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Black Magic by Praggnanandhaa to beat Nino Batsiashvili

by Sagar Shah - 17/12/2019

Sunway Sitges International 2019 is witnessing Indian domination. After four rounds, three out of the five leaders are Indians. Praggnanandhaa, Sethuraman and S.L. Narayanan. All three of them are on 4.0/4. Narayanan and Praggnanandhaa both registered emphatic victories in the fourth round with the former sacrificing a piece leading to a powerful attack, and the latter showing some dark squared wizardry. Pragg's play was very impressive and all the King's Indian players should definitely make a note of his strategy. The youngster has now reached a Live Elo of 2612. Sethuraman was slightly fortunate as his opponent misplayed a superior position to give the Indian a full point. A detailed report with key game analysis and pictures by Lennart Ootes.

From 16 leaders on a perfect score after round three, we are now down to just five. The good news for Indian fans is that out of four players who were on 3.0/3, three have managed to move to 4.0/4 - Praggnanandhaa, Sethuraman and S.L. Narayanan.

Praggnanandhaa's victory showed that there are many ways for Black to play in the King's Indian. With this win, the youngster has moved to 2612. He and Nihal Sarin now have the same live rating! | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Praggnanandhaa was up against Nino Batsiashvili with the black pieces. Playing in open events makes it necessary to fight for a win with both colours white and black. Hence, Pragg has decided to start using the King's Indian Defence in his repertoire. A fighting opening which can often land you in positionally suspect situations, but at the same time gives you chances to fight for a win no matter what.

Batsiashvili is one of the top Georgian female players. In 2015, Batsiashvili had also drawn with Magnus Carlsen in round one of the Qatar Masters Open. | Photo: Oskar Stöber

Batsiashvili vs Praggnanandhaa

Directly playing ...e5 before 0-0 is not a very popular idea because White can take on e5 and then take on d8, which would mean Black would not be able to castle. However, Pragg feels that when his opponent has played the h3 line, this would be justified, as the move h3 is not so useful in that queenless position.

Pragg's concept was very interesting. He moved his knight away from f6 and played ...Bf6. He wants to exchange the dark squared bishops and make use of the dark squared weaknesses in White's camp. It was not easy for White to stop this because Qd2 is met with h6 and the bishop makes its way to g5 in any case.

This is what you call dark square domination!

Once Black had everything sorted in the position, Pragg went for ...h5 and White's structure simply fell apart.

Sethuraman took on Hannes Stefansson from Iceland  | Photo:  | Photo: Oskar Stöber

Sethuraman was in a fighting mood and went for the Dutch Defence with black.


Stefansson vs Sethuraman. Round 4

Things have gone wrong for Black on many levels and White is just better. However, Stefansson didn't play well from this point onwards and Sethu managed to spin up an attack against White's king!

Black now has a winning move here. Can you spot it?

Sethuraman found the winning move ...Rg4+! After Bxg4 Qxg4, the h3 rook fell and Black ended with an extra piece!

Will this be Sethuraman's tournament? | Photo: Lennart Ootes

S.L. Narayanan gave his opponent Lev Yankelevich absolutely no chances in the game  | Photo;  | Photo: Oskar Stöber

Narayanan SL vs Lev Yankelevich, Round 4

After going wrong in the opening, Black is already struggling. In order to prevent a piece from landing on g5, Black played the move h6. However, Narayanan was ready with the blow beginning with Bxh6! This was a powerful long term sacrifice.

The black king is exposed and the white pieces are perfectly placed. White has many attacking ideas in the position and Narayanan managed to win this game without too many difficulties.

It is proving to be difficult to stop this lad in Spain! S.L. Narayanan now has a live rating of 2645! | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Gukesh played a very nice game with the white pieces in the King's Indian Attack and is now on 3.5/4 | Photo: Lennart Ootes

GM Srinath Narayanan drew his game against Alexander Donchenko and is on 3.5/4 | Photo: Shahid Ahmed

Former World Junior silver medalist Abhimanyu Puranik is also on 3.5/4 | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Arjun Erigaisi won a drawn endgame in round 4 and moved to 3.5/4

Harshit who has been playing exceedingly well at the event, having beat Maghsoodloo in round 2, lost a rook endgame that should have been held. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Harshit Raja vs Arjun Erigaisi, Round 4

White has two moves that hold here. What are they?

Black's threat is that after the white rook moves, he would like to play his king to c1, and then push his pawn to c3-c2 when he would be winning. Hence, it is important to prevent this idea. The right way to do it is either with Rh1! which stops Kc1 or Rh3 which stops the pawn from coming to c3. In both cases it would be a draw, but Harshit played Rh4 which after Kc1 Ka3 and now we reached another position where Rd3+ would have won, but instead Arjun erred with c3. White could now have drawn with Kb3, but Harshit made a mistake with Rh1+ After Rd1 it was all over. So many mistakes in a small sequence of moves, but it shows how difficult it is to play accurately with such less time.

Standings after round 4

Rk.SNo NameTypsexGrFEDRtgIRtgNClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
110GMSethuraman S.P.IND263804,09,0011,0
23GMKorobov AntonUKR266804,08,0010,0
335GMLi DiHCHN254304,08,009,0
524GMPraggnanandhaa RH16IND258604,07,508,5
611GMTabatabaei M.AminIRI263503,59,5011,0
746GMAroshidze Levan2549ESP25142511C.E. Banyoles3,59,0011,0
812GMVocaturo DanieleITA26272619C.E. Mollet3,58,5010,5
47GMKelires AndreasHGRE25100O.F.I Chess Club3,58,5010,5
1040GMNarayanan SrinathIND252903,58,5010,0
119GMDonchenko AlexanderGER264403,58,009,5
1267IMSong RaymondTPE246803,58,009,0
1318GMDurarbayli VasifAZE260903,57,509,5
1434GMErigaisi ArjunH16IND254403,57,509,5
60IMErenberg ArielISR247903,57,509,5
1626GMPuranik AbhimanyuIND258003,57,509,0
1721GMGareyev TimurUSA259803,57,509,0
31GMGukesh D16IND254703,57,509,0
1937GMMoradiabadi ElshanUSA253903,57,009,0
2025GMSantos Latasa JaimeESP25852572Ext3,56,508,0


Pairings for round 5

Bo.No. NameRtgPts. ResultPts. NameRtg No.
GMPraggnanandhaa R 25864 4 GMKorobov Anton 2668
GMSethuraman S.P. 26384 4 GMNarayanan.S.L 2626
GMDonchenko Alexander 2644 4 GMLi Di 2543
GMErigaisi Arjun 2544 GMTabatabaei M.Amin 2635
GMVocaturo Daniele 2627 GMMoradiabadi Elshan 2539
GMDurarbayli Vasif 2609 GMKelires Andreas 2510
GMNarayanan Srinath 2529 GMGareyev Timur 2598
GMAroshidze Levan 2514 GMSantos Latasa Jaime 2585
GMPuranik Abhimanyu 2580 IMSong Raymond 2468
GMGordon Stephen J 2495 GMGukesh D 2547


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