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Top seed Nihal Sarin wins Super Juniors Cup

by Shahid Ahmed - 11/12/2020

Super Juniors Cup day 5 was full of action and all drama one could expect. 14th world champion Vladimir Kramnik, Boris Gelfand, Anish Giri, Teimour Radjabov, Vidit Gujrathi, Surya Sekhar Ganguly and everyone else enjoyed the rich analysis and commentary for the exciting 23 games that was played on the final day. Nihal Sarin won the Super Juniors Cup by beating Abhimanyu Puranik 3.5-2.5 in the Semi-Finals and Arjun Erigaisi by 4.5-1.5 in the Finals. Both of Nihal's opponents had plenty of opportunities in the games, yet it was Nihal who was the better player, thus the deserved champion. Photo: ChessBase India

Nihal wasn't at his best, he was just better than his opponents

It is true that Nihal Sarin is the one of the top juniors in the world, Asian Continental Blitz title and winning two separate Junior blitz online championship is an evidence of that. However on the final day, whatever may be the reason, Nihal Sarin was not at his best form as both Abhimanyu and Arjun had a plethora of opportunities against him in Semi-Finals and Finals respectively. But yes, Nihal was better than his opponents when it mattered the most as Siegbert Tarrasch said, "One doesn’t have to play well, it’s enough to play better than your opponent".

The Quarter-Finalists | Photo: ChessBase India

Finals: Nihal Sarin - Arjun Erigaisi: 4.5-1.5

In the first game of the Finals, Nihal made a mistake in the endgame.

Nihal - Arjun, Game 1

Position after 22.gxf3

White needed to recapture with 22.Nxf3. However it turned out that it was not easy for black to convert the advantage into a win as Nihal put up a staunch defence.

The second game ended up in a hard-fought draw.

Arjun - Nihal, Game 2

Position after 28.hxg4

Can you think like Nihal here and find out what black should do? Eventually white got an opportunity which he could not seize.

Position after 63...f5

Find out the best continuation for white after 63...f5

Nihal scored a comfortable victory in Game 3 without giving any chance and took the lead 2-1.

Nihal scored another fine victory in Game 4 and extended his lead to 3-1.

The fifth game was the longest game of the tournament spanning over 150 moves. Arjun had some real chances to reduce the gap.

Nihal - Arjun, Game 5

Position after 41.Rxf6

One of the best chance black had in the entire game was after 41.Rxf6. What is the winning continuation for black here?

The score became 3.5-1.5, Nihal was just a win away from winning the match and the entire tournament. Arjun got plenty of opportunities, the eventual endgame was also winning for him, it was just not Arjun's day as he blundered and lost the game.

Arjun - Nihal, Game 6

Position after 35...Rfe8

Find out the winning continuation for white here. There were few more opportunities for white but he missed them all.

Abhimanyu secured the third place, Raunak finished fourth | Photo: ChessBase India

Third-Fourth place: Abhimanyu Puranik - Raunak Sadhwani 3.5-2.5

Raunak capitalized on Abhimanyu's mistake and won the first game.

Abhimanyu - Raunak, Game 1

Position after 20.Rd7

Find out why 20.Rd7 is a mistake and how black should continue here.

The second game was a well-fought draw. Raunak got a fantastic position in game three. He was winning for the better part of the game. Abhimanyu's relentless defence and the willingness to continue turned things around eventually.

Abhimanyu - Raunak, Game 3

Position after 39.Ke2

Black is completely winning here, it's just that black needs to make sure white's all counter-play is stopped. How? The score became level at 1.5-1.5

Once again Raunak got a winning position, this time out of the opening.

Raunak - Abhimanyu, Round 4

Position after 13.Nc7+

White is completely winning here. Although Abhimanyu managed to salvage the position in the early endgame but later on Raunak got a decisive advantage and in the final position also he was winning but he ran out of time and Abhimanyu took the lead 2.5-1.5

Abhimanyu got a fantastic position in the fifth game but he couldn't maintain it. Raunak made a tactical shot which lacked venom, but Abhimanyu mishandled it and lost immediately.

Abhimanyu - Raunak, Game 5

Position after 23...Bg2

23...Bg2 is not a deadly threat. Why? With this win, Raunak tied the score 2.5-2.5

Despite having an advantageous position for the better part of the sixth game, Raunak eventually blundered in the end which cost him the game and the match. Thus Abhimanyu secured the third position and Raunak had to settle for fourth.

Arjun, Nihal, Raunak and Abhimanyu - The Semi-Finalists

Semi-Final 1: Abhimanyu Puranik - Nihal Sarin 2.5-3.5

Abhimanyu was completely winning at the final moments of the endgame. However the time trouble and pressure of the Semi-Final got the better of him and Nihal salvaged the position by making a perpetual.

Nihal - Abhimanyu, Game 1

Position after 36.Kg1

One of the best chance black had in the entire game was after 36.Kg1. Find out the winning continuation for black here.

In the second game, Nihal drew the first blood as Abhimanyu weakened his kingside on his own and allowed his opponent's pieces to invade. However there was a twist in the tale at the end.

Abhimanyu - Nihal, Game 2

Position after 17.f4

Find out why 17.f4 is not a good idea for white here.

Position after 25.exd4

What is the immediate win for black after 25.exd4 ?

Position after 33...Qg3+

White is winning in this position, however he has to make sure black doesn't get any counter-play. How can white make that happen? Eventually Abhimanyu blundered and lost from a winning position. However this time, it is slightly more trickier considering the fact that queens and bishop pairs in time scramble is not at all easy to calculate, intuition can go wrong any time and that's what happened.

In the third game, Nihal got an advantage early in the middlegame.

Nihal - Abhimanyu, Game 3

Position after 15...Ra8

White has a firm control on the queenside, how should white progress after 15...Ra8 ?

Position after 29.g3

It seems like black is in troubled waters as both rook and bishop are threatened and there is no way for black to save both. What if I tell you there is? Find out the interesting way for black to save the game. Abhimanyu's incorrect play allowed Nihal to get a winning position but he missed it.

Position after 32...h4

Find out the winning continuation for white after 32...h4.

Abhimanyu struck back in the fourth game to equalize the score 2-2. However to understand Nihal's strength, check the following position:

Abhimanyu - Nihal, Game 4

Position after 26.f4

Can you think like Nihal after 26.f4 ?

Position after 32.Bf2

The game could have easily went on with 32...Qd8 or Qe7 but Nihal blundered with 32...Nxf2 overlooking the mate in two in a momentary blindspot in a time scramble.

In the fifth game, Nihal got an advantage in the middle game but he couldn't capitalize on it.

Nihal - Abhimanyu, Game 5

Position after 23.exd6

How should black recapture on d6 - 23...Nxd6 or exd6 ? Find out the reason behind it.

Position after 27...f6

27...f6 only stops a check but invites more trouble for black. How?

Position after 39...Rb3

The easiest win white had in the entire game was after 39...Rb3, something which both players missed.

The score was level 2.5-2.5 after five games. In a seemingly equal endgame, Abhimanyu tried too hard and lost the game. A draw would have meant the match going to the Armageddon.

Abhimanyu - Nihal, Game 6

Position after 44.Bb5

Well 44.Bb5 doesn't add anything to white's position. It only allows black to swing the rook to b2 via h7-h2. Find out what white could have done instead. With this win, Nihal won the match 3.5-2.5 and advanced to the Finals.

Abhimanyu showcased his strength against Nihal | Photo: ChessBase India

Semi-Final 2: Arjun Erigaisi - Raunak Sadhwani: 3.5-1.5

In a seemingly equal knight endgame, Arjun displaced his knight at the wrong moment, neglecting his king's advancement which allowed Raunak to get decisive advantage.

Arjun - Raunak, Game 1

Position after 32...Nf5

How should white continue here?

In the second game, Raunak overstretched which allowed Arjun to gain the upper hand.

Raunak - Arjun

Position after 16.g4

White is about to launch a devastating attack on the kingside. How should black deal with it?

The third game was an uneventful draw. Score is now 1.5-1.5. The fourth game was also heading towards a draw but Raunak blundered and Arjun took the lead 1.5-2.5

Raunak - Arjun, Game 4

Position after 43...Nc6

The only thing white doesn't need to do here is to defend the b4-pawn and white did that due to instinct but time trouble caused him to miss Nd4+.

Arjun seized the opportunity when it was presented to him and won the game. Thus winning the match by 3.5-1.5

Arjun - Raunak, Game 5

Position after 22...Qd4

22...Qd4 gives a subtle opportunity for white. What is it?

Arjun got the better of Raunak and advanced to the Finals | Photo: ChessBase India

The final day tweets and the aftermath

Replay all Semi-Final and Final games from Day 5

Replay the live stream

Live commentary by IM Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal | Video: ChessBase India


6th, 7th and 8th December - Matches start at 2 p.m. IST

9th and 10th December - Matches start at 3 p.m. IST


Prizes Prizes
1st 125000
2nd 75000
3rd 40000
4th 25000
5th 15000
6th 15000
7th 15000
8th 15000

9th - 16th ₹10000 each, 17th - 32nd ₹5000 each.

Total Prize Fund: ₹520,000.

Best female Prize: Rs.20,000



Tournament Announcement

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