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Tata Steel India 2022 Rapid R1-3: The 'Shakh Attack' Unleashed

by Shahid Ahmed - 29/11/2022

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov enchanted the chess universe with his fantastic play on the first day of Tata Steel Chess India 2022 Rapid. After a relatively paltry victory against Gukesh, the World no.14 exhibited some exemplary play scoring wins over Sethuraman and Wesley So. The third round win against So was excellent. Speaking of excellence, Arjun Erigaisi started the day with a brilliant win over Nodirbek Abdusattorov in a clash of the champions. Arjun slipped a bit in the next two games by somehow managing two draws, one was lost and another had a full point fingertips away. Nihal Sarin is also at an unbeaten 2/3 along with Arjun. Round 4 starts tomorrow at 4 p.m. IST. Photo: Aditya Sur Roy

Nakamura loses two in-a-row, Spectacular start to the tournament

When was the last time you saw a super tournament where only three players remained unscathed after the first day? It will certainly be difficult to recall. Yet, no player is at zero point. Statistically the strength of the field is second-highest since the 2019 edition of Tata Steel Chess India. However, the reality is 9/10 if not 10/10 are capable of winning the tournament. Only six out of 15 games ended decisively, the exact same number as the Women's event of the first day.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov made a fantastic start to emerge sole leader 3/3 | Photo: Aditya Sur Roy

Round 1: An Instant Classic

The clash of champions between the reigning World Rapid and 44th Chess Olympiad Gold medalist, GM Nodirbek Abduattorov (UZB, 2676) and the defending Tata Steel Chess India 2021 Rapid winner and reigning National champion of India, GM Arjun Erigaisi (2628), was absolutely an instant classic. The head-to-head encounters in rated games between the teenagers was tied at 1-1. That changed today.

Abdusattorov - Arjun

Position after 20.b4

20.b4 might seem to be the obvious move for White to launch an attack on Black's castled king. However, computer does not agree with it. It surmises it as a positional inaccuracy. 20...c4 21.Qf3 Rhe8 22.Re1 Qxb4 yes Black can afford to take another pawn because the king cannot be harmed easily. Soon Black's advantage accentuated and he sacrificed an exchange to eliminate any counterplay possibilities. This game will definitely get into the books in the future for a near-perfect play by Black.

Instant Classic: Champion vs Champion - Nodirbek Abdusattorov (UZB) vs Arjun Erigaisi | Video: ChessBase India

Arjun Erigaisi before playing a fantastic game against Nodirbek Abdusattorov | Photo: Aditya Sur Roy

Who nudged the Shakh?

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE, 2747) scored an easy win over D Gukesh (2632) after the latter made a one-move tactical error.

Gukesh - Mamedyarov

Position after 17...Qb6

17...Qb6 not only attacks the b2-bishop but also threatens Bb3 in the next move. 18.Qb5 was the sole saving grace for White. 18...Qxb5 19.Bxb5 c4 20.Bc3 Ne4 was a relatively better choice. 18.Bc3 Bb3 dropped an exchange 19.Bxa5 Bxa4 20.Bxb6 Bxd1 and Black went on to win the game without any difficulty.

D Gukesh became an easy prey for Shakhriyar Mamedyarov | Photo: Aditya Sur Roy
Nakamura's surprise Bh3 exchange against Nihal | Video: ChessBase India

Round 2: Battle of the World Fischer Random Champions

The one match which we did not get to see at the recently concluded World Fischer Random  Champions is between the former and the recent champions - Wesley So (USA, 2784) and Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 2789). Tata Steel Chess India 2022 is certainly the place to have the wish fulfilled.

Nakamura - So

Position after 56...Kg5

So moved his king all the way from b6 to g5 via c7, d8, e8, f7, g6, g5. Although he was forced to move the first time due to 51.dxc5+, that was certainly intentional as he exchanged knights on c5. What followed next is, a beautiful way of converting his advantage into a full point, even though it was certainly not easy.

Position after 85.Kc3

Find out the beautiful finish which So executed in the game after 85.Kc3. When there is a book of best games of So written, this will certainly be considered at the very top of the list.

The Stranded King

Playing a sharp game against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE, 2747) is perhaps not a good idea, especially if you strand your kind at the center of the board. Sethuraman S P (2545) was at the end of a tough loss.

Mamedyarov - Sethuraman

Position after 28.Bxa6

White could have won the game in various ways, yet Mamedyarov opted for a creative and practically sound one 28.Bxa6! Why it is such a good idea? It attempts to neutralize on the long diagonal a8-h1. 28...Qxe6 29.Bxb7 is the only way for Black to stay in the game which is incredibly difficult to find.

The Comeback

India no.2 and World no.23 D Gukesh (2632) bounced back immediately against the Iran no.1 and World no.27 Parham Maghsoodloo (2656).

Position after 39.d5

39.d5 is a neat trick as Rxd5 falls into 40.Rxe4 and the odds increase for White drastically. Black was not going to be greedy for a pawn. His play was evident that he was playing for only one result. 39...Kf5 40.Rc6 Kxd5 41.Rxb6 f3+ 42.Ke1 e3 while computer disagrees with his. One must not forget that time is a factor, human errors and fatigue is something the machine cannot feel. The human psychology will almost always tend to go for 42...e3 instead of the artificial 42...Rd8. One must not forget that Gukesh started using computers only two years ago during the lockdown.

The b3 backfire

Whether 1.b3 is playable against a strong opponent is debatable. It is quite a matter of taste, choice and skill. Arjun Erigaisi (2628) sacrificed his queen against Vidit Gujrathi (2662) on move no.9.

Position after 9.Bg7

In case you are wondering, whether White was forced to sacrifice the queen. The answer is no. 9.Qa3 would have saved both queen and bishop. 9,Bxg7 Bxa4 10.bxa4 Nf6 11.Bxh8 Qd4 12.Nc3 Qxh4 and White is completely lost. White just had a rook and bishop against a queen, which is a far cry from a decent composition.

Position after 28...Qc6

27...c3 loosened Black's grip. 28.Nd5 Qc6 allowed White to save the day 29.Rxe7+ Kf8 30.Nb4 c2 31.Nxc6 d1Q 32.a7 Qg5+ 33.Kf1 Qc1+ and Black had to save the game via perpetual check.

Arjun Erigaisi was flirting with disaster but somehow managed to escape with a draw | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Round 3: Two losses too soon

In a battle of the reigning World Champions and that also for the first time ever in a rated game - Nodirbek Abdusattorov (UZB, 2676) prevailed over Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 2789).

Abdusattorov - Nakamura

Position after 76.Kh2

The two pawns for the knight was enough compensation for Black. The only move Black shouyld not play here is 76...e4 which is exactly what he did. 77.Bg5 Bc6 78.Bxf4 Kxh4 79.Bg3+ Kg5 80.Ne6+ Kf6 81.Nd4 Bd7 82.Bd6 Bc8 83.Kg3 time to bring the king in the action. 83...Kg5 84.Be7+ and Black resigned as the fragmented pawns would fall soon.

The pangs of a loss | Video: ChessBase India

Passive Play

Lately Vidit Gujrathi (2662) is not having trouble getting good positions. However, he is making some passive choices after arriving at a significant advantage.

Vidit - Nihal

Position after 17.Be2

17.Be2 is uncalled for. White needed to do 17.f4 himself before Black could do the same to him. 17...f4 18.Qd3 f3 White's position is now signinficantly worse. 19.Bd1 Nf4 it wouldn't be an understatement to say that Black is positionally winning.

It's almost like Vidit could not shake off the cobwebs from the previous game | Photo: Aditya Sur Roy

When the aim is off the mark

Arjun Erigaisi (2628) had an opportunity to push for a win against D Gukesh (2632).

Gukesh - Arjun

Position after 49.Ke3

49...h3 or Ra1 both would have given Black a decent chance to push for a full point. Black eventually got h3 after a few moves, however the king had reached g1 by then which is a theoretical draw.

D Gukesh and Arjun Erigaisi played a lot of games at the Deathmatch 2.0 earlier this month | Photo: Lennart Ootes

When Shakh = Tal

The name which often gets lost in the shuffle among the top players of the world is, the World Rapid 2013 champion, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE, 2747). He can play some creative, strange and whacky chess to beat any opponent in the world. He has known to have a lot of decisive games against Magnus Carlsen too. He denied his opponent Wesley So, the second consecutive victory of the day.

Position after 17...Qb8

Yes Black just offered his rook at a8 after going 14...Rxg2 and then 16...Rg8 moments ago. This type of chess only a human can play and computers are miles behind it. 18.e4 Qb3 19.Qe3 Bb4+ 20.Bd2 Qb2 and Black went on to win the game.

How did Mamedyarov find this move? | Video: ChessBase India

So had no chance against the best version of Mamedyarov | Photo: Aditya Sur Roy

Sagar mesmerised by Shakh's play | Photo: Lennart Ootes
Tata Steel Chess India 2022 Open Rapid | Round 1-3 Live commentary by IM Sagar Shah and IM Tania Sachdev | Video: ChessBase India
Moments before the start of the Tata Steel Chess India 2022 | Video: ChessBase India
The Tata Steel India Chess 2022 Rapid Round 1 inuaugral moments | Video: ChessBase India

Replay Round 1-3 games

Round 1-3 results

Round 1 on 2022/11/29 at 1600 h
Bo.No.Rtg NameResultName RtgNo.
GMNihal Sarin½ - ½GMNakamura Hikaru
GMAbdusattorov Nodirbek0 - 1GMErigaisi Arjun
GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi½ - ½GMMaghsoodloo Parham
GMGukesh D0 - 1GMMamedyarov Shakhriyar
GMSethuraman S.P.½ - ½GMSo Wesley
Round 2 on 2022/11/29 at 1700 h
Bo.No.Rtg NameResultName RtgNo.
GMNakamura Hikaru0 - 1GMSo Wesley
GMMamedyarov Shakhriyar1 - 0GMSethuraman S.P.
GMMaghsoodloo Parham0 - 1GMGukesh D
GMErigaisi Arjun½ - ½GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi
GMNihal Sarin½ - ½GMAbdusattorov Nodirbek
Round 3 on 2022/11/29 at 1800 h
Bo.No.Rtg NameResultName RtgNo.
GMAbdusattorov Nodirbek1 - 0GMNakamura Hikaru
GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi0 - 1GMNihal Sarin
GMGukesh D½ - ½GMErigaisi Arjun
GMSethuraman S.P.0 - 1GMMaghsoodloo Parham
GMSo Wesley0 - 1GMMamedyarov Shakhriyar


Round 4-6 pairings

Round 4 on 2022/11/30 at 1600 h
Bo.No.Rtg NameResultName RtgNo.
GMNakamura HikaruGMMamedyarov Shakhriyar
GMMaghsoodloo ParhamGMSo Wesley
GMErigaisi ArjunGMSethuraman S.P.
GMNihal SarinGMGukesh D
GMAbdusattorov NodirbekGMVidit Santosh Gujrathi
Round 5 on 2022/11/30 at 1700 h
Bo.No.Rtg NameResultName RtgNo.
GMVidit Santosh GujrathiGMNakamura Hikaru
GMGukesh DGMAbdusattorov Nodirbek
GMSethuraman S.P.GMNihal Sarin
GMSo WesleyGMErigaisi Arjun
GMMamedyarov ShakhriyarGMMaghsoodloo Parham
Round 6 on 2022/11/30 at 1800 h
Bo.No.Rtg NameResultName RtgNo.
GMNakamura HikaruGMMaghsoodloo Parham
GMErigaisi ArjunGMMamedyarov Shakhriyar
GMNihal SarinGMSo Wesley
GMAbdusattorov NodirbekGMSethuraman S.P.
GMVidit Santosh GujrathiGMGukesh D


Standings after Round 3

Rk.SNo NameRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 
GMMamedyarov Shakhriyar2747303,5032
GMErigaisi Arjun2628202,7511
GMNihal Sarin2616202,0011
GMGukesh D26321,502,5011
GMAbdusattorov Nodirbek26761,501,5010
GMMaghsoodloo Parham26561,501,0011
GMSo Wesley27841,500,7511
GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi2662101,7500
GMNakamura Hikaru27890,501,0000
GMSethuraman S.P.25450,500,7500



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