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Gibraltar R09: A crushing 27-move game by Aryan Chopra

by Satanick Mukhuty - 30/01/2020

The Gibraltar Masters goes into the final round today with five players leading the field with 7.0/9 points each and there are quite a few Indians who are still vying for a strong finish at the top. Aryan Chopra, Karthikeyan Murali, Adhiban Baskaran, and Praggnanandhaa R are just half a point behind the leaders with 6.5/9 each and have good chances to bag medals for the country. In this article we discuss Aryan Chopra's brilliant 27-move victory against Alexander Donchenko in detail and also bring you the highlights of other important moments from the last round.

Aryan Chopra played some enterprising bit of chess in the penultimate ninth round of the Gibraltar Masters to defeat the strong German Grandmaster Alexander Donchenko with the white pieces. Aryan unhesitatingly chose an extremely complex line against Alexander's Najdorf and boldly sacrificed a pawn on move 13 to blow open the center. By move 20 itself the position turned tactically quite csharp and the German soon ended up losing his way and making successive mistakes. The 19-year-old Indian, who was flawless in his technique, finished things off neatly thereafter in just 27 moves.

Aryan has managed to remain unbeaten so far in the event and with this victory has taken his score to a commendable 6.5/9 | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Aryan Chopra - Alexander Donchenko, Round 9

Aryan made his intentions very clear with the move 9.Nd5 in the opening. Grabbing more space in the center and enticing Black to exchange off his good light-squared bishop, he was clearly out for some blood.

...He was not reluctant to give up a pawn on d5 either just to open up the center. He could have gone for 13.Bxb6 but chose 13.Kb1 instead keeping his bishop pair intact.

And soon all of White's pieces were flowing with activity.

18...e4 was a critical point in the game. Perhaps Black should have continued more solidly with 18...dxc4 instead.

And above was the decisive moment. What would you do here if you were in Black shoes?

Well, the position is already very complicated and apparently the only move that keeps things sort of balanced is 21...Qc7 (see annotations below) because after something like 22.Qf2 Nbd7 23.h5 even though White seems to have an initiative, Black has everything under control. But in the game Alexander started going wrong from here and after 21...Qd7 22.cxd5 Rfd8 23.d6 Rac8 24.Qf2 found himself in grave trouble.

Position after 24.Qf2: Suddenly Aryan had an overwhelming initiative.

And unsurprisingly not long after he was breaking through. The German resigned the game in the above position after only 27 moves. 

Karthikeyan Murali registered a fine victory against the in-form Zhansaya Abdumalik in the ninth round of the event. In this encounter, the Kazakhstani player found a solid position out of the opening with black pieces but the Indian ultimately managed to outplay her in an even rook pawn ending.

Karthikeyan too is on 6.5/9 and has remained unbeaten so far. He faces the strong English GM Michael Adams in the final round | Photo: John Saunders

Karthikeyan Murali - Zhansaya Abdumalik, Round 9

The above position was reached after White's 47th move Kf2. Black's pawn structure optically looks a bit loose but objectively this should be equal. The best continuation here would have been 47...f5 and after 48.Ke3 h3 49.Rf4 there doesn't seem to be a good way for White to make progress. However, in the game Zhansaya misjudged the position and went for counterplay with 47...Rb6 and this was the critical mistake that decided the fate of the game.

Can you see what the Kazakhstani missed when she went Rb6? It is White to play.

Well, 47...Rb6 was simply a loss of tempo as Karthikeyan simply went 48.Ke3 here threatening to push d3-d4. Black had to prevent this and had to retreat with 48...Re6+ but this was already too late. The game followed 49.Kd2 f5 50.Rg3+ Kf6 51.Rg8 Ke5 52.Rc8 Rg6 and White was in charge as c5 was just too weak. Replay the full game below with analysis and check out how the Indian converted the rest of it.

Photo Gallery

S.l.Narayanan has slowed down a bit with five consecutive draws and is now on 6.0/9 | Photo: Niki Ria

Gukesh D and S.L.Narayanan in action against each other in round 9. The encounter ended in a draw after 36 moves | Photo: John Saunders  

Praggnanandhaa R. drew GM Mikhail Kobalia and is on 6.5/9 points | Photo: John Saunders

Raunak Sadhwani scored an emphatic win against Xander Wemmers | Photo: Niki Riga

Divya Deshmukh lost to the Croatian Grandmaster Blazimir Kovacevic | Photo: John Saunders

13-year-old Leon Mendonca has shown tremendous stability at the Gibraltar Masters 2020. Facing 7 opponents above his rating he has scored 5.0/8. But in round 9 he got a walkover as his opponent Vasilios Kotronias failed to show up for the game | Photo: Niki Riga

IM Krishna C.R.G lost to GM Baron Tal | Photo: Niki Riga

Results of ninth round

13GMWang Hao2758½ - ½GMParavyan David262922
213GMMaghsoodloo Parham2674½ - ½GMEsipenko Andrey265416
328GMYilmaz Mustafa260761 - 06GMCheparinov Ivan268611
431GMPraggnanandhaa R26026½ - ½6GMKobalia Mikhail260927
546GMYuffa Daniil25666½ - ½GMAlekseenko Kirill27047
62GMVachier-Lagrave Maxime27701 - 0GMCan Emre260033
74GMTopalov Veselin27381 - 0GMBasso Pier Luigi260032
830GMPichot Alan26060 - 1GMNavara David27175
96GMLe Quang Liem27131 - 0GMSantos Latasa Jaime258639
1040GMKadric Denis25851 - 0GMMatlakov Maxim26989

Standings after nine rounds

Rk.SNoNameFEDRtgClub/CityPts. TB1 
116GMEsipenko AndreyRUS26547,02819
23GMWang HaoCHN27587,02813
313GMMaghsoodloo ParhamIRI26747,02794
422GMParavyan DavidRUS26297,02783
528GMYilmaz MustafaTUR26077,02714
656GMWerle JanNED25456,52758
746GMYuffa DaniilRUS2566ACP Premium 20206,52739
82GMVachier-Lagrave MaximeFRA27706,52720
4GMTopalov VeselinBUL27386,52720
1048GMAryan ChopraIND25626,52712
1127GMKobalia MikhailRUS2609ACP Premium 20206,52687
125GMNavara DavidCZE2717ACP Premium 20206,52676
1310GMAdams MichaelENG26946,52675
146GMLe Quang LiemVIE2713ACP Premium 20206,52674
1529GMKarthikeyan MuraliIND26066,52669
1612GMJones Gawain C BENG2679ACP Premium 20206,52666
15GMAdhiban B.IND2654ACP Premium 20206,52666
1814GMSaric IvanCRO2655ACP Premium 20206,52655
1940GMKadric DenisBIH2585ACP Premium 20196,52635
2031GMPraggnanandhaa RIND26026,52630

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