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Vishnu Prasanna becomes the best Indian performer in Riga chess gala!

by Satanick Mukhuty - 20/08/2019

The ninth edition of Riga Technical University International Chess Festival was held from 3rd to 11th of August in Riga, Latvia. The Grandmaster Open of the event saw a total of 275 players participating from about 40 different countries. India was the second most represented country in the tournament (second only to Latvia!) with as many as 31 players competing. Among them Gopal G.N. was the highest rated followed by an array of several other strong Grandmasters including Lalith Babu M R, Abhimanyu Puranik, Deepan Chakkravarthy, and Gukesh D. After nine rounds Latvia's number one Igor Kovalenko and Šarūnas Šulskis of Lithuania were tied with 7.5/9 points but based on a better tie-break score the former was declared as the champion. Among Indians, the best performer was Vishnu Prasanna V. who finished fifth just half a point behind the leaders scoring 7.0/9

In the Riga Technical University Open a total of twelve events were organized this year, which included six chess tournaments in slow time controls, rapid and blitz, a bridge contest, and two tournaments on Bughouse Chess and Dice Chess. The festival, which was first held in 2011, is traditionally known to invite chess players of all strengths and has something for everyone, from very top Grandmasters to amateurs. Following was the schedule of events this year:

Image source:

A happy surprise in the opening blitz tournament!

The chess festival kick-started on 3rd of August with an eleven-round blitz event following a time control of three minutes plus two seconds increment from move one. The top seed was the best Latvian player Igor Kovalenko followed by German Grandmaster Rasmus Svane but the event was in for a shocker as Indians displayed sheer dominance by securing all of the top places! Shardul Gagare, who started as the twentieth seed, was surprisingly the one who dominated the field with an astounding 10.0/11 points. Shardul remained unbeaten and won eight games in a row to begin with. He defeated strong opponents like Gopal, Lalith, Kantans, Deepan, Nevednichy and others, thus achieving a performance rating of 2752 and gaining a whopping 92 Elo points. 

India's 42nd GM Shardul Gagare is back on the board after a break of nearly two years. According to him, he was working on broadening his opening repertoire. Well, now certainly is the time to reap the fruits of labour! | Photo: Riga Technical University Chess Open Facebook page

An overview of Shardul's phenomenal performance.

India's domination in the blitz event however didn't end with Shardul's performance alone. The first seven places were all clinched by Indians and GM Deepan Chakkravarthy became tenth!

Top ten in Blitz Open

Rk.SNo NameTypsexFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 Krtg+/-
120GMGagare ShardulIND239610,068,583,527522092,4
28GMGopal G.N.IND25389,064,579,525852021,2
329GMGukesh DU14IND22999,061,074,525022060,6
43GMLalith Babu M RIND25588,566,082,0251520-0,6
514GMStany G.A.IND24578,563,077,025482036,6
619GMPuranik AbhimanyuU20IND24218,561,076,524872030,4
712GMVishnu Prasanna. VIND24628,559,070,525212026,2
82GMSvane RasmusGER26208,068,583,5249120-17,2
917FMGalchenko MatveyU20RUS24448,067,082,024902022,6
109GMDeepan Chakkravarthy J.IND25038,065,580,02470201,0

To secure as many as eight places in the top ten is the very definition of domination! Notice the gains in Elo points of the players. Stany G.A. acquired 36.6 Elo points, while Gukesh D an immense 60.6!

Vishnu secures a commendable fifth place in the main event

The Tournament A - Grandmaster Open was the main attraction of the festival. This was a nine-round swiss event following a time control of 90 minutes to each player for the entire game with 30 seconds increment for each move starting from move one. A total of 15,100 Euro was disbursed as prize fund with 2,500 Euro for the first place. Several Indians performed well in the event. Particularly it was Abhimanyu Puranik and Gopal GN who stayed at the heels of the leader Igor Kovalenko throughout the tournament but both of them suffered defeats in the last round to be ousted from top five. Vishnu Prasanna V. instead kept up a consistent performance to secure the fifth place with an impressive score of 7.0/9. Speaking to ChessBase India Vishnu said, "I was very happy to do well in this event and get back to decent playing form. I was happy with my decision making and general state of mind with the exception of my game against Igor Kovalenko. I needed a bit of luck in my last round game to finish well and am happy that I got it". 

Vishnu suffered a loss early on against Igor Kovalenko in round four but recovered well to climb up the leaderboard, winning his last round game against compatriot Lalith Babu M R | Photo: Niklesh Jain / ChessBase India

His favourite game from the event was against the strong but underrated International Master Akash G, this he shares with us with detailed annotations:

Winning the last two rounds was certainly crucial for a strong finish. Vishnu faced the most critical test in the penultimate round itself against Pavlo Kruglyakov of Ukraine where he actually spoiled a large advantage to enter into a drawish ending. But he had one last trick up his sleeve that saved the day!


Vishnu Prasanna V. - Pavlo Kruglyakov, Round 8

White has just played the move 48.Rd6+, what would you do here as Black? Beware, here in lies Vishnu's final trick!

In the final round a bit of luck favoured Vishnu. He was up against compatriot GM Lalith Babu M R and was slightly worse throughout the game but the latter slowly lost his initiative and finally ended up committing an insipid blunder.


Lalith Babu M R - Vishnu Prasanna V., Round 9

Black has just played 46...Qa1+, how should White react?

47.Nf1 Qxa2 would probably have left equal chances for both sides but Lalith played 47.Kh2?? which, unfortunately for him, fell prey to a horrible trap, can you see what? Well, Vishnu played the move 47...Ne5! here which made his opponent resign almost immediately!

White resigned after 47...Ne5

The point is, in the above position Black is threatening Ng4+ followed by Qg1 after which Qh2# would be unstoppable. There's no good way in which White can parry this threat, 48.Qf1 for instance runs into 48...Ng4+ 49.Kh3/g1 Re1 after which White must give up his queen to prevent mate!

A well-deserved fifth place for Vishnu | Photo:

Photo Gallery

The sumptuous international exhibition centre Kipsala, the largest specialized exhibition venue in the Baltics, was once again the venue of the event | Photo:

It looks really spacious here! | Photo:

IM Tania Sachdev was the highest rated Indian female in the event | Photo:

IM Akash G in action against GM Nikita Meshkovs in round four | Photo:

Deepan Chakkravarthy plays Igor Kovalenko as compatriot Lalith Babu M R comes to have a look | Photo:

Abhimanyu Puranik played well in the event but unfortunately lost in the last round to fall out of top five. He became seventh with 6.5/9 points | Photo:

Gopal G.N. too failed to capitalize in the end after starting well. He scored 6.0/9 points | Photo:

Deepan Chakravarthy was placed thirteenth with 6.5/9 points | photo:

Gukesh D was super-solid in the event and scored an unbeaten 6.5/9 | Photo:

Varshini V performed exceptionally well to finish with 5.5/9. She defeated a number of higher-rated IMs and drew the Bulgarian GM Grigor Grigorov in round three of the event to gain a massive 79.6 Elo points. With this she made an IM norm and completed all her WGM requirements to become the latest Woman Grandmaster of India | Photo:

Here's an overview of Varshini's performance

The podium finishers: (From left) Arman Mikaelyan, Igor Kovalenko, and Šarūnas Šulskis | Photo:

Final standings of the event

Rk.SNo NameTypsexFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 Krtg+/-
GMKovalenko IgorLAT26547,542,053,027561011,1
GMSulskis SarunasLTU25197,538,549,027011019,7
GMMikaelyan ArmanARM24547,038,549,026651024,5
IMThybo Jesper SondergaardDEN25287,038,548,526461013,3
GMVishnu Prasanna. VIND25077,037,549,526191012,7
GMTari AryanNOR26347,037,548,0254810-3,7
GMPuranik AbhimanyuIND25506,545,056,526401011,8
GMGajewski GrzegorzPOL26136,542,550,52493102,8
GMDastan Muhammed BatuhanTUR25826,541,552,52580100,9
GMMeshkovs NikitaLAT25416,540,050,52586106,0
IMLobanov SergeiU18RUS24956,540,050,52561108,9
GMMichalik PeterCZE25736,539,550,52581101,8
GMDeepan Chakkravarthy J.IND25316,538,549,52594108,3
IMPultinevicius PauliusU18LTU24856,538,548,026221018,1
IMZanan EvgenyISR24866,537,548,02532107,2
GMGrigorov GrigorBUL25016,537,548,02510103,3
GMSalomon JohanNOR24996,537,047,52550107,7
GMGukesh DU14IND25286,537,047,02558104,3
IMIoannidis EvgeniosU18GRE23676,537,046,525531022,7
GMSmirin IliaISR26056,536,546,5253010-6,3
IMStremavicius TitasLTU24906,536,046,52524105,5
GMGopal G.N.IND25946,044,056,0258610-0,1
GMAbasov NijatAZE26406,041,052,0255810-8,1
GMHovhannisyan RobertARM26506,041,051,5253110-11,4
IMLaurusas TomasLTU25016,040,050,02544106,0
IMHaria RaviENG24306,039,551,525481014,5
GMLalith Babu M RIND25746,039,549,5250110-6,8
GMNevednichy VladislavROU25166,039,050,02559105,9
IMTheodorou NikolasGRE25486,039,050,0252910-1,7
IMBaskin RobertGER23986,039,050,025281016,1

Complete standings

An overview of all performances by Indian players

9GMGopal G.N.2594IND111½½1½½06,02210-0,10Tournament A
12GMLalith Babu M R2574IND10111½½106,02710-6,80Tournament A
15GMPuranik Abhimanyu2550IND1111½½½106,571011,80Tournament A
19GMDeepan Chakkravarthy J.2531IND11½11½0½16,513108,30Tournament A
21GMGukesh D2528IND11½½1½½1½6,518104,30Tournament A
23GMStany G.A.2525IND½1½10½1105,56510-14,10Tournament A
26GMVishnu Prasanna. V2507IND1110½1½117,051012,70Tournament A
33GMGagare Shardul2486IND1½0½000002,026510-12,10Tournament A
42IMMohammad Nubairshah Shaikh2442IND11½01½0½15,562100,50Tournament A
62IMTania Sachdev2400IND1½101½1005,07710-1,80Tournament A
65IMAkash G2394IND11½0101½½5,551106,60Tournament A
96WIMRakshitta Ravi2322IND10101½10½5,010720-11,60Tournament A
110IMSharma Dinesh K.2299IND1½½½½½0½½4,5124105,50Tournament A
119Manish Anto Cristiano F2272IND110½0111½6,03640102,40Tournament A
120Raahul V S2270IND10½½½1½½½5,010820-4,00Tournament A
125FMJeet Jain2261IND½1½½½½01½5,01022011,40Tournament A
134FMShailesh Dravid2246IND1½1½½1½½05,5472053,00Tournament A
140WIMRaghavi N.2234IND00½11½½003,521720-44,40Tournament A
144Mohite Ranveer2229IND0101101015,0832025,00Tournament A
178WFMHarshini A2149IND0½½1½01½½4,5141402,00Tournament A
186WIMGagare Shalmali2134IND01½00½1½14,5150200,40Tournament A
188WIMVarshini V2128IND11½0½011½5,5552079,60Tournament A
206FMTiwari Ashwani2089IND00½0101½½3,523120-34,60Tournament A
222Goswami Vedant2046IND00110½½½14,51522027,80Tournament A
224Nair Sanjeev2045IND0101001½03,52072024,00Tournament A
241Mota Pankit2002IND00100101½3,5229205,80Tournament A
247WFMMakhija Aashna1963IND01½0100114,514640108,00Tournament A
264Srimathi R1848IND1½00½0½½14,01834079,20Tournament A
267WFMDhyana Patel1814IND0½0½001½13,52274028,00Tournament A
272Patel Palak1743IND½000001113,52242041,00Tournament A
273Muthu P1665IND00010001½2,5262407,20Tournament A