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Can you win the Dubai Open 2019 like P. Iniyan?

by Sagar Shah - 16/04/2019

Winning a tournament like Dubai Open, which has 31 GMs participating in it, is never easy. India's latest GM P. Iniyan performed admirably at the 21st Dubai Open 2019, scoring 7.0/9 and finishing joint first. After the event ended Iniyan sent us some wonderful annotations to his favourite games with insightful comments. So, in this article we put you in the shoes of Iniyan, where you have to find the critical moves that he found during his 7th round game against Mareco Sandro (2651). After you have thought for 25 minutes for the two positions, you can have a look at the solution with notes by the champion. There was more good news for Indians from Dubai as Raghunandan scored his maiden GM norm, while youngster Bharath Subramaniyam achieved his second IM norm. 

"A memorable game for me!" is how P. Iniyan, India's latest GM, likes to describe his seventh round win against GM Sandro Mareco (2651) at the Dubai Open 2019. Mareco is the number one Argentinian player and is known for his active style of play. Iniyan showed consistent chess in the game to score a very important win. We have two moments in the game where we would like you to take a total of 25 minutes (10 + 15 minutes) and to think about what Iniyan played. So let's dive straight into it.


Position 1: Iniyan vs Sandro Mareco

Black has just played his knight to f7. How should White continue? Take 10 minutes on the clock and find out what Iniyan played.

Position 2

Black has just made another queen. This one will require a lot of calculation power from you. How should White continue? You have to find all the variations in 15 minutes!

The solution to these positions is given below. Try to make use of this excellent training material by getting out your chess board and setting up the position and working out the details. Alternatively you can do it from the screen as well. Whatever, it is, do give these two positions a dig. It is only if you try for a few minutes, that you will realize how well Iniyan played in the game.

P. Iniyan joint winner at the Dubai Open 2019

Dubai Open is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world. It is now into its 21st edition. Almost all the best players in the world have played there at some point or the other. In fact young Magnus Carlsen scored his final GM norm at the Dubai Open in 2004. A good prize fund, excellent playing conditions and a rich tradition of organizing high class events ensures that Dubai Open is always frequented by World Class GMs. At the 2019 edition, we had 31 grandmasters with 12 of them being above 2600. P. Iniyan with a rating of 2512 started as the 28th seed.

Being the 28th seed, Iniyan was not the favourite to win the title | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Iniyan started the tournament with a walkover, not really something you would like when the tiebreak is Buchholz score (sum of opponent's points). In the second round Iniyan had a bigger upset when he lost to the talented 12-year-old Bharath Subramaniyam. But the 'never say die spirit' is inbuilt in Iniyan. He started playing as if it was a new event and beat threat lower rated opponents Thrist Karthik (2096), Sergey Naboka (2327) and Pranav V (2258). With 4.0/5, he was back in the race for the title. Next Iniyan drew his game against Ahmed Adly (2620) and in the seventh round scored a big win against GM Sandro Mareco (2651). There was a pack of 4 players with 6.0/7 and Iniyan was chasing them with 5.5/7. In the eighth round he drew against Emre Can. Going into the final round with 6.0/8, Iniyan faced a tough challenge. He was up against S.P. Sethuraman, one of India's top grandmasters. The game was extremely complicated and at some point Black (Iniyan) had two queens on the board and another pawn about queen! From a lost middlegame Iniyan had fought back and used Sethu's lack of objectivity to score one of the most fighting victories of his chess career. Here's the game with annotations by Iniyan himself.

The final position does deserve a diagram!

A rating gain of 13 Elo points and a performance of 2628 helped Iniyan gain the top spot with 7.0/9

Iniyan went back home with US$ 1,700 (Rs.1,18,000) | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Final ranking after nine rounds

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4  TB5 Krtg+/-
12GMMatlakov MaximRUS26927,00,050,043,054106,4
215GMAbdusattorov NodirbekUZB25787,00,049,042,0541014,3
31GMLe Quang LiemVIE27117,00,048,041,055100,7
43GMKuzubov YuriyUKR26537,00,048,041,054108,5
55GMIturrizaga Bonelli EduardoVEN26337,00,047,540,5541011,0
627GMSanal VahapTUR25137,00,047,040,0651015,8
714GMIndjic AleksandarSRB25927,00,045,038,0551013,5
828IMIniyan PIND25127,00,042,536,0641013,7
99GMAdly AhmedEGY26206,50,047,040,06410-3,1
1011GMMchedlishvili MikheilGEO26106,50,047,040,04410-1,1
1120GMDeepan Chakkravarthy J.IND25346,50,045,538,5641014,2
1213GMCan EmreTUR25996,50,044,037,55410-1,0
1312GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr.IND26026,50,043,036,55510-4,2
1419GMDebashis DasIND25386,50,043,036,044108,2
1536IMVignesh N RIND24576,50,041,034,544104,8
1656IMRaghunandan Kaumandur SrihariIND23706,00,050,043,0541029,7
1710GMTabatabaei M.AminIRI26126,00,046,539,54410-4,6
184GMMareco SandroARG26516,00,045,038,55510-9,8
1931GMSindarov JavokhirUZB24956,00,045,038,064105,3
2033IMNguyen Anh KhoiVIE24816,00,044,037,554104,3

Complete list

Iniyan's 8th place finish, more than anything else, shows his fighting spirit. He doesn't get bogged down by the Elo rating of his opponent and goes for a full-blooded fight against just about anyone. A joint-first place finish in the first tournament after becoming a GM is a great beginning. We can surely expect a lot of fireworks from this 17-year-old talent in the years to come.


Position 1 (10 minutes)

White to play

The most important thing to notice here is that Black has not completed his development. The knight on b8 and the rook on a8 still need some time to get into the game. That is the reason why it is important to strike NOW! And Iniyan did that with 18.e4! While this is a logical move, what is important for you as a practical player to see is - after dxe4, you go for Nxf6+! gxf6 fxe4.

And Iniyan quite simply mentions in his notes - "White's attack plays by itself!" This is the sign of an excellent intuitive player.

Position 2 (15 minutes)

White to play

The right move here was 33.Nh6+!! White could begin with Qe8+ but then Black would simply block with Qf8. With 33.Nh6+ White opens up the g3 square for the rook to come into the game. Still the variations are not trivial. Firstly after gxh6 Qe8+ you have to look at two move Qf8 and Rxe8. I personally think the variation starting after Qf8 Rg3+ Ng5 is not so easy to calculate. Here you need to dig deep and find f7+! Kg7 and Qe5+! The variation goes on and the black king is trying to run, but if you are well concentrated then you can surely find the right idea of checking on f5, followed Rxg5 and Qxh7+. Check the game below for a detailed analysis of these variations. In the game after Nh6+ gxh6 Qe8+ Black took the queen with Rxe8 and after Rxe8+ Qf8 Rxf8+ Kxf8 Rxd1, White was an exchange up and went on to win the game. These lines are not so easy to see, especially in a high pressure game. Credit to Iniyan for finding them.

The other big news of the event was Raghunandan KS scoring his maiden GM norm. We will be dedicating an entire article to this achievement very soon with Raghunandan's analysis and comments from his best game of the event. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Born in 2007, Bharath is just 12 years old. He scored his 2nd IM norm at the Dubai Open 2019. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

And look at this! Bharath scored his IM norm with three rounds to spare! He lost all his last three rounds and yet made his IM norm. He beat three GMs in the tournament Iniyan, Darini Pouria and Santos Ruiz Miguel. Watch out for an article on this youngster on our newspage very soon!

Maxim Matlakov won the 21st Dubai Open 2019 with 7.0/9 | Photo: Niklesh Jain
Interview with the champion after the event

14-year-old prodigy Abdusattorov Nodirbek won the second place | Photo: Niklesh Jain
Interview with the Uzbek talent after the tournament

All the prize winners captured in one frame | Photo: Niklesh Jain

After Iniyan, Deepan was the highest finishing Indian. He stood 11th gaining 14 Elo points | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Aravindh Chithambaram finished 13th with 6.5/9 | Photo: Niklesh Jain
Don't miss Aravindh's fine blitz skills at the Dubai blitz captured in the above video

Debashis Das gained 8 Elo points. His rating now moves to 2546 and he finished 14th | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Vignesh NR gained 4 Elo points and took home the 15th spot | Photo: Niklesh Jain

ChessBase India Power Group Tour

This was our second ChessBase India group tour after the one we made to Barcelona in 2018. We had five players from all parts of India who went with Niklesh Jain, the group tour manager and his wife WIM Angela Franco. We will be publishing a detailed article on this initiative, but for now we leave you with a couple of pictures and the performance of the players.

A total of 171.8 Elo points gained in the tour

The entire group of seven having their last meal together in Dubai | Photo: Niklesh Jain

From left to right: Kaushik Iyer, Rakshith Srinivasan, Souradip Deb, Niklesh Jain (manager), Sanskriti Goyal and Mrudul Dehankar | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Our next Group Tour is to the Catalan Circuit 2019 from 23rd of June to 11th of August. You can find all the details in this article.

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