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Chennai 2018 Round 1: GMs struggle in India's chess capital

by Sagar Shah - 19/01/2018

From the capital of India our attention now shifts to the chess capital of India - the Chennai International 2018. We have 266 players, players from 22 countries, 16 grandmasters and 19 International Masters. There is no rating cut off and the event is open for all. It meant that in the first round 1800+ players were facing 2500+ grandmasters. Many of the games were one-sided battles. But because you are in the chess capital of the country a few upsets were sure to happen. And it did! Suat Atalik lost to Thrish Karthik, Harshal Patil drew against Ivan Rozum and Anup Shankar missed many winning opportunities before splitting the point against Hoa Nguyen. A detailed report rich with pictures, videos, analysis and more!

Who are the top players at the Chennai Open 2018?

Gone are the days when lower rated players are scared of their grandmaster opponents. Playing against an opponent rated 700 point above them is a chance to prove their mettle. A chance to show to the world that they too are capable of playing good chess. The tougher the challenge, greater is the glory.

The last nine editions of the Chennai Open have been held in the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium. But this year we have it at the Vijay Park Hotel.

The entrance of the Vijay Park Hotel

There are two playing halls for the 266 participants. The first hall (above) has 60 tables, while the remaining are the second hall.

This change in the venue created some distress for the players from La Réunion. La Réunion is a French island in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar. It's just five hours away from Chennai. Six players from there decided to play at the Chennai Open. However, they went to the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium. When they realized that the tournament was in Vijay Park, they rushed here but it was too late. The walk over time of 30 minutes was over and the players had to forfeit their games. The manager of the delegation took the responsibility for this situation.

The French players standing outside the hall, not very happy with the situation
We caught up with the head of the delegation and he tells us about the situation

Coming back the event, there were three GMs who faced a rough time in the first round: Suat Atalik who lost to Trish Karthik, Ivan Rozum who drew against Harshal Patil and Hoa Nguyen who drew against Anup Shankar.

Suat Atalik is an extremely strong grandmaster. He usually doesn't lose to lower rated opponents. But in the first round, he seemed completely out of sorts.

Bxf6 is an interesting line in the King's Indian that I urge you to have a deeper look into

Atalik, who was white, was in complete control of the position

I liked this idea of breaking on the other side very much.

All of White's pieces are better than their counterparts

With f4 started the play where things got really sharp. White could have won the game, but instead went wrong and then it was a draw, but....

...with Bb5 Atalik blundered big time and Black simply picked up the bishop with ...Ra5!

Ivan Rozum has failed to fire on this Indian trip and was very much looking forward to Chennai, but the start was slow as he drew against Harshal Patil

I consider Benoni to be a dangerous opening. Not just for the player with the white pieces, but also for black. The strategic risk that Black takes by weakening his d6 pawn is sometimes too much! When a stronger player essays the Benoni, it is understandable. He wants to beat his opponent in a complex game. However, when Harshal Patil (rated 1850) played the Benoni against Ivan Rozum I surely had my doubts. I felt that Harshal would be demolished by Ivan. It turned out that Patil was a tough nut to crack as he hung on. He was worse on many occasions, but he kept finding the resources and eventually drew the game. It was a street fight and for a player who was 750 points rated lower than his opponent, this was a great result.

Harshal Patil from Nashik doing a good job by holding Ivan Rozum

It has become customary for Hoa Nguyen to start off slowly at Indian tournaments. He began with a draw against Anup Shankar.

Things could have been much worse for Hoa Nguyen had Anup Shankar taken full advantage of his opponent's mistakes. Anup played the opening beautifully gaining a great position. I would like to specially discuss the following position:

White played the move Rf8+ here. I am of the opinion that White should not complicate the position when he is in control. Instead just R1f2 Re3 R2f3 followed by pushing the h and g pawns would already giving White a winning advantage. The point is that when you are ahead in material, you must maintain control. Rf8+ enters into a race where White is capturing Black's queenside and Black is getting to White's pawns. This is not something you want when you are winning. In the game, this turned out to be a good decision because Hoa Nguyen blundered and it was an easy win.

Rb8! is just finishing off the game. The threat is a7 and a8. So Black has to play ...Ra2 and now d6 Rxa6 and d7. White is already winning! Anup missed this chance and also another...

Here Rxh7 followed by d7 was very strong. But Anup played d7 and after Ke7 Black was quite out of danger

The top seed and the only 2600+ player at the event Timur Gareyev | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Adam Tukhaev will be looking to weave some of he magic that has helped him win in India on muttiple occasions | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Yuri Solodovnichenko - always a fierce opponent! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Can ChessBase's famous author Sergei Tiviakov score victory on Indian soil? | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The Rajnikant of Indian chess now has the home advantage! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Vietnamese GM Tran Tuan Minh being photographed by two of the best chess photographers. Amruta Mokal and David Llada. This is Amruta's output: | Photo: Sagar Shah

GM Tran Tuan Minh. We will ask David for his photographer! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

P. Karthikeyan's house is very close to the venue, so close that he can come walking. He is playing at the event with his wife Harini Sankaran. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

If you are in Chennai, you must eat the Dosa. Either on the streets, or if you want to play it safe then in Saravana Bhavan which is just a kilometre and a half away from the venue. | Photo: Sagar Shah

Results of round one:

1134Kumar S.185200 - 10GMGareyev Timur26051
22GMRozum Ivan25950½ - ½0Patil Harshal1850135
3136WFMLakshmi C183600 - 10GMTiviakov Sergei25843
44GMSolodovnichenko Yuri257101 - 00Kumthekar Shubham1825137
5138Ghelani Dhairya182200 - 10GMTukhaev Adam25705
66GMSivuk Vitaly255001 - 00Godson Merlin E1818139
7140Triton Maxime18130- - +0GMTran Tuan Minh25487
88GMAtalik Suat253800 - 10Thrish Karthik1811141
9142Kanishk S K180800 - 10GMPruijssers Roeland25369
1010IMKarthikeyan P.249701 - 00Rohit S1808143
11144Anup Shankar R18050½ - ½0GMNguyen Duc Hoa249011
1212GMHorvath Adam248401 - 00Sanjay Thiruvengadam1801145
13146Hari R Chandran179500 - 10FMKarthik Venkataraman247613
1414GMDeepan Chakkravarthy J.247501 - 00Samdani Sahil Sagar1794147
15148Navaratnam Rohan Shan Tze179300 - 10IMKhusenkhojaev Muhammad246215
1616GMCzebe Attila245801 - 00AGMYuvan Bharathi K S1792149
17150Tarimo Didik Widiarso179100 - 10IMVisakh N R245717
1818GMDzhumaev Marat243401 - 00Nitin Shankar Madhu1789151
19152Thaga Sheriff M178900 - 10GMLaxman R.R.243419
2020IMNitin S.242201 - 00Afzal Kazi Md. Mahbub1779153


Pairings of round two:

11GMGareyev Timur260511WCMMrudul Dehankar209874
23GMTiviakov Sergei258411Bala Kannamma P207776
371WFMSaranya J210211GMSolodovnichenko Yuri25714
45GMTukhaev Adam257011WFMTarini Goyal207178
573Thanki Hemal Karsanji210111GMSivuk Vitaly25506
675Manu David Suthandram R208111GMTran Tuan Minh25487
79GMPruijssers Roeland253611Chaithanyaa K G206082
877Mythireyan P207711IMKarthikeyan P.249710
979Nguyen Phuoc Tam206811GMHorvath Adam248412
1013FMKarthik Venkataraman247611CMRajarishi Karthi205084
1181Balkishan A.206111GMDeepan Chakkravarthy J.247514
1215IMKhusenkhojaev Muhammad246211AGMTarun Kanyamarala203186
1383WIMChitlange Sakshi205711GMCzebe Attila245816
1417IMVisakh N R245711Barath Kalyan M202288
1585Soham Datar203211GMDzhumaev Marat243418
1619GMLaxman R.R.243411Chittal Sairaj201590
1787Pranesh M203111IMNitin S.242220
1821IMLlaneza Vega Marcos242111Gaikwad Siddhant200992
1989Sibi Visal R202011Arjun Kalyan240722
2023IMRaghunandan Kaumandur Srihari240211Mohite Ranveer199794

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