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Gibraltar 2018: Four Indians with a chance of a GM norm

by Sagar Shah - 30/01/2018

Seven rounds have been completed at the Gibraltar Masters 2018. Although no Indian is in the top ten rankings right now, this tournament is interesting from the point of view that many of the youngsters have a chance to achieve their GM norms. The ones who have the best chance are (numbers in the bracket are their rating performance) Prithu Gupta (2639), Hemant Sharma (2581), Praggnanandhaa (2570) and Raunak Sadhwani (2532). It is interesting to note that two out of the above four names (Raunak and Pragg) have yet to hit their teens! Detailed report from one of the strongest open tournaments in the world.

The general level of chess is improving!

Levon Aronian after his win with Shardul Gagare said, "The general level of chess is improving. Earlier it was fun playing against the 2600 guys. Not so much anymore!" The general level of play has improved tremendously. Just because you have a huge rating advantage over your opponent is no guarantee that you will win your games. One breed of opposition that is extremely dangerous these days is - "The Indian youngsters"! They work incessantly on chess, sometimes even to the degree that they give up everything else in life. It's not that someone forces them, they do it out of their own volition. They truly love chess and hence the chances of them improving at the game are much higher!


At the Gibraltar Masters top Indian grandmasters have not been doing especially great. None of them is currently in the top 10 rankings. However, the biggest takeaway for our players is the youngsters getting to rub shoulders with the best in the world.

Prithu Gupta, the boy from Delhi, has played some phenomenal bit of chess in the tournament and is currently unbeaten after seven rounds with a rating performance of 2638

Draws against Le Quang Liem, Iturrizaga, Muzychuk, Svane and Rasmus is amazing! Not to forget his win over Fabien Libiszewski!

It seems like Delhi lads are having great fun at this event. The next player who is has great chances of a GM norm after Prithu is Hemant Sharma

Just look at the top two names in that list! Little would have Hemant imagined that he would get to play Hari and Aronian!

Here's his nice win against Marin Bosiocic where Hemant played carefully in the opening, and once he got his opportunity was all over his opponent:

Good news for Indian fans - R. Praggnanandhaa has a chance to achieve his second GM norm at the Gibraltar Masters 2018.

Pragg wasn't doing so great apart from his draw against Nigel Short until round 6. But in the seventh round he was able to beat the strong Indian GM G.N. Gopal

12-year-old Raunak Sadhwani has been showing some fantastic chess at the event

Draws against Akobian, Goryachkina, Nihal Sarin and Khotenashvili. These are some big names in the chess world. Raunak also beat Spanish IM Almagro. Here's his draw against Nihal:

Sandipan scored one of the most unusual victories of his chess career against Vassily Ivanchuk

We call his game unusual because he made a clear error out of the opening and was worse. But then Ivanchuk returned the favour. The game lasted only 23 moves, but had a lot of action.

We will have to ask Sandipan as to what was he thinking when he took the pawn on a4 with his knight Rxa4, Bb5+ Bd7 was two pieces for a rook for Black. There was definitely some deep thought put into this by the Indian GM, but the computers seem to give Black a clear advantage.

Now, this position is worthy of entering any defensive manual book. White has just recaptured the bishop on f1, how should Black continue? What is his only way to play for a draw?

Abhijeet Gupta is currently the highest ranked Indian. He has scored 5.0/7 with draws against strong opposition - MVL and Navara
Abhijeet Gupta on how he surprised MVL out of the opening

Harikrishna was doing very well until round six with 4.5/6, but lost to Grigory Oparin in the seventh round

In spite of losing his last two rounds to Aronian and Akobian, Shardul still has a 2600+ performance. That's because he had defeated Vitiugov and Romain.
Shardul Gagare after his loss to Levon Aronian

Tejaswini Sagar is proving herself by a solid 3.0/7 with a 2348 performance and +40 Elo gain

Hikaru Nakamura is currently leading the tournament with 6.0/7 along with...

David Howell.

India's Tania Sachdev has been doing phenomenal job interviewing all the players at the event. You must check out her work on the Tradewise Gibraltar Youtube Channel.

The battle of sexes was a big hit, with the male team led by Nigel Short winning against the female team! Here's the full show:
The full battle of sexes show!

Isn't the view spectacular?

For many chess players visiting Gibraltar is something like a dream! I am sure we will see many more Indians at the rock in 2019!

Performance of Indian players

5GMHarikrishna P.2745IND½½111½04,550Masters
25GMSethuraman S.P.2646IND11½½0115,024Masters
31GMGupta Abhijeet2610IND1½½11½½5,014Masters
37GMGopal G.N.2593IND½1½1½½04,096Masters
42GMSandipan Chanda2579IND½½111105,027Masters
45GMNarayanan S. L.2573IND11½½1015,026Masters
63GMLalith Babu M R2542IND11½½0½14,543Masters
68GMSwapnil S. Dhopade2533IND11½0½1½4,559Masters
71IMNihal Sarin2524IND1½½0½114,573Masters
74IMPraggnanandhaa R2515IND1½½½½115,032Masters
81GMDebashis Das2501IND11½½½½½4,534Masters
82GMGagare Shardul2494IND11½½1004,077Masters
102IMPrasanna Raghuram Rao2458IND10110½½4,094Masters
108GMVenkatesh M.R.2445IND11½½½014,541Masters
114IMSwayams Mishra2432IND1½10½0½3,5123Masters
119IMRaja Harshit2427IND½1½0½103,5154Masters
136IMMohammad Nubairshah Shaikh2380IND1½½½10½4,087Masters
139FMPrithu Gupta2373IND½½11½½½4,535Masters
149IMHemant Sharma (Del)2348IND½011½½½4,079Masters
159IMPadmini Rout2325IND010110½3,5128Masters
162FMSadhwani Raunak2321IND½01½½½14,082Masters
176IMMohota Nisha2269IND½01½0114,0100Masters
186WIMNandhidhaa Pv2238IND01½01013,5162Masters
228WFMCholleti Sahajasri2083IND00110103,0187Masters
230WIMTejaswini Sagar2081IND½½½100½3,0174Masters
247WIMGagare Shalmali2001IND½0001½02,0241Masters
254CMDev Shah1977IND½0000101,5262Masters
268Mayank Pal1834IND½000½½½2,0252Masters

Check complete results of Indians here

Ranking after round 7

Rk.SNoNameFEDRtgPts. TB1 
13GMNakamura HikaruUSA27816,02891
216GMHowell David W LENG26826,02876
338GMAntipov Mikhail Al.RUS25885,52814
42GMVachier-Lagrave MaximeFRA27935,52758
547GMMoussard JulesFRA25715,52748
610GMWang HaoCHN27115,52737
71GMAronian LevonARM27975,52730
812GMRapport RichardHUN27005,52722
933GMOparin GrigoriyRUS26075,52715
1015GMDubov DaniilRUS26945,52654
1130GMGledura BenjaminHUN26125,02782
129GMDuda Jan-KrzysztofPOL27245,02713
1324GMGrandelius NilsSWE26475,02699
1431GMGupta AbhijeetIND26105,02684
1511GMAdams MichaelENG27095,02670
1619GMSutovsky EmilISR26735,02660
174GMNavara DavidCZE27495,02658
7GMVitiugov NikitaRUS27325,02658
198GMIvanchuk VassilyUKR27265,02654
49FMEsipenko AndreyRUS25715,02654

Previous report:

Indians have a ball!

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