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Asian 2019: Karthikeyan, Sethuraman, S.L.Narayanan, Abhijeet Gupta qualify for the World Cup

by Satanick Mukhuty - 16/06/2019

The Asian continental open and women's championship came to conclusion on 15th of June. Four out of five spots for the World Cup 2019 were taken up by Indians. The open section of the event was won by the Vietnamese GM Le Quang Liem, who finished with a score of 7.0/9, while the women's title was clinched by Kazakhstani IM Dinara Saduakassova who dominated with 7.5/9. Among the Indians in the open section, Murali Karthikeyan and Sethuraman S.P. took the second and third places with 6.5/9 each. In the women's section, Vaishali R. finished fifth with a magnificent final round game and Bhakti Kulkarni, even though she started off with three wins, ended up seventh after 7th and 8th round losses. A final report from Xingtai, China by Satanick Mukhuty.    

Sethuraman falters, Karthikeyan fights back

Sethuraman S.P. was up against the second-seed Le Quang Liem in the final round of the tournament. The former with the black pieces went for the super solid Berlin but his unusual 7th move allowed White to take the initiative early on and liquidate into a favourable endgame.


Le Quang Liem - Sethuraman S.P., Round 9

White has just played 7.d4

In the above position 7...Bg4 would have been a decent choice for Black but Sethuraman went for the dubious 7...Qe7?! here, after 8.dxe5 Bxe5 9.Nxe5 Qxe5 10.Qf3 0-0 11.Nc3 Re8 12.Bf4 White's pieces developed swiftly and his position already started to feel a touch better than Black's.

With 12.Bf4 White completes his development with a tempo, Black lags behind

Going ahead, the queens were traded off on move 18 and the following position was reached:  

Position after 18.Rxg3

White is much better here, his rook and bishop hit the g7 pawn, forcing 18...g6 which makes the dark squares on Black's king-side irrevocably weak.

After 18...g6 Black's dark-square weaknesses are tangible. It only remains to be seen how White exploits them  

The game further continued 19.Bf6 a5 20.a4 c5 21.Rd1 c4 22.Rg5 Ra6 23.Re5 and White slowly and systematically kept improving his pieces.

After 23.Re5: White's pieces look in very good shape but what is next on the cards?

Fast forward to 31...Rab8, White's pieces are optimally placed and Black is snubbed to passivity.

After 31...Rab8, White has achieved everything he wants, now all he needs is a break!

White is done with positional maneuvering now and it is time for him to do something decisive. Here came 32.f4!, strongly threatening f5!

Position after 32.f4!: If White gets f5 in Black will be stifled to death!

The game followed 32...c4 33.bxc4 Rec8 34.c5 bxc5 35.Ke3. At this point it is pretty clear that Black's queen-side pawns are falling, counter-play too is out of question as Black faces back-rank issues thanks to the white bishop on f6!

After 35.Ke3: black pawns on the queen-side are all loose

Sethuraman soon resigned the game on move 38 and thus Le Quang Liem became the Asian Continental Champion 2019 finishing with an unbeaten 7.0/9!  

Sethuraman missed his chance to repeat his performance from 2016 and become the Asian continental champion this year. He finished third instead with 6.5/9 | Photo:

Sethuraman receives the second runner-up award from Tian Hongwei | Photo:

After losing two consecutive games in rounds 7 and 8, Murali Karthikeyan made a surprising come back in the final round by beating the World junior chess champion Parham Maghsoodloo and climbing up the leader-board to the second spot. 

Parham Maghsoodloo - Murali Karthikeyan, Round 9

White has just made the move 19.Qb3 ... What would you do if you were in Black's shoes?

Karthikeyan bravely went ahead with 19...Rxf3 here, sacrificing the exchange. But what's the point? Well, with the white knight on f3 it was difficult to find a suitable developing square for the black queen but now not anymore, 20.gxf3 Kh8 21.Re4 Qg5+ 22.Rg4 Qf5 was played and Black had sufficient activity as compensation for the exchange.

After 22...Qf5: Black is looking at Nf4, Qxf3,dxc5 etc, and his king is safely tucked away on h8, while White's king-side pawns are messed up.  

23.Rg3 dxc5 24.b5 Rd8 25.Re1 was played and Black followed it up with the interesting move 25...g6. The idea here is to go Ng7-Nh5 and next Bh6 is also coming!

Position after 25...g6: Once white gets in Nh5 all sorts of threats would open up!

26.h4 Ng7 27.b6 axb6 28.Nxb6 Nh5 was played and now the rook on g3 was en prise!

Position after 28...Nh5: The f3 pawn is falling

29.Rg5 Qxf3 was on board and now Nf4 eyeing Nh3+ (and if Rg3 then Ne2+) is a devastating threat.

Position after 29...Qxf3: How should Black parry the threat of Nf4?

The game continued 30.Qd1 Qh3 31.Nc4 Bh6 32.Nxe5 (eyeing Nf7+) 32...Rf8 and now 33.Rg2 would have been just fine but White blundered here with 33.Rxg6+

33.Rxg6 is a blunder ... What would you play if you were Black?

Black rightly played 33...Be3! and White immediately resigned!

33...Be3 is the winning move!

The threat here is Bxf2# and if White plays 34.fxe3 then 34...Ng3 threatening Qh1# is simply game over!

Karthikeyan over all put up a commendable performance, leading the tournament for the most part. His brilliant game against Alireza Firouzja from round 5 is something that will be cherished by fans for years | Photo:

Karthikeyan Receiving the runner-up award from Xie Jun | Photo:


Le Quang Liem won 5 games and drew 4, a solid unbeaten performance to become the Asian continental champion 2019 | Photo:

Le Quang Liem receives his award from Hisham Al Tahir | Photo:

S.L. Narayanan finished fourth and booked a spot for the World Cup 2019. He drew his final round game quickly, but he had already done his hard work in the penultimate round by beating Vidit | Photo: Niklesh Jain

There were only five spots for the World Cup 2019, but as Le Quang Liem and Rinat Jumabayev had qualified via other continental championships, two more spots were opened up.

Alireza firouzja finished sixth and made it to the World Cup 2019

Abhijeet Gupta finished seventh and also made it to the World Cup 2019 | Photo;

Vidit showed flashes of brilliance in some of his games, but losses to Praggnanandhaa and S.L. Narayanan proved to be costly. He missed out on the World Cup berth by a whisker.| photo:

Lalith has been very consistent this year and has already climbed a live Elo of 2580. He was tenth.

For Nihal to finish unbeaten in such a strong event is in itself an achievement. He gained four Elo points, reached 2610 and stood 11th

Results of round 9

Bo.No. NameRtgPts. ResultPts. NameRtg No.
12GMLe Quang Liem 26946 1 - 0 GMSethuraman S.P. 26139
27GMJumabayev Rinat 26256 ½ - ½6 GMNarayanan.S.L 260312
310GMGupta Abhijeet 2606 ½ - ½ GMLu Shanglei 26248
45GMMaghsoodloo Parham 26655 0 - 1 GMKarthikeyan Murali 259316
51GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi 27075 1 - 05 GMIdani Pouya 259715
63GMFirouzja Alireza 26825 1 - 05 GMAryan Chopra 255322
74GMAdhiban B. 26765 ½ - ½5 IMDai Changren 248038
821GMSengupta Deep 25595 ½ - ½5 GMNguyen Ngoc Truong Son 26396
919GMLalith Babu M R 25715 1 - 05 GMLiu Yan 250432
1011GMNihal Sarin 26065 1 - 0 IMYakubboev Nodirbek 258717

Final standings

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 nwwew-weKrtg+/-
GMLe Quang LiemVIE26947,0257644,549,00,0976,060,94109,4
GMKarthikeyan MuraliIND25936,5261044,548,50,096,54,551,951019,5
GMSethuraman S.P.IND26136,5260447,051,00,096,54,821,681016,8
GMJumabayev RinatKAZ26256,5253942,546,50,096,55,680,82108,2
GMFirouzja AlirezaIRI26826,0259145,049,00,0965,750,25102,5
GMGupta AbhijeetIND26066,0256544,547,00,0965,250,75107,5
GMVidit Santosh GujrathiIND27076,0255441,044,50,0966,41-0,4110-4,1
GMLu ShangleiCHN26246,0253642,046,00,0965,720,28102,8
GMLalith Babu M RIND25716,0253443,047,00,0965,120,88108,8
GMNihal SarinIND26066,0253039,544,00,0965,580,42104,2
IMVignesh N RIND24595,5257938,540,50,095,53,362,141021,4
GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr.IND25985,5254940,544,50,095,55,270,23102,3
GMNguyen Ngoc Truong SonVIE26395,5254440,044,00,095,55,76-0,2610-2,6
GMErigaisi ArjunIND25265,5251938,540,50,095,54,970,53105,3
GMAdhiban B.IND26765,5251243,047,00,095,56,56-1,0610-10,6
GMChanda SandipanIND25115,5249539,542,50,095,55,030,47104,7
IMDai ChangrenCHN24805,5249037,540,50,095,54,630,87108,7
GMSengupta DeepIND25595,5247437,541,50,095,55,63-0,1310-1,3
GMLiu YanCHN25045,0263246,049,50,0953,411,591015,9

Four out of the five qualification spots for World Cup 2019 from the Asian Continental 2019 went to Indians. This is a huge success for the country! The World Cup 2019 will be held later this year in September in Khanty Mansisyk, Russia. 

Vaishali R. repeats her brother's amazing line, wins the final round game!

Vaishali R. won her final round encounter against Li Xueyi of China to climb up to the fifth place on the rank list. Curiously, this game was an echo of Praggnanandhaa R. versus Ravi S. Teja from the Isle of Man international tournament 2018!

Vaishali R. - Li Xueyi, Round 9

Position after 10.Bxc4  

The above came out of a Caro-Kann advanced, the solid way of playing here is 10...Nd7 11.0-0 0-0-0 but Black decided to become adventurous here and went 10...Qxb2, what followed next was a crushing sequence of events! Below we present this to you as a series of puzzles (and solutions), have fun working through them!

Puzzle 1

Black has just taken the pawn on b2, the c3 knight is hanging. What should white do? 

White went 11.Nce4! this eyes the d6 square. Black can never think of 11...Qb4+ 12. Qd2 Qxc4 because of 13.Nd6+ fork! So now what does Black do here? 11...Bxe4 12.Nxe4 Nf5 is a possible way but in the game Black kept the bishop and went 11...Nf5 right away.

Puzzle 2

With 11...Nf5 Black is putting pressure on d4. What should White do?

One valid possibility is 12.Rb1 after 12...Qxd4 13.0-0 White is much ahead in development. In the game however, 12.0-0 was played directly and Black replied 12...Nxg3

Puzzle 3

13.Nxg3 might seem like an automatic here ... But think again!

If White goes 13.Nxg3 then after a move like 13...Be7 Black is already safe to a great extent. The right continuation, which also happened in the game, is 13.Rb1! a nice little intermezzo that hits at the weak b7 pawn. Black went 13...Qa3

Puzzle 4

Now, how should White continue? Note, the knight on g3 is hanging 

White went 14.fxg3 here! Yes, he gave a whole piece on e4!

Puzzle 5

Black graciously took the knight with 14...Bxe4! How do you, as white, keep the attack going?

You probably guessed it right! Yes, White went 15.Rxf7!! The idea is after 15...Kxf7 White has 16.Rxb7+ and now Black is in real danger. If he goes 16...Ke8 then 17.Qf1 Bf5 18.Qxf5 exf5 19.Bf7# is a spectacular mate. And if he goes 16...Kg6 then 17.Bxe6 with the threat of Bf7+ next move is also decisive. In the game 15...Qxg3 was played.

Puzzle 6

With 15...Qxg3 Black is threatening mate on g2 ... White has to be very careful, what's the best move?

Kudos if you found 16.Rf2 that's the move that was played in the game. Note 16.Qf1 doesn't work because 16...Bxg2 17.Qxg2 Qxg2+ 18.Kxg2 Kxf7 and Black simply wins. So, retreating the rook with 16.Rf2 and defending g2 is the right move. Black here went 16...b5

Puzzle 7

Challenges the bishop on c4 but White has a very strong resource, can you spot it?

The right move, the move that was played in the game, is 17.Qe1 - this is very strong, threatens the bishop on e4 and also a discovery with Rxf8. Black replied 17...Bf5 Note 17...Bxb1 and 17...bxc4 are replied by 18.Qxb1 and 18.Qxe4 respectively after which Qg6+ is a deadly threat.

Puzzle 8

Black blocks the f-file but White can break in a different way. Can you see it?

 White played the spectacular 18.Bxe6!! The point is Black can't take 18...Bxe6 because of 19.Rxf8+ Rxf8 20.Qxg3, Black decided to play here 18...Qxf2 and after 19.Qxf2 Bxe6 we have the next puzzle.

Puzzle 9

White is already winning now... but still what's the best way to finish Black off?

Yes, the correct move is 20. d5!! the final blow to rip Black off completely. If 20...Bxd5 then 21.Qf5 is demolishing. In the game 20...cxd5 was played and here's the final question for you. 

Puzzle 10

20...cxd5 has been played ... What should be the most incisive move for White?

21.Qc2 was played in the game, intending to infiltrate with either Qc7 or Qg6+ and now Black is completely lost.


The game was resigned on move 26. The full game with detailed annotations is presented below:

In the following video IM Sagar Shah explains Pragg's game against Ravi S. Teja from Isle of Man 2018 and the above game is surprisingly an exact copy of this!

And here we have the Vaishali versus Li Xueyi game:

Thanks to her final round win Vaishali finished fifth at the event | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Bhakti Kulkarni began by leading the Women's section of the tournament but finished seventh with a sombre 5.5/9 | Photo:

Dinara Saduakassova finished with a spectacular 7.5/9 and became the Asian Women's champion 2019 | Photo:

Dinara Saduakassova receives her award from Deng Suxue | photo:

Results of the final round

Bo.No. NameRtgPts. ResultPts. NameRtg No.
WFMMunkhzul Turmunkh 2371 ½ - ½7 IMSaduakassova Dinara 2458
IMPham Le Thao Nguyen 2370 ½ - ½ IMSukandar Irine Kharisma 2378
WGMVaishali R 23385 1 - 0 Li Xueyi 2305
IMMunguntuul Batkhuyag 24205 ½ - ½5 WGMKulkarni Bhakti 2380
WGMKurbonboeva Sarvinoz 2259 1 - 0 WGMZhai Mo 2358
Zhang Xiao 2234 ½ - ½ WGMVo Thi Kim Phung 2337
WGMHoang Thi Bao Tram 2293 1 - 0 WFMLi Yunshan 2264
WIMPham Bich Ngoc 21674 1 - 0 Ren Xiaoyi 2255
WIMGu Tianlu 21834 ½ - ½4 IMKaravade Eesha 2370
WIMMahalakshmi M 22454 ½ - ½4 WGMGomes Mary Ann 2314
WGMFrayna Janelle Mae 21574 1 - 04 WIMDauletova Gulmira 2252
WIMSan Diego Marie Antoinette 2080 ½ - ½ WGMSwati Ghate 2220
WFMMendoza Shania Mae 2171 ½ - ½ WIMGalas Bernadette 2073
WFMTan Li Ting 2066 1 - 03 Xia Ri Feng 1991
IMMohota Nisha 22363 1 - 03 WIMMordido Kylen Joy 2133
WFMMahdian Anousha 20783 1 - 03 WGMKiran Manisha Mohanty 2090
WCMKojima Natsumi 1711 ½ - ½3 Yan Tianqi 2036
WIMWang Doudou 2188 1 - 00 WIMHamid Rani 1929

Standings after the final round

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 nwwew-weKrtg+/-
IMSaduakassova DinaraKAZ24587,5235143,047,00,097,55,931,571015,7
IMSukandar Irine KharismaINA23787,0233943,547,00,0975,181,821018,2
WFMMunkhzul TurmunkhMGL23716,0232243,047,00,0965,270,732014,6
IMPham Le Thao NguyenVIE23706,0228840,544,50,0965,720,28102,8
WGMVaishali RIND23386,0225036,039,00,0965,720,28205,6
Li XueyiCHN23055,5235446,050,00,095,54,261,242024,8
WGMKulkarni BhaktiIND23805,5234147,051,00,095,55,110,39207,8
WGMKurbonboeva SarvinozUZB22595,5233240,043,50,095,53,991,512030,2
IMMunguntuul BatkhuyagMGL24205,5228142,546,50,095,56,27-0,7710-7,7
WGMHoang Thi Bao TramVIE22935,5226136,039,00,095,55,080,42104,2
WGMVo Thi Kim PhungVIE23375,0229242,545,50,0955,29-0,2910-2,9
Zhang XiaoCHN22345,0228337,040,50,0954,250,754030,0
WGMFrayna Janelle MaePHI21575,0221832,534,50,0954,300,702014,0
WIMPham Bich NgocVIE21675,0218536,540,00,0954,560,44208,8
WIMMahalakshmi MIND22454,5233139,541,50,094,53,980,522010,4
WGMZhai MoCHN23584,5231045,049,00,094,55,28-0,7810-7,8
Ren XiaoyiCHN22554,5229645,549,50,083,53,56-0,0620-1,2
WFMLi YunshanCHN22644,5227243,047,00,094,54,65-0,1540-6,0
IMKaravade EeshaIND23704,5225339,042,50,094,56,01-1,5110-15,1
WIMGu TianluCHN21834,5225040,043,00,094,53,990,512010,2
WGMGomes Mary AnnIND23144,5224239,043,00,094,55,56-1,0610-10,6
WFMTan Li TingMAS20664,5217532,535,50,094,53,441,062021,2
WIMDauletova GulmiraKAZ22524,0229039,539,50,0944,46-0,4620-9,2
WIMSan Diego Marie AntoinettePHI20804,0227838,542,00,0942,371,632032,6
WFMMendoza Shania MaePHI21714,0223737,037,00,0944,12-0,1220-2,4
WIMGalas BernadettePHI20734,0220836,040,00,0943,090,912018,2
WFMMahdian AnoushaIRI20784,0217633,033,00,0943,660,344013,6
IMMohota NishaIND22364,0217437,540,50,0945,48-1,4810-14,8
WGMSwati GhateIND22204,0217435,537,50,0945,40-1,4020-28,0
WIMWang DoudouCHN21883,5215531,031,00,093,55,27-1,7720-35,4
Yan TianqiCHN20363,5213733,533,50,093,53,82-0,3240-12,8
WGMKiran Manisha MohantyIND20903,0216433,033,00,0934,14-1,1420-22,8
WIMMordido Kylen JoyPHI21333,0215633,033,00,0934,68-1,6840-67,2
Xia Ri FengCHN19913,0213333,033,00,0833,23-0,2320-4,6
WCMKojima NatsumiJPN17112,0213330,030,00,0921,001,002020,0
WIMHamid RaniBAN19290,0211728,530,50,0902,88-2,8820-57,6

Nihal Sarin is the Asian Blitz 2019 champion

Asian 2019 blitz champion - Nihal Sarin

After the Asian Continental 2019, the Asian blitz event was held. Blitz for many is a tiring event. After 9 rounds of classical chess there isn't any stamina left. But for young Nihal, chess is something he can play 24x7. He enjoys the thrill of blitz and he once again proved that when it comes to blitz he can give the best in the business a run for their money. Nihal scored 8.0/9, and won the Asian blitz 2019 gold with one full point.

En route to his victory he beat Deep Sengupta, Sandipan Chanda, Yakkuboev Nodirbek, Praggnanandhaa and Alireza Firouzja!

This takes Nihal's live blitz rating to 2685! Nihal is now breathing down Vidit's neck as far as blitz rankings are concerned. Vidit's live Elo is 2694. Nine more Elo points and Nihal would be India no.2 in blitz. Second place went to Le Quang Liem and third was S.L.Narayanan. In the women's section Zhai Mo won the gold, Vo Thi Kim Phung won silver and Gu Tianlu bronze.

Final standings in Open Blitz

Rk.SNoNameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 
15GMNihal SarinIND26548,0250545,549,50,0
22GMLe Quang LiemVIE26747,0249446,551,00,0
43GMFirouzja AlirezaIRI26606,5256547,050,00,0
522GMErigaisi ArjunIND24646,5244541,546,00,0
69GMTran Tuan MinhVIE25876,5242238,040,00,0
715GMChanda SandipanIND25056,0260248,052,00,0
812GMPraggnanandhaa RIND25546,0256048,551,50,0
913IMYakubboev NodirbekUZB25156,0253344,546,50,0
1028IMSadhwani RaunakIND24356,0252542,044,50,0

Final standings in Women Blitz

Rk.SNoNameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 
17WGMZhai MoCHN23217,5216947,551,00,0
28WGMVo Thi Kim PhungVIE22916,5219745,048,00,0
323WIMGu TianluCHN20686,0231047,551,50,0
45IMSaduakassova DinaraKAZ23376,0226646,048,00,0
521WIMSong YuxinCHN21146,0221645,549,50,0
64WGMVaishali RIND23396,0215739,041,50,0
79IMMunguntuul BatkhuyagMGL22846,0215140,542,50,0
815Ren XiaoyiCHN21756,0213537,039,00,0
922WGMGomes Mary AnnIND20955,5221135,036,00,0
1026Zhang XiaoCHN19905,5218533,535,50,0

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