better move for Black.  

e4! by Vidit was a logical move exploiting his lead in development

After few more moves White has successfully lodged his knight on g5 and is looking to bring his rook on the open e-file when Black went 16...Kf8?, a mistake that immediately sealed Black's fate. After 17. d5! c5 18.d6! Bf6 19.Nd5 White took complete charge of the position.

From here Vidit showed impeccable technique to bring home the full point. The game with brief comments can be seen below:

Vidit would definitely be looking at top five spots, as he has not qualified for the World Cup yet. However, he has also never won the Asian title. Having one to his name would not be a bad idea! | Photo:

India's National Triple Crown champion against the youngest 2600+ player in the world! Aravindh and Nihal both on their way to the event. So how do you prepare for such an important tournament? Of course by playing bullet! For people who enjoy the journey, the destination really isn't so important! | Photo: Nihal Sarin

Nihal Sarin was just in his element against Laylo Darwin today. The following shows position after White's 11th move:


Nihal Sarin - Laylo Darwin, Round 1

Certainly, White isn't winning in this position but he has a perceptible edge. His pieces are better developed and occupies more space, on the other hand Black will always face issues with developing his f8 bishop. This is just the kind of position that Nihal excels in!

The above shows position after White's 21.Ra3! - a fine rook lift, White slowly closes in on the kingside and all Black can do is wait and watch. After 21...Raf8 22.Rh2 Qd8 23.g4! h4 24.g5!

White has completely incapacitated Black, just have a look at that hapless bishop on g7!

Black gave away an exchange in desperation at this point but nothing worked. The game was resigned on the 44th move in a lost ending.

Vaibhav Suri made an unfortunate blunder in the following even position to lose his game against Zou Chen.


Vaibhav Suri - Zou Chen, Round 1

Black has just played 26...Nf4+, what should White do?

27.Kg1 Qh3 28.Nh4 would have been perfectly fine but White casually moved 27.Kh1? and this is a huge mistake - in this case 27...Qh3 is simply winning. The point is now 28. Nh4 is met with 28...Ng2!! and White can't go 29.Nxg2 because of 29...Ng4! In the game 28.Rg1 Nxd3 was played and White soon crumbled.

Vaibhav Suri had a setback at the start of his campaign, but we all know how dangerous he is once he gets into his groove | Photo:

Second seed of the tournament Le Quang Liem drew his round one game against Sumiya Bilguun | Photo:

Sethuraman managed to defeat his compatriot Harshit Raja in round one

Young talent Arjun Erigaisi is back on the board after his tenth grade examinations and will be looking to make a mark at this event. He drew his round 1 game against Srijit Paul | Photo:

It will be interesting to see how our triple national champion Aravindh Chithambaram performs here. He drew his first round against Emmanuel Garcia (2413) | Photo:

G. Akash managed to hold Nodirbek Yakkuboev to a draw | Photo:

Results of round 1

Bo.No.NameRtgPts. ResultPts. NameRtgNo.
11GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi 27070 1 - 00 IMDai Changren 248038
239IMBilguun Sumiya 24780 ½ - ½0 GMLe Quang Liem 26942
33GMFirouzja Alireza 26820 1 - 00 GMGomez John Paul 246740
441IMVignesh N R 24590 ½ - ½0 GMAdhiban B. 26764
55GMMaghsoodloo Parham 26650 1 - 00 IMChen Qi B 245342
643GMTorre Eugenio 24510 0 - 10 GMNguyen Ngoc Truong Son 26396
77GMJumabayev Rinat 26250 1 - 00 IMBersamina Paulo 244644
845Zhao Yuanhe 24440 ½ - ½0 GMLu Shanglei 26248
99GMSethuraman S.P. 26130 1 - 00 IMRaja Harshit 243746
1047GMNguyen Duc Hoa 24360 0 - 10 GMGupta Abhijeet 260610
1111GMNihal Sarin 26060 1 - 00 GMLaylo Darwin 243348
1249IMBattulga Namkhai 24250 0 - 10 GMNarayanan.S.L 260312
1313GMVaibhav Suri 25990 0 - 10 FMZou Chen 241550
1451IMGarcia Jan Emmanuel 24130 ½ - ½0 GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr. 259814
1515GMIdani Pouya 25970 ½ - ½0 Zhang Ziji 240852
1653Harshavardhan G B 24060 0 - 10 GMKarthikeyan Murali 259316
1717IMYakubboev Nodirbek 25870 ½ - ½0 IMAkash G 240454
1855IMKojima Shinya 24000 0 - 10 GMXu Xiangyu 258318
1919GMLalith Babu M R 25710 ½ - ½0 Lin Yi 239656
2057IMRahul Srivatshav P 23950 1 - 00 GMZeng Chongsheng 256120

Women's section:

Indian campaign in the women's section is led by Bhakti Kulkarni (2380) who is the third seed at the event. Bhakti needed 20 points from this event for becoming an IM, and after the first round she requires 14! | Photo:

In the Women's event Bhakti Kulkarni played a crazy game against Swati Ghate that was full of ups and downs. Let us look at the key moments from this stupendous encounter:


Bhakti Kulkarni - Swati Ghate, round 1

Black has just played the rash 23...f5, this allows the powerful 24.e5, of course 24...dxe5 can't be taken because of 25.d6+ discovery. In the game 24...Nh5 25.e6 Nf6 was played and White had a decisive advantage. It seemed the game would be over quickly from here but fate had something else in store.

As they say, winning a won game is the most difficult. In the above position Black has played 35...Ng7, White is definitely winning but what should be a good course forward? 36.Rde1 was played here, which seems normal at first glance but a closer look reveals that after 36...Rexf7 37.exf7+ Qxf7 White has lost most of the advantage. Instead getting the knight out from f7 with Nh6+ would have helped White to keep his edge. Back to equillibrium the game kept going on and after some 14 moves the following position was reached:

The above is after 50.Kg2 and it is Black who is in the driver's seat here. The connected passers on the queenside looks quite menacing. But surprisingly, fortunes changed hands yet again. After 50...Qf6 51.Qxf6+ Black erred with 51...Kxf6 and the game returned back to equality.

In the above, after 51...Rxf6 52.Rb8 Rf8 would have preserved Black's initiative. In the game the initiative fizzled out after 51...Kxf6 52.Rb8 Ke5 53.Rxc4

Fast forward 15 more moves, White has survived the scare and now has an edge, 68.Ra7+ Ba6 has turned the tables over again. From here, it was not long after that Black succumbed under pressure and resigned in the following totally lost position:

The final blunder. Bhakti managed to win!

The player with the better resolve prevailed!

Top seed Dinara Saduakassova managed to get the better of IM Nisha Mohota | Photo:

A true inspiration! Rani Hamid is 74 years old and she still continues to play actively for Bangladesh | Photo:

Results of round 1

Bo.No. NameRtgPts. ResultPts. NameRtg No.
IMSaduakassova Dinara 24580 1 - 00 IMMohota Nisha 2236
Zhang Xiao 22340 1 - 00 IMMunguntuul Batkhuyag 2420
WGMKulkarni Bhakti 23800 1 - 00 WGMSwati Ghate 2220
WIMWang Doudou 21880 0 - 10 IMSukandar Irine Kharisma 2378
WFMMunkhzul Turmunkh 23710 1 - 00 WIMGu Tianlu 2183
WFMMendoza Shania Mae 21710 ½ - ½0 IMKaravade Eesha 2370
IMPham Le Thao Nguyen 23700 1 - 00 WIMPham Bich Ngoc 2167
WGMFrayna Janelle Mae 21570 ½ - ½0 WGMZhai Mo 2358
WGMVaishali R 23380 1 - 00 WIMMordido Kylen Joy 2133
WGMKiran Manisha Mohanty 20900 0 - 10 WGMVo Thi Kim Phung 2337
WGMGomes Mary Ann 23140 ½ - ½0 WIMSan Diego Marie Antoinette 2080
WFMMahdian Anousha 20780 0 - 10 Li Xueyi 2305
WGMHoang Thi Bao Tram 22930 1 - 00 WIMGalas Bernadette 2073
WFMTan Li Ting 20660 0 - 10 WFMLi Yunshan 2264
WGMKurbonboeva Sarvinoz 22590 1 - 00 Yan Tianqi 2036
Xia Ri Feng 19910 - - +0 Ren Xiaoyi 2255
WIMDauletova Gulmira 22520 1 - 00 WIMHamid Rani 1929
WCMKojima Natsumi 17110 0 - 10 WIMMahalakshmi M 2245

Round 2 begins at 11.30 a.m. IST and you can follow the games live here

Completed games


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