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2018 rated player gets a winning position in 14 moves against 2692 GM and....

by Sagar Shah - 25/03/2019

This happened in the third round of the Sharjah Masters 2019. Sri Sai Baswanth (2018) hails from Andhra Pradesh. He was up against one of the strongest GMs at the event Maxim Matlakov from Russia (2692). With a rating difference of 674 Elo points very little was expected from Baswanth. He played the London System and with one strong move after another built up a winning position in just 14 moves. Matlakov was completely off colour. It seemed as if this would be the biggest upset of the entire event, when something unusual happened. What exactly? Read on to find out.

The Sharjah Masters 2019 has a rating cut off of 1500 Elo, which means all players above the rating of 1500 can participate in the tournament. With the first prize being $15,000 (roughly Rs.10,37,000) it is an excellent event for the best GMs in the world to come and fight for the money. Thanks to the 1500 Elo rating cut off and high prize money, you can witness pairings with huge rating difference in the initial rounds. This is what happened in the third round. 

Sri Sai Baswanth (2018) from Andhra Pradesh, India, was pitted against GM Maxim Matlakov (2692) from Russia

It's true that Sri Sai Baswanth had the white pieces, but at the same time with a rating difference of 674 Elo points very little was expected of him. One might remember that at the Bhopal GM Open 2018 which took place in December, Baswanth was able to beat the top seed of the tournament Aleksandrov Aleksej (2544) in the first round. However, there is a big difference between Aleksandrov and Matlakov. While there is no doubt that Aleksandrov is a strong GM, he no longer works hard on his chess. He relies upon his superior middlegame and endgame skills to outplay his opponents. Baswanth managed to catch his opponent in the opening and finished off the game with precision. When it comes to Matlakov, he is one of the rising stars of Russian chess. Along with Artemiev and Dubov, he is dubbed as the next big thing from Russian chess. To catch him unprepared in the opening would not be an easy task. But Baswanth managed to do just that! How did he do it? Let's have a look.


Sri Sai Baswanth vs Maxim Matlakov

Baswanth opened the game with 2.Bf4 in th London System

His queen move to b3 was met with ...Qc8 by Matlakov

The move c4 is not in the spirit of the London, but a very plausible move in the position. While there are other moves in the position as well, c4 had the psychological effect of throwing Matlakov off balance

...Bb4 was clearly an error as Baswanth took the bishop on f5 and then the free pawn on d5

It seems Matlakov was banking on this move ...Qd7 to get him out of problems. He simply missed that his opponent could...

0-0-0! White is simply winning now. After ...Qxd5 Baswanth made the right move Nc4! and after Qe6...

White executed another powerful move Bd6! Black's king is stuck in the centre, the bishop on b4 is hanging, the pawn on b7 is soft. It looks like Black's days are numbered.

But after making his move 14.Bd6, Baswanth made the only wrong move of the game - he offered a draw! Matlakov grabbed this opportunity with both his hands. The Russian super GM realized that there was no way in which he could save his position. For Baswanth, a draw against 2692 opponent, is a fantastic result. However, at the same time, if he would have shown a little more courage and played on, he could have very well scored the biggest upset of his chess career and also the Sharjah Masters 2019. Baswanth's decision reminds me of Tartakower's famous quote - "No one ever won a game by resigning!" Just that resigning in this case has to be replaced by "offering a draw".


The London System is a powerful opening which is solid, but at the same time has a lot of scope for creativity. You may want to learn this opening from our best selling "London System with 2.Bf4" by GM Simon Williams.

Simon Williams is an aggressive player. He suggest lines which are active with a good mix of theoretical lines, traps and instructive games. Check out the product in the ChessBase India shop

After three rounds at the Sharjah Masters 2019, we have only five players with a 100% score and one of them is GM Nihal Sarin | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Nihal Sarin vs El Adnani

Black has just played his pawn to b6. How did Nihal respond?

When your opponent's king is in the centre, it makes sense to open up the position, even at the cost of material. Hence, Nihal rightly played the move f4! The point being that after Nxf4 Rxf4 exf4 e5! White is crashing through with his two knights, queen and rook on a1 that will join the game via e1. El Adnani rejected the pawn after f4 but his position was already in a mess.

Nihal opening with game against El Adnani with 1.e4 | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Vignesh held Abhijeet Gupta to a draw. Rated 2476, Vignesh is already gaining 4.8 Elo points in this event. If he can get the remaining 20 Elo, he would be India's latest GM, as he has already scored all his three GM norms | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Venkatesh could not stop GM Le Quang Liem on the top board | Photo: Niklesh Jain

India's highest rated player in the event Surya Sekhar Ganguly was held to a draw by Shahin Lorparizangeneh | Photo: Niklesh Jain

After a draw in the first round, Gukesh is back with two back to back wins and is now on 2.5/3 | Photo: Niklesh Jain

GM Sandipan Chanda is on 2.5/3 | Photo: Niklesh Jain

"Are you going to make another Facebook post on mothers?" Kusum, mother of Aditya Mittal seems to say to the camera! | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Yesterday, ChessBase India published a post on Facebook, which struck a chord with the chess community, especially the mothers:

The beautiful structure of the Sharjah chess club | Photo: Niklesh Jain

An aerial view of the playing hall with the artistic carpet | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Adly Ahmed preparing for his game with Zero to One by Peter Thiel | Photo: Niklesh Jain

In the game Adly was able to get from "zero to one" point by beat talented Indian youngster Leon Mendonca | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Standings after round 3

Complete standings

Overview of performance by Indian players

13GMGanguly Surya Shekhar26332633IND11½2,58100,80
17GMGupta Abhijeet26022602IND11½2,511101,30
19GMNihal Sarin25782578IND1113,05106,40
23GMChanda Sandipan25342534IND11½2,526102,00
24GMDeepan Chakkravarthy J.25342534IND1½½2,04610-3,60
25GMDebashis Das25322532IND11½2,518100,20
26IMGukesh D25292529IND½112,53010-0,20
28GMVishnu Prasanna. V25242524IND11½2,51910-0,30
30GMVenkatesh M.R.25172517IND1102,037100,60
31GMStany G.A.25072507IND11½2,520105,50
35GMHarsha Bharathakoti24972497IND½½12,07710-6,80
36GMKarthik Venkataraman24942494IND1102,038100,00
39IMIniyan P24872487IND11½2,517104,10
42IMVignesh N R24762476IND11½2,516104,80
45IMSadhwani Raunak24552455IND1012,05510-5,00
46CMAditya Mittal24542454IND1102,04110-0,70
47CMMendonca Leon Luke24462446IND1½01,583101,30
50IMShyaamnikhil P24292429IND10½1,58710-3,70
51GMLaxman R.R.24252425IND1012,050101,00
53IMRaja Rithvik R24232423IND1012,051100,60
55IMAkshat Khamparia24152415IND½101,59210-4,90
56GMSundararajan Kidambi24132413IND1½01,581101,90
57IMAkash G24112411IND1012,045100,40
58IMNitin S.24082408IND1½01,578100,90
62Saurabh Anand23852385IND1012,053200,20
63IMDhulipalla Bala Chandra Prasad23842384IND1½½2,0422010,80
67IMRathnakaran K.23612361IND1012,04710-0,10
68IMFenil Shah23602360IND1001,011110-10,80
69FMPranav Anand23592359IND½101,59620-12,20
71IMRaghunandan Kaumandur Srihari23522352IND1½½2,048105,30
72IMSidhant Mohapatra23482348IND1½01,584100,20
73FMShailesh Dravid23162316IND1012,064201,00
74CMBharath Subramaniyam H23012301IND1012,05820-0,20
75Ajay Karthikeyan22982298IND1012,072400,40
76WIMPriyanka Nutakki22972297IND1012,06240-0,80
78IMSharma Dinesh K.22862286IND1½01,585101,60
80IMRavi Thandalam Shanmugam22762276IND½011,510110-10,90
82CMMullick Raahil22752275IND1012,06740-0,40
84WIMDivya Deshmukh22662266IND1012,06840-0,80
86Kunal M.22582258IND11½2,5222023,80
87Pranav V22582258IND1012,07420-1,80
88IMPraveen Kumar C22432243IND11½2,5231011,90
91FMJeet Jain22192219IND0112,061203,40
93Panda Sambit22182218IND01½1,5864019,60
95FMSrihari L R22112211IND0101,010520-2,40
101IMGokhale Chandrashekhar21852185IND0011,012610-8,80
103Gandhi Anish21562156IND0011,013920-17,40
106Jaeel Atharva21452145IND0101,010940-6,40
110Thrish Karthik20962096IND½½01,01044027,20
111Shiva Pavan Teja Sharma U20932093IND0½11,59720-8,00
114WCMMrudul Dehankar20782078IND0101,011640-6,40
115WFMBommini Mounika Akshaya20762076IND½011,5894016,80
116Kumar Gaurav20742074IND0101,011420-4,00
119Shanya Mishra20262026IND0112,0704035,20
121Sri Sai Baswanth P20182018IND½1½2,0492033,20
122CMShahil Dey20072007IND0101,011540-6,00
123WFMSanskriti Goyal20062006IND0011,014040-36,80
124Mohammed Dilshad20062006IND½011,590208,40
125Krithigga K20022002IND0112,0714036,00
126Niklesh Kumar Jain19951995IND0101,011920-3,00
127WIMGokhale Anupama19941994IND0101,011820-2,00
128Parthasarathy R19891989IND0101,012020-3,20
132Anilkumar O.T.19751975IND0101,012120-2,60
133Mota Pankit19741974IND½000,5160203,60
138WCMIsha Sharma19351935IND0101,01342012,80
139Rakshith Srinivasan19231923IND0011,013840-6,00
141Souradip Deb18991899IND0011,014220-2,80
142Gokhale Rishabh Chandrashekhar18951895IND0½½1,01244024,00
144Abid Ali Mujawar18691869IND0011,014920-2,40
145Rohit S18681868IND½011,5994046,80
146WFMMeghna C H18631863IND0011,015020-2,60
147WFMDhyana Patel18481848IND0101,01224028,80
148Jinan Jomon18481848IND0112,0764031,60
150Varsha Ramesh18311831IND0½00,5155408,00
151AIMKaushik G Iyer17711771IND0011,014640-3,60
153AIMSidharth Balaji Sridharan17321732IND0½00,5156409,60
155Devnani Kush16501650IND0101,01254030,40
156Aagam Aditya E16491649IND00½0,51654010,40
157Antony Jesumarian Leslie16211621IND0½00,51544010,40
159Singh Gurmeher15891589IND0000,017040-9,60
162Rebecca Jesumarian15611561IND0000,017240-9,60
167AIMVishal Choudary B15191519IND00½0,51644010,40
168Harikrishnan C15141514IND0000,016740-9,60
169Sharon Rafael14741474IND½000,51614010,40


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