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Men’s Premier 01: Five decisive games

by Priyadarshan Banjan - 15/11/2015

What a scintillating start to the 2015 National Men’s Premier! We saw it all: an example of near perfect preparation, missed chances and even a loss on time! Sethu beat Murali Karthikeyan after the latter missed his chance to equalize; Vidit destroyed Praneeth in a well-prepared line. Venkatesh shot himself on the foot, Kunte defended well but strangely donated a pawn to Shyam Sundar, while Shyaamnikhil committed suicide against Rathnakaran, losing on time in a better position.

2015 National Men’s Premier Championship

The bustling Tamil Nadu town of Thiruvarur witnessed some chess action of a high caliber, with all the players fighting it out no holds barred. The Round Robin brings together some of the best players in India.


The players – GM S.P. Sethuraman, GM Vidit Gujrathi, GM Deep Sengupta, GM Abhijit Kunte, GM Murali Karthikeyan, GM Swapnil Dhopade, GM Shyam Sundar M., GM Neelotpal Das, IM Arghyadip Das, IM K. Rathnakaran, IM P. Karthikeyan, IM Shyaamnikhil P. and FM Praneeth Surya.

Sethu beat Murali Karthikeyan after the latter missed his chance to equalize; Vidit destroyed Praneeth in a well-prepared line. Venkatesh shot himself on the foot, Kunte was unable to hold his position against Shyam Sundar, while Shyaamnikhil committed suicide against Rathnakaran, losing on time in a better position.

Calm before the storm

The first game to finish was a brilliant display of preparation exhibited by GM Vidit Gujrathi. In a Caro-Kann Advance variation, the players followed a MVL-Ding Liren game from the Wijk aan Zee tournament earlier this year. While Praneeth admitted to have seen the game months back, he could not nail the precise details, going wrong with 17.Qh3?, when Vidit swooped in and picked up his point.

FM Praneeth Surya was unable to handle Vidit's class of preparation, failing to pose problems at all

Vidit romped home without any issues
[Event "NP2015"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.11.15"]
[Round "1.2"]
[White "K. Praneeth Surya"]
[Black "Vidit Santosh Gujrathi"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B12"]
[WhiteElo "2413"]
[BlackElo "2651"]
[PlyCount "72"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:01:19"]
[BlackClock "1:03:48"]
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nf3 e6 5. Be2 Ne7 6. O-O c5 7. c4 Nbc6 8. dxc5
d4 9. Qb3 Qd7 10. Rd1 Ng6 11. Nc3 f6 {The moves being played is theory. The
players are following MVL-Ding Liren, Wijk, 2015.} 12. exf6 gxf6 13. Nd5 Kf7 (
13... exd5 14. cxd5 $16 {is positionally horrible for Black.}) 14. g4 Bxg4 15.
Ng5+ fxg5 16. Bxg4 Nce5 {Vidit sticks to the MVL-Liren game.} 17. Qh3 $2 (17.
Bxg5 $1 {is the way forward. It would have been interesting to see what Vidit
had prepared here. Will we see this again in the tournament? Time will tell.}
Bxc5 (17... Nxg4 18. Qf3+ $16) 18. Qg3 (18. Nf6 {was played by MVL.} Qc6 19.
Bh5 h6 20. Bh4 $11) 18... h6 19. Bf6 Nxg4 20. Qxg4 Rhg8 21. Kh1 Raf8 $16) 17...
h5 $1 {and Black is forcing White to part with material.} 18. Bxe6+ Qxe6 19.
Qxe6+ Kxe6 20. Nc7+ Kd7 21. Nxa8 Bxc5 {and the Na8 is doomed.} 22. b4 Nf3+ 23.
Kg2 Ngh4+ 24. Kh1 {White's pieces are stuck, and all Black is left to do is to
convert.} Be7 25. a3 Rxa8 26. Ra2 a5 27. b5 Rc8 28. Rc2 g4 29. a4 Nf5 30. Kg2
Bb4 31. Kh1 b6 32. Bf4 Re8 33. Ra2 Re4 34. Bc1 Kc7 35. Ba3 Bxa3 36. Rxa3 Re2

Post-game chat with Vidit:

PB: You were playing the last seed of the tournament. Going into this line, what were your expectations?

Vidit: He did not know the theory well and the position was really complicated. At one point, he thought for about fifty minutes and played 17.Qh3, which is a mistake. However, the position was too complex to see everything over the board. After 17...h5, everything is forced and his pieces get stuck.


PB: You must have seen the MVL-Ding Liren game?

Vidit: Yeah, it was played in Wijk aan Zee this year.


PB: What would have happened had he entered 17.Bxg5?

Vidit: (smiles)


PB: He had actually seen that game too, a while back.

Vidit: He played the Nd5, g4 stuff pretty quickly. I thought this may become a preparation vs. preparation fight. I think, he forgot the details -- there are a lot of small points to remember in the position, as regards to placing the pieces. It is very easy to forget.


PB: There was nothing critical to do after all that?

Vidit: No, I just had to make sure not to blunder.


PB: Tomorrow you are playing...

Vidit: Rathnakaran...


PB: I suppose that will be a crazy game? You are well known to be well prepared while he is well known to be unprepared...

Vidit: Actually, we have played each other a lot since 2006. Every time, I've had black pieces, and tomorrow I will be White. Our games are always crazy! 


Two games finished almost at the same time. First, GM Neelotpal Das and IM Arghyadip Das settled for a draw in their theoretical debate in the Slav.

GM Neelotpal Das did not pose much problems to...

...IM Arghyadip Das 
[Event "NP2015"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.11.15"]
[Round "1.3"]
[White "Neelotpal Das"]
[Black "Das Arghyadip"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D45"]
[WhiteElo "2475"]
[BlackElo "2456"]
[PlyCount "53"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "1:27:17"]
[BlackClock "1:32:05"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. Bd3 O-O 8. O-O
dxc4 9. Bxc4 b5 10. Bd3 Bb7 11. a3 Rc8 12. b4 c5 {A heavy theoretical debate.}
13. bxc5 Bxf3 14. cxd6 Nd5 15. gxf3 Qg5+ 16. Kh1 Qh5 17. Be2 Nxc3 18. Rg1 Nf6 {
The players have been following Bacrot-Ter Sahakyan, 2015.} 19. Rg2 {a new
move. As we shall see, this does not pose Black enough problems.} (19. Bb2 {
is what Bacrot chose.} Nxe2 20. Qxe2 {White has posed problems on g7.} g6 21.
e4 $14) 19... Rfd8 $11 (19... Nxe2 20. Qxe2 Ne4 21. d7 Rcd8 22. Bb2 Rxd7 23.
Rc1 (23. Re1 Nd6 $15) 23... g6 {is flashy, but equal.}) 20. Bb2 Nfd5 {There is
not much concrete problems Black has in holding these positions.} (20... Nxe2 {
is supposed to be the point.}) 21. Rag1 g6 22. Bxc3 Nxc3 23. Rg5 Qh4 24. Rc5
Qxf2 25. Qxc3 Qxe2 26. Rxc8 Qxf3+ 27. Rg2 1/2-1/2


Next, IM Shyaamnikhil overstepped the time limit in a better position against IM K. Rathnakaran

IM Rathnakaran played a strange game, that ended with a stranger result!
[Event "NP2015"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.11.15"]
[Round "1.7"]
[White "Rathnakaran K."]
[Black "Shyaamnikhil P"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B50"]
[WhiteElo "2447"]
[BlackElo "2436"]
[PlyCount "60"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. c3 Nf6 4. Bc4 e6 5. Qe2 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Re1 d5 8. exd5
exd5 9. Qxe7 Qxe7 10. Rxe7 dxc4 11. b3 Nc6 12. Re1 cxb3 13. axb3 $15 {This is
a kind of position one would expect Rathnakran to play suspiciously.} Bg4 14.
d3 Rfd8 15. Re3 Nd5 16. Re2 f6 17. Rea2 Re8 18. Bd2 Bxf3 19. gxf3 $19 Rad8 20.
Kf1 a6 21. f4 Nc7 22. Be3 Rxd3 23. Rd2 Rxd2 24. Nxd2 Nd5 25. Bxc5 Nxc3 26. Nc4
Rb8 27. Nd6 Nd5 28. f5 a5 29. Rd1 Nde7 30. Bb6 Ra8 {...and as Black played
this, his flag fell! A sad end to an almost won game from Black.} 1-0


M. Karthikeyan had a rough start to the tournament, going down in flames against the defending champion.

One of the brightest Indian talents, GM Murali Karthikeyan lashed out prematurely against defending champion GM S.P. Sethuraman, only to suffer from self-inflicted time-trouble. That said, Karthikeyan had his chance to equalize towards the end.

[Event "NP2015"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.11.15"]
[Round "1.1"]
[White "Karthikeyan Murali"]
[Black "Sethuraman S.P."]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B47"]
[WhiteElo "2498"]
[BlackElo "2651"]
[PlyCount "86"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:29:43"]
[BlackClock "0:28:19"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. Be2 Nf6 7. O-O Be7 8.
Kh1 {Move order tricks on display.} O-O 9. f4 d6 10. Be3 Nxd4 11. Qxd4 a6 12.
a4 Bd7 {A typical Sethu move.} 13. a5 (13. e5 {may be a better way to fight in
such positions. GM Adhiban was of the opinion that White has to get in the e5
move at some point.}) 13... Bc6 14. f5 {this gives up the e5 square.} Kh8 15.
Qd3 Rae8 16. Bf4 Qc8 17. Bf3 Rd8 18. Qe2 (18. fxe6 fxe6 19. Bg5 $11) 18... Nd7
19. g4 $2 {With a Bishop on c6, White's idea is suspicious at best.} Rfe8 20.
Qg2 Ne5 21. Bxe5 dxe5 22. g5 exf5 23. exf5 Bxf3 24. Rxf3 Qc6 25. Raf1 Bb4 26.
g6 $17 fxg6 27. fxg6 hxg6 $2 28. Ne4 $1 {this brings White back in the game.}
Kg8 29. Ng5 $2 {Missing his chance!} (29. Rf6 $1 gxf6 (29... Re6 30. Qxg6 Rxf6
31. Rxf6 Qxc2 32. Qf7+ Kh8 33. Qh5+ $11) 30. Qxg6+ Kh8 31. Qh5+ Kg8 32. Rg1+
Kf8 33. Qh7 $1 $18) 29... Bd2 30. Nf7 Rd7 31. Rd3 Rxd3 32. Qxc6 bxc6 33. cxd3
Bf4 34. Nd6 Rd8 35. Nc4 Rxd3 36. Re1 Rd5 37. Kg2 Kf7 38. Re2 Ke6 39. Rc2 Kf5
40. b4 Ke4 41. Kf2 Kd3 42. Na3 c5 {A small trick leading to a completely won
endgame.} 43. bxc5 Rxc5 0-1

 Post-game chat with Sethu:

PB: You were playing one of the most talented players of this country. What was your expectation from the opening?

Sethu: I was expecting him to play this line. It has been played by Negi a few times, so I was well prepared. He used up a lot of time in the opening -- almost a difference of half an hour. The position was solid for me, and then he started going g4-g5...


PB: Do you think that plan was bad since you had a bishop on c6 already.

Sethu: Yes, I think so. I always had control of the position, but later, in time-trouble it became a bit complicated, but he missed some moves. He allowed ..Nd7-- and in return he got some play but I didn't see any attack from him.


PB: The usual idea is to break with e5?

Sethu: Yes, but he went f5, which I thought was dubious. Maybe, he could just plant Bf3 and slowly try for g4, without playing f5.


PB: Anything critical in the position after that?

Sethu: In time-trouble, he missed 29.Rf6, a tactical shot, which should hold -- he just has to find some precise moves.


PB: Were you afraid when you noticed that possibility?

Sethu: He was low on time. I thought he would miss it!


PB: Tomorrow you are playing...

Sethu: Neelotpal. I have a good score against him. Let's hope for a good day tomorrow.

Will  Sethu do an encore?


GM M.R. Venkatesh decided to compromise on his development and was penalized instantaneously by...
IM P. Karthikeyan
[Event "NP2015"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.11.15"]
[Round "1.6"]
[White "Karthikeyan P."]
[Black "Venkatesh M.R."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A06"]
[WhiteElo "2441"]
[BlackElo "2464"]
[PlyCount "99"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
1. Nf3 d5 2. c4 c6 3. e3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. b3 Bd6 6. Bb2 Nbd7 7. Qc2 a6 8. Be2 (
8. d4 {is relatively more famous here.}) 8... b5 9. g4 {A very interesting
plan.} h6 10. Rg1 g5 $2 (10... Bb7 {Black should stick to the basics and
develop his pieces.}) 11. cxd5 cxd5 12. Nxd5 $1 exd5 13. Qc6 Qc7 14. Qxa8 O-O (
14... Nb6 15. Bxb5+ axb5 16. Qa5 $18) 15. Rc1 Nc5 16. b4 (16. Bxf6 {For us
humans, this is almost too random, but a comp sees that} Nd3+ 17. Bxd3 Qxc1+
18. Ke2 {and White is just a piece up. If} Qxg1 19. h3 $1 (19. Nxg1 Bxg4+ 20.
f3 Bxf3+ 21. Nxf3 Rxa8 {may give Black chances.}) 19... Bxg4 20. Qxd5 Bh5 21.
Qxd6 $18) 16... Bd7 17. Qxa6 Nxa6 18. Rxc7 Nxc7 19. Bxf6 $18 {White is a pawn
up.} Ra8 20. h4 Bxb4 21. hxg5 Ne8 22. Bd4 hxg5 23. Ne5 Bc8 24. Nc6 Bf8 25. Bxb5
Rxa2 26. Rh1 Bg7 27. Ne7+ Kf8 28. Bxg7+ Nxg7 29. Ng6+ fxg6 30. Rh8+ Ke7 31.
Rxc8 d4 32. Rc7+ Kf6 33. Rf7+ Kxf7 34. Bc4+ Kf6 35. Bxa2 Ke5 36. Ke2 Ne8 37.
Bf7 Nf6 38. f3 Nd7 39. Bxg6 Nc5 40. Bf5 Nb3 41. Bc2 Nc5 42. Kf2 dxe3+ 43. dxe3
Ne6 44. Kg3 Nc7 45. f4+ Kf6 46. Bb3 Nb5 47. e4 Nd4 48. e5+ Ke7 49. Bc4 Nc6 50.
Kf3 1-0


GM Shyam Sundar M. had a winning start to his campaign
GM Kunte, quite literally, donated a pawn and a point
[Event "NP2015"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.11.15"]
[Round "1.5"]
[White "Shyam Sundar M."]
[Black "Kunte Abhijit"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A30"]
[WhiteElo "2481"]
[BlackElo "2515"]
[PlyCount "101"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nd4 {A rare move. Most probably, Kunte played jsut
for its surprise value.} 4. g3 g6 (4... Nxf3+ 5. exf3 Nf6 6. d4 $11) 5. Bg2 Bg7
6. O-O d6 7. Rb1 {In analogous positions, it is normal to hit b4.} Nf6 8. b4
O-O 9. bxc5 dxc5 $16 {White has realistic pressure on the queenside.} 10. Na4
Ne6 11. d3 Qc7 12. Nc3 (12. Ng5 {is a more natural choice.} Nxg5 13. Bxg5 Rb8
14. Nc3 a6 15. Qb3 $14) 12... Rd8 13. Nb5 Qb8 14. a4 Bd7 15. Ng5 Nxg5 16. Bxg5
Qc8 17. Nc3 Bc6 18. Bxc6 Qxc6 19. Qb3 Rd7 20. Qb5 Rc8 21. Qa5 Ra8 22. Qb5 Rc8
23. Qxc6 Rxc6 24. Rb5 Ne8 $11 25. Nd5 f6 26. Be3 e6 27. Nf4 b6 28. Rb3 f5 29.
Rfb1 Bf6 30. h4 Bd8 31. Bd2 h6 $4 {Blunder. Why would Black play this?!} 32.
Nxg6 Bc7 (32... Rg7 33. Ne5 {Why did Black give the pawn?!}) 33. Bf4 Kf7 34.
Ne5+ Bxe5 35. Bxe5 Nf6 36. a5 Rb7 37. axb6 axb6 38. Ra1 Nd7 39. Bf4 e5 40. Bd2
Kg6 41. Ra8 Re6 42. Rba3 e4 43. Rh8 Kh5 44. dxe4 fxe4 45. Raa8 Ne5 46. Rag8 Nf7
47. Rh7 Rg6 48. Rhg7 Rxg7 49. Rxg7 Nd6 50. Rg8 Nxc4 51. Bc3 {Did you see
White's point? Kg2-Kh3, and Black has to give up his army to prolong the
battle!} 1-0


GM Swapnil Dhopade

Newly minted grandmaster Swapnil Dhopade drew his game against Deep Sengupta. Donning the black pieces, Swapnil did have a slight pressure through the game, but he passed over his opportunity to pose problems on the queenside.

GM Deep Sengupta spent his time neutralizing pressure, despite having the white pieces
[Event "NP2015"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.11.15"]
[Round "1.4"]
[White "Sengupta Deep"]
[Black "Swapnil S. Dhopade"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B11"]
[WhiteElo "2589"]
[BlackElo "2497"]
[PlyCount "91"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:07:15"]
[BlackClock "0:12:10"]
1. e4 c6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Nf3 Bg4 4. h3 Bh5 {Here, Deep went on a deep think, and
played} 5. d3 e6 6. Be2 Nf6 7. O-O Be7 8. Bf4 O-O 9. Nd2 Bg6 (9... Bxe2 {
was played by Ding Liren in 2012 against Nakamura. He lost.}) 10. Bf3 Nbd7 11.
Bh2 a5 12. a3 a4 13. Ne2 Qb6 14. Rb1 dxe4 15. dxe4 Rfd8 16. Nc3 Qc5 17. Bc7
Rdc8 18. Bf4 b5 19. Qe2 Qb6 20. Rfd1 e5 21. Be3 Bc5 22. Nf1 Nf8 23. Bg4 Nxg4
24. hxg4 Ne6 25. Bxc5 Qxc5 26. Qe3 f6 (26... Nd4 27. Rd2 Rcb8 $15 {could pose
White some concrete problems on the queenside.}) 27. Qxc5 Nxc5 $11 28. f3 Rd8
29. Ne3 Bf7 30. Rxd8+ Rxd8 31. Rd1 Rxd1+ 32. Ncxd1 Kf8 33. Kf2 g6 34. Ke2 Ke7
35. Kd2 Kd6 36. Nf2 Ne6 37. Nd3 Nf4 38. Nc1 Kc5 39. Kc3 h6 40. b3 axb3 41. cxb3
Kb6 42. b4 Kc7 43. Nd3 Nxd3 44. Kxd3 Kd6 45. Nd1 Be6 46. Ne3 1/2-1/2

Crosstable after Round one


Round two Pairings:


Watch the games LIVE.




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