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Nihal Sarin and Aravindh Chithambaram steal the show on day one of the World Rapid 2019

by Sagar Shah - 27/12/2019

The first day of the World Rapid Championships 2019 proved to be quite a successful one for Indian players. Nihal Sarin showed his class as he outwitted three strong grandmasters and with a performance rating of 2758, is gaining 56 Elo points. The only other Indian to have performed better than him on day one was Aravindh Chithambaram, the reigning national champion of India who managed to not only beat Boris Gelfand, but also Alonso Alvar, and Bartosz Socko. Aravindh has an Elo performance of 2800+! In the women's section, we have only two players taking part - Humpy and Harika, but both of them have played extremely well and are on 3.5/4, a half a point behind the leaders. We bring you an illustrated report from day one of the event taking place in the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow!

I have been to some of the most important events in the world of chess - World Youth, World Juniors, Candidates, the Olympiad, super tournaments etc. However, as a journalist I have never felt so lost as I felt at the first day of the World Rapid Championships 2019! It was the first time I was witnessing this event in person. In a day, you have five rounds in the open section and four rounds in the women's section. That's a total of 750 games! As I walked inside the playing hall, I could see hundreds of different openings, so many tactical ideas being executed, theoretical endgames being played, some perfectly well, while many being botched up! An absolute constant was the sound of chess clocks being pressed by hundreds of players every second. I never felt overwhelmed by chess to the extent I felt today!

The playing venue of the World Rapid and Blitz 2019 at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow | Photo: Lennart Ootes

In the open section, there were five rounds of rapid with a time control of 15 minutes plus 10-second increments. As per the schedule, the gap between two rounds was one hour fifteen minutes. However, almost every round went past the schedule. Sometimes a player would be trying hard in a queen vs queen and pawn endgame, or sometimes in a rook and knight vs rook endgame! Day one proceedings were supposed to end by around 9 p.m., but it went all the way until ten and beyond. As one of the players pointed out, "What is extremely tiring for me are not five rounds in a day, but the wait in between the rounds!" Here is how the players spent their free time:

Taking some rest to ensure that you are fresh for the game | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Eating food to stay energized for the game | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Relaxing by checking the mobile phones! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Reading some book! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Giving autographs! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Preparing for your next round opponent! | Photo: Lennart Ootes

On the first day, after five rounds, we have five players on 4½/5 points — Wang Hao, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Jan Krzysztof Duda and Lenier Dominguez leading the event is not such a big surprise. However, the one player who has stunned everyone with his play is Israeli GM Ilya Smirin.

Speed chess is a young man's game, but Smirin, who is 51 years old, beat Maxim Matlakov, Bartosz Socko and Gadir Guseinov | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Standings after round 5

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 
GMWang HaoCHN27484,514,016,026500,0
GMSmirin IliaISR25844,512,514,527450,0
GMMamedyarov ShakhriyarAZE27524,512,014,026310,0
GMDuda Jan-KrzysztofPOL27514,512,014,026180,0
GMDominguez Perez LeinierUSA27554,511,013,026460,0
GMCarlsen MagnusNOR28864,013,015,026370,0
GMGuseinov GadirAZE26914,013,015,025850,0
GMZubov AlexanderUKR26884,013,014,026420,0
GMLe Quang LiemVIE27404,012,515,026100,0
GMDubov DaniilRUS27524,012,014,026410,0
GMMotylev AlexanderRUS27034,011,513,525900,0
GMVachier-Lagrave MaximeFRA28734,011,513,026130,0
GMFridman DanielGER26113,515,017,027320,0
GMShirov AlexeiESP26723,514,016,526390,0
GMGiri AnishNED27473,514,016,526220,0
GMRiazantsev AlexanderRUS25943,513,515,527450,0
GMAronian LevonARM27843,513,515,526490,0
GMPonkratov PavelRUS26873,513,515,526170,0
GMVallejo Pons FranciscoESP26363,513,514,526660,0
GMNepomniachtchi IanRUS27453,513,016,026080,0

How are the Indians performing?

Currently we have two Indians in the open section who are on 3.5/5 and two in the women who are on 3.5/4.

It was difficult to get everyone in the frame, but we got six of our players! The two guys on the extreme left and right are currently leading the Indian challenge with 3.5/5
Aravindh Chithambaram beat Boris Gelfand in round one. The youngster went on to beat Alonso Rossell Alvar and also Bartosz Socko and is currently on 3.5/5 with a 2827 performance.
Nihal Sarin's first round win against GM Eduardo Iturrizaga 
Nihal Sarin recaps his day one performance of 2758. He also gains 58 Elo points. It has to be mentioned that because Nihal hasn't played too many rapid events, his Elo is just 2292.

Raunak Sadhwani has scored three wins over three GMs - Robert Ruck, Alexander Donchenko and Aleksandar Indjic. He is on 3.0/5 and gaining 38 Elo points | Photo: Lennart Ootes

B. Adhiban lost his round one game to Valentin Dragnev, before coming back strongly and winning three games. He lost his last round of the day to Le Quang Liem. Currently, the beast is on 3.0/5. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The coach and his trainer! Vishnu Prasanna is on 2.5/5. His student D. Gukesh, who is the last seed of the event, with an Elo of 1799 (!) is on 2.0/5. Although Gukesh is gaining Elo points, he will be looking for more on day two. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

GM Surya Ganguly, who spends his time in between the rounds reading Kindle (Anand's MindMaster!) is currently on 3.0/5 | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Nihal's trainer N. Srinath is back on the board and is currently on 3.0/5. His fifth round win against strong Russian GM Maxim Matlakov was commendable.

Sethuraman S.P is on 3.0/5 and has draws against strong GMs like Korobov and Artemiev | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Sasikiran is on 3.0/5 with draws against Kamsky and Artemiev | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Vidit Gujrathi played below expectations as he scored 2.5/5 | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Humpy Koneru is on 3.5/4 and had an excellent day one | Photo: Amruta Mokal

So did Harika Dronavalli, who is also on 3.5/4 | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Standings after round 4

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 
IMArabidze MeriGEO24164,08,59,522390,0
WGMGirya OlgaRUS23654,08,09,023770,0
IMBulmaga IrinaROU23834,07,08,023000,0
IMKashlinskaya AlinaRUS22933,58,510,022940,0
GMKoneru HumpyIND24383,58,59,523000,0
IMCharochkina DariaRUS22963,58,09,524660,0
WFMNurgali NazerkeKAZ19933,58,09,523610,0
GMTan ZhongyiCHN24963,57,59,523230,0
GMHarika DronavalliIND24253,56,06,022580,0
FMGoltseva EkaterinaRUS21543,010,012,024000,0
WIMDordzhieva DinaraRUS23103,09,010,024350,0
IMMunguntuul BatkhuyagMGL23683,09,09,523190,0
GMDzagnidze NanaGEO24783,08,59,523440,0
GMLei TingjieCHN24983,08,58,523380,0
IMBuksa NataliyaUKR22753,08,08,022560,0

Overview of Indian performances

48GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi2668½1½0½2,5102Rapid Open
72GMAdhiban B.2607011103,065Rapid Open
81GMSasikiran Krishnan2601101½½3,070Rapid Open
91GMGanguly Surya Shekhar259210½1½3,079Rapid Open
111GMSethuraman S.P.2560½01½13,073Rapid Open
130GMNarayanan Srinath2526½01½13,062Rapid Open
138GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr.25081½0113,531Rapid Open
164GMVishnu Prasanna. V24381001½2,5105Rapid Open
170GMHarsha Bharathakoti2418011002,0134Rapid Open
180IMSadhwani Raunak2358011013,074Rapid Open
189GMNihal Sarin229210½113,538Rapid Open
207GMGukesh D17991½00½2,0150Rapid Open
13GMKoneru Humpy24381½113,55Rapid Women
16GMHarika Dronavalli24251½113,59Rapid Women

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