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Chess Gurukul domination in London!

by Sagar Shah - 04/12/2019

The London Chess Classic FIDE Open 2019 is being dominated by two Indians R. Praggnanandhaa and Aravindh Chithambaram. Both of them hail from Chennai and go to the Chess Gurukul academy of GM R.B. Ramesh. It is quite heartening to see that both the youngsters have performed above an Elo of 2750 and gained close to 10 Elo points. While this takes Aravindh to 2615, Pragg is inching close to breaking the 2600 Elo mark and is currently 2596. The other two Indian top performers Sahaj Grover and R. Vaishali are also playing well with 4.5/6. With three rounds to go, it will be interesting to see if Pragg or Aravindh can win the title. Currently they are in the joint lead on 5.5/6 along with Anton Smirnov.

After six rounds of the London Chess Classic FIDE Open 2019, we have three leaders with a score of 5.5/6. Out of these three players, two of them are from India. And both of them are from Chess Gurukul in Chennai.

Aravindh Chithambaram (2605) and Praggnanandhaa (2586) lead at the London Chess Classic FIDE Open 2019 with 5.5/6 | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The third leader is Australian prodigy Anton Smirnov | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Standings after round 6

Rk.SNo NameTypsexRtgClub/CityPts.
GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr2605Gurukul5,5
GMPraggnanandhaa RU182586None5,5
GMSmirnov AntonU182573None5,5
GMMoussard Jules2600Asnières5,0
IMSong Raymond2468None5,0
GMFlear Glenn C2463Aix-En-Provence5,0
GMMaze Sebastien2541None4,5
GMGrover Sahaj2508Port Elizabeth4,5
GMGordon Stephen J25053cs4,5
IMPetrov Martin2497Maritza-Iztok Radnevo4,5
GMGormally Daniel W24914ncl Blackthorne Russia4,5
GMArkell Keith C2445Cheddleton 4ncl4,5
GMHebden Mark L24364ncl Guildford4,5
IMPert Richard G2436Brentwood4,5
IMKirk Ezra G24334ncl Cheddleton4,5
IMMerry Alan B2426Barbican4,5

Aravindh, with a rating of 2605, is the top seed of the event. He drew his round four game against Martin Petrov. But apart from that he has been excellent form, beating all his strong opponents. In rounds five and six he got the better of two experienced English GMs Mark Hebden and Stephen Gordon.


Stephen Gordon vs Aravindh Chithambaram

Kb2 by Stephen was a mistake. Aravindh now has a nice tactic at his disposal. Can you find it?

Aravindh played Bxe4! The point of it is after Rxd4 Qxd4 fxe4 Black has Qd2+ Kb1 Qxc3.

In the resulting position Black is just better because his king is much safer than White's king. Sure enough, Aravindh managed to mate White's king in the next few moves.

Aravindh has a rating performance of 2750+ at the event! In round seven he takes on Anton Smirnov. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

R. Praggnanandhaa won his sixth round against Martin Petrov | Photo: Lennart Ootes

After a 4.0/4 start Pragg drew his round five game against Anton Smirnov. The Indian youngster would definitely not be happy with his game as he couldn't pose any problems to his opponent from the white side of the Petroff. The game ended in a 17-move draw. In round six Pragg was looking for the full point. In spite of the position being very drawish, he didn't agree to a draw. Pragg kept fighting hard and was soon rewarded with a full point.

Martin Petrov vs Praggnanandhaa, Round 6

At this point the position is dead equal and no one would have blamed the players if they would have agreed to a draw! But Praggnanandhaa wanted to fight for more and he kept manoruvring his pieces. Very soon his opponent went wrong.

White's pawn push c4-c5 was incorrect and after a point the pawn became a big weakness. All that Black did was block it nicely, and then mounted an attack with his rook and knight! The pawn was won and so was the game!

With 5.5/6, Pragg's performance is 2755 and his live rating is now 2596!

The nice thing for Indian fans is that both Pragg and Aravindh are not paired with each other in round 7. This means that both of them have a chance to move to 6.5/7.

Pairings for round 7

Bo.No. NameRtgPts. ResultPts. NameRtg No.
11GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr 2605 GMSmirnov Anton 25734
23GMPraggnanandhaa R 2586 5 GMMoussard Jules 26002
312GMFlear Glenn C 24635 5 IMSong Raymond 246811
45GMMaze Sebastien 2541 IMPercivaldi Martin 238424
516IMPert Richard G 2436 GMGrover Sahaj 25087
617IMKirk Ezra G 2433 GMGordon Stephen J 25058
720IMMerry Alan B 2426 IMPetrov Martin 24979
810GMGormally Daniel W 2491 IMBates Richard A 234228
921FMGschnitzer Adrian 2422 GMArkell Keith C 244513
1025WGMVaishali R 2376 GMHebden Mark L 243615

Youngest 2600 player in the world:

John Burke, a player from US, achieved this feat when he was 14 years and 2 months. However John's k-factor was 40 and he junped from an Elo of 2258 to 2603 in two months. Wei Yi had the record of the youngest 2600 in the world prior to Burke. Wei Yi had achieved it at the age of 14 years, 4 months and 30 days. If Pragg does it today, he would have achieved it at the age of 14 years 3 months and 25 days! It would be a tremendous feat! 

Pragg has the chance to become one of the youngest players to reach 2600 Elo | Photo: Lennart Ootes

GM Sahaj Grover started with three wins, but has slowed down a bit with three draws. He is currently on 4.5/6. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Vaishali drew her round six game against GM Keith Arkell and has made a good comeback with 4.5/6 after losing her first round | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Do you agree with Anish Giri? | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Chess is not easy! | Photo: Lennart Ootes