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Tata Steel India 2022 Blitz R1-9: Arjun Erigaisi grabs sole lead, performs at 2871, now World no.12

by Shahid Ahmed - 04/12/2022

Arjun Erigaisi scored 6.5/9 to emerge sole leader at Tata Steel Chess India 2022 Blitz. He is a half point ahead of Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE) who was the only person to beat Arjun so far. They are followed by Vidit Gujrathi at 5.5/9. With a performance of 2871, Arjun is gaining 14.4 Elo rating points so far, making him currently the World no.12 in Blitz in the live ratings. Nihal Sarin made the perfect start by beating Hikaru Nakamura in the first round. However, they both are now at 5/9 each. Gukesh and Praggnanandhaa are at 4/9 each. The final day of the Blitz tournament starts today from 3 p.m. IST. Who do you think will win the event? Photo: Lennart Ootes

No one remains invincible

If the Rapid event was a sign of things to come, no one should be surprised to see that all players lost at least one game. The reigning World Rapid champion, Nodirbek Abdusattorov (UZB) is struggling at 2/9. That certainly speaks volumes about the level of the playing field. Round 1, 3, 6 and 7 had five decisive games each. As the tournament progresses towards its conclusion, we might just see more of them. 36 out of 45 games ended decisively. There were only nine draws. The decisive game percentage is at 80 now.

Arjun Erigaisi would certainly like to win the Tata Steel Chess India 2022 Blitz event, he finished as a runner-up last year | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Vidit Gujrathi is also aiming for a strong finish | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Round 1: Nihal, Arjun and Praggnananadhaa score big

Nihal Sarin (2702) started the day with a huge victory over Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 2909). It was certainly a difficult queen vs double rook endgame for both players to play in the last few seconds. Nihal eventually prevailed against all odds.

Nihal - Nakamura

Position after 70.Kg3

70...Kh6 and bringing the black king into action would have made things difficult for White. 70...Rd3+ 71.Kh4 and now Rxf4+ still ensures Black does not lose the pawns. 71...Rde1 72.Kh4 Rde1 73.Qxg6+ Kh8 74.Qf6+ Kg8 75.Qg6+ Kf8 76.Qxf5+ dropped both pawns in quick succession and it was also important to capture the last pawn with a check to not lose tempo. The game ended with a nice zugzwang where Black is forced to lose a rook and liquidating into a pawn ending is also a loss for Black too.

Nihal vs Nakamura - From False Start to Epic Finish | Video: ChessBase India

Nihal-Nakamura in the first round certainly delivered as expected | Photo: Lennart Ootes

If you play the French Defense and want to see a complete domination in it, look no further. Arjun Erigaisi's (2750) win over the reigning World Rapid champion, Nodirbek Abdusattorov (UZB, 2666) is a perfect example of it.

Arjun's total Domination in French Defense against Abdusattorov | Video: ChessBase India

Praggnanandhaa - So

Position after 22...d3

So has made a thematic exchange sacrifice. Black is making some deadly advances with his pawns at the middle of the board. 23.g4 Bxb2 instead Black should have followed through his plan and gone with d2. 24.gxf5 Bxa3 25.Rc3 dxe2 26.Qxe2 and White gained the upper hand.

Praggnanandhaa vs So - Exchange Sacrifice, Exposed King in Reti | Video: ChessBase India
Round 2: What did the arbiter say after a piece fell? Praggnanandhaa vs Shakh | Video: ChessBase India

Round 2: White wins three

Arjun Erigaisi (2750) was winning against Vidit Gujrathi (2669). However, the time trouble caused the former to miss his chance in a complex position and Vidit escaped with a draw via perpetual check.

Hikaru Nakamura vs Wesley So - The All-American Clash | Video: ChessBase India

Battle of the World Champions - The first-ever rated blitz encounter between them was won by Nakamura in round 3 | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Round 4: Arjun, Gukesh and Vidit score

D Gukesh (2632) ended his losing streak by scoring his first win of the event against Nihal Sarin (2702). One blunder by Nihal allowed his opponent to create a deadly battery on the second rank.

Nihal vs Gukesh - One Blunder to Ruin it All | Video: ChessBase India

Arjun Erigaisi (2750) sacrificed his knight on the kingside to launch an attack. Although his opponent, R Praggnanandhaa (2599) could have refuted it, he just could not find the way.

Are we looking at the Tata Steel Chess India 2022 Blitz champion? | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Vidit Gujrathi (2669) defeated Nodirbek Abdusattorov (UZB, 2666) in a 143-move marathon game. The queen vs queen and knight endgame lasted for 55 moves.

Round 5: Gukesh beats Abdusattorov again

Praggnanandhaaa made a tactical error in an advantageous endgame which allowed his opponent, Nihal to do some tactic of his own to win the game.

Praggnanandhaa vs Nihal - Intense Tactical Skirmish | Video: ChessBase India

Praggnanandhaa - Nihal encounter was an exciting battle | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Gukesh beat Abdusattorov for the second time at Tata Steel Chess India 2022. This time he just kept rolling his passed a-pawn and promoted it into a queen. He had no trouble winning the game with two queens present on the board.

Gukesh vs Abdusattorov - Unstoppable Pawn Rolls into a Queen | Video: ChessBase India

Round 6: Five decisive games

Nihal Sarin played ambitiously from the get-go against Wesley So. He certainly wanted to win which was evident from his play and he scored a win.

Arjun Erigaisi vs Shakh - Extreme King Hunt on both Flanks | Video: ChessBase India

Praggnanandhaa showed a great positional understanding to hand Abdusattorov his fourth consecutive loss.

GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov (UZB) vs GM R Praggnanandhaa | Video: ChessBase India

Vidit Gujrathi denied a hat-trick to Gukesh. He scored an emphatic win in the Catalan.

Round 7: Gukesh beats Hikaru, Praggnanandhaa and Arjun win

D Gukesh became the second person to beat Hikaru Nakamura at the Blitz event after Nihal. The teenager just completely destroyed the Blitz no.1's kingside.

No matter what the tournament situation is, Gukesh can beat anyone in any round | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Praggnanandhaa handed Vidit his second loss of the day by launching a devastating attack on the kingside.

Arjun showed a great positional understanding in a semi-gridlocked position against Parham.

Parham Maghsoodloo vs Arjun Erigaisi | Video: ChessBase India

Round 8: Arjun, Nihal and Gukesh score full point

Arjun defeated Hikaru effortlessly and made it look easy.

Nihal launched an excellent attack on the kingside in a double rook and bishop endgame. Parham's erroneous play and no resistance to the attack, allowed Nihal to score the victory.

Nihal has nine more rounds to climb back to the top | Photo: Lennart Ootes

While Praggnanandhaa was winning for the better part of the game, an ill-timed mistake in the endgame cost him material and the game against D Gukesh.

Gukesh vs Praggnanandhaa - KID goes on a Rollercoaster Ride | Video: ChessBase India

Mamedyarov - Vidit, Round 9

Position after 29.Be4??

29.Be4?? is a mistake. Can you find out the winning continuation for Black?

Vidit Gujrathi stuns Shakhriyar Mamedyarov | Video: ChessBase India

IM Tania Sachdev and IM Sagar Shah with the tournament ambassador GM Vishy Anand during live commentary | Photo: Amruta Mokal
"Every half point is important" - Vishy Anand | Blitz day 1 | WACA Recap | Video: ChessBase India
Vidit's positional technique, Nihal's tactics and a tough rook endgame - IM Sagar Shah round-up | Video: ChessBase India
Tata Steel Chess India 2022 Open Blitz | Round 1-9 Live commentary by IM Sagar Shah and IM Tania Sachdev | Video: ChessBase India

Replay Round 1-9 games

Round 9 results

Round 9 on 2022/12/03 at 1840 h
Bo.No.Rtg NameResultName RtgNo.
GMPraggnanandhaa R0 - 1GMNakamura Hikaru
GMSo Wesley1 - 0GMGukesh D
GMMamedyarov Shakhriyar0 - 1GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi
GMMaghsoodloo Parham½ - ½GMAbdusattorov Nodirbek
GMErigaisi Arjun½ - ½GMNihal Sarin


Standings after Round 9

Rk.SNo NameRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 
GMErigaisi Arjun27506,5025,7554
GMMamedyarov Shakhriyar27336027,0053
GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi26695,5024,2542
GMNihal Sarin27025120,2541
GMNakamura Hikaru29095018,7542
GMMaghsoodloo Parham26724116,5031
GMGukesh D26324116,0041
GMPraggnanandhaa R25994114,5041
GMSo Wesley27633012,0020
GMAbdusattorov Nodirbek26662010,5010



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