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Abhijeet Gupta stops the Karthikeyan Express

by Satanick Mukhuty - 14/06/2019

Adhiban's beast mode didn't quite work against Karthikeyan's charming form and it was Abhijeet Gupta instead who rose to the occasion in the following round, giving the in-form his first taste of defeat. Amidst ups and downs Sethuraman kept his boat steady, not losing a single game and emerging as one of the leaders.Top seed Vidit Gujrathi lived up to his class, clinching third victory in a row against Vaibhav Suri. Elsewhere , in the women's section, Bhakti suffered a blind spot, blundered a piece, going down against Irine Kharisma Sukandar. Round six and seven report of the Asian Continental 2019. With just two rounds to go, the battle is heating up for the five World Cup spots in the open and one in women's section. 

Round 6 + 7 report in the open section

In the sixth round, Adhiban Baskaran was pitted against the man in form, Murali Karthikeyan. Adhiban had won three games in a row and it remained to be seen if he could bring Karthikeyan's killing spree to a halt. The latter, with the white pieces, chose the exchange variation of Ruy Lopez; queens were traded on move 23 and soon the following position was on the board:

Murali Karthikeyan - Adhiban Baskaran, Round 6

Position after 27.Rad1

Black sort of hastily decided at this point to give up his minor pieces for a rook, 27...f5 28.exf5 Nxf3 29.Kxf3 Be2+ 30.Kf2 Bxd1 31.Rxd1 was played and the evaluation of the position completely changed.

Position after 31.Rxd1: White has two excellent minor pieces for a rook

The tables were turned on Adhiban, White's minor pieces are far too active and the black queen-side pawns far too loose, after 31...Rhf8 32.f6 gxf6 33.Bd6 Rf7 34.Nb6+ Kd8 the c5, d4 pawns are clearly falling.

Position after 34...Kd8: Black is losing both his c and d pawns

Black gave up on move 36 and Karthikeyan remained in the sole lead at the end of the sixth round with an astounding 5.5/6!

Karthikeyan - the unstoppable man! | Photo:

In round 7 Karthikeyan's unbeaten streak was finally broken and it was only another Indian, Abhijeet Gupta, who brought about the upset. It was a long game, Karthikeyan played inaccurately on move 31 and blundered on move 33 but Gupta was not quite able to find the best way to finish him off. Let us see what happened.

Abhijeet Gupta - Murali Karthikeyan, Round 7

Position after 31.Qxh5

White has created a dangerous passed g-pawn and Black's king is weak but there is actually no immediate danger. For instance, in a line like 31...c6 32.Qh6+ Kg8 33.Qg6+ Kf8 nothing happens. But in the game 31...Qe6?! was played and this was a critical error because moving the queen out of a1-h8 diagonal allowed White to go for 32.b4

After 32.b4 Black is under real pressure 

Next, after 32...Nd3 33.Bg4 Black's best chance lay in 33.Qg6 Qxg6 34.Kxg6 Bxd7 35.e3 trading queens and hoping for some play with the passed e-pawn but Karthikeyan lost it completely and went 33...Qxc4 which is a serious blunder, white wins on spot here with 33.Qh6+ Kf7 34.g6+ Ke8 35.Nd5.

After 35.Nd5 White is completely winning.

But it was Gupta's turn to make an imprecision, the game went 33.Qh6+ Kf7 34.Qh7+?! Kf8 35.Qh8+ Qg8 36.Qxg8 Kxg8 37.Bxd7 and White was still winning but it has only become a difficult technical task now.

After 37.Bxd7 White has to carefully deal with Black's extra pawns to win the game - an arduous task!

The game went on for 71 moves until Black resigned.

Abhijeet Gupta finally managed to beat Murali Karthikeyan who has been in tremendous form lately. With today's victory Abhijeet has won three games in a row and is on 5.5/7 now joining Sethuraman and Karthikeyan in the lead. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The top seed of the tournament Vidit Gujrathi continued to march ahead with yet another victory, this time against compatriot Vaibhav Suri. Vidit lost his game to Praggnanandhaa in what was the biggest upset of the fourth round but since then has won three consecutive games. He must keep this performance going if he has to qualify for the 2019 World Cup. Let's see the critical moment of his round7 game against Vaibhav.


Vidit Santosh Gujrathi - Vaibhav Suri, Round 7

Black has just played 17...Be6 ... How should White continue?

Black is looking to harass the white queen with Rab8, White could play safe here with a move like 18.c4, after 18...Rab8 19.Qe1 Rb3 Black is doing well and should easily hold. But Vidit opted here the most incisive way with 18.Rd5!? which evinced that he was in no mood for a draw.

18.Rd5! - Clearly the idea is to create connected passers and win the game!

The game went 18...Rab8 19.Qa4 Bxd5 20.exd5 Rb5 21.d6 and White was fighting to create chances. 

Position after 21.d6

Next, after 21...Qc6 22.Ng3 Rxc5 23.Qg4 the tension had suddenly swung sideways to the king-side, Nf5 is now an idea, note the royal fork on e7!

After 23.Qg4: Nf5 is now a strong motif, threatening mate on g7 and fork on e7

23...Rc4 24.Nf5! Rxg4 25.Ne7+ Kh8 26.Nxc6 was played and the following position was on the board:

Position after 26.Nxc6 ... Two of Black's pieces stand en prise, what should he do?

26...Ra4 27.Nxa5 Rxa5 28.Bxa7 Rxa3 would have been the most logical play, Black erred with 26...Rxg2+ and 27.Kxg2 Nxc6 28.Rd1 Rd8 29.d7 followed.

After 29.d7 it is White who is in charge

The end of the game was quite nice!

Vaibhav Suri couldn't hold his own against the top seed of the event Vidit Gujrathi | Photo:

Apart from his loss to Le Quang Liem, Lalith has been quite solid and has scored 4.5/7 | Photo:

Nihal is on the 15th spot right now and needs to win both his games to make it to top five, but look at the solidity of the youngster. He hasn't lost a single game and is on 4.5/7. | Photo:

Srijit Paul is having a tough time at the event and is on 2.0/7, but this is a valuable learning experience for the youngster! | Photo:

Vignesh NR (left) has a 2600+ performance and with 4.0/7 is gaining 13 Elo points | Photo:

We finally found the photo of the game that was praised across the chess world - Firouzja vs Karthikeyan! This picture still has Karthi's queen on the board! | Photo:

Results of round 6 

Bo.No. NameRtgPts. ResultPts. NameRtg No.
116GMKarthikeyan Murali 2593 1 - 04 GMAdhiban B. 26764
29GMSethuraman S.P. 26134 1 - 04 GMJumabayev Rinat 26257
32GMLe Quang Liem 2694 1 - 04 GMLalith Babu M R 257119
414GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr. 2598 0 - 1 GMFirouzja Alireza 26823
58GMLu Shanglei 2624 ½ - ½ GMXu Xiangyu 258318
610GMGupta Abhijeet 2606 1 - 0 GMPraggnanandhaa R 253724
732GMLiu Yan 2504 ½ - ½ GMNihal Sarin 260611
820GMZeng Chongsheng 2561 0 - 13 GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi 27071
923GMXu Yinglun 25483 0 - 13 GMMaghsoodloo Parham 26655
106GMNguyen Ngoc Truong Son 26393 1 - 03 IMXu Zhihang 250433


Results of round 7

Bo.No. NameRtgPts. ResultPts. NameRtg No.
GMGupta Abhijeet 2606 1 - 0 GMKarthikeyan Murali 2593
GMFirouzja Alireza 2682 ½ - ½5 GMSethuraman S.P. 2613
GMMaghsoodloo Parham 26654 ½ - ½ GMLe Quang Liem 2694
GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi 27074 1 - 04 GMVaibhav Suri 2599
GMAdhiban B. 26764 ½ - ½4 GMLiu Yan 2504
GMIdani Pouya 25974 ½ - ½4 GMNguyen Ngoc Truong Son 2639
GMJumabayev Rinat 26254 1 - 04 IMYakubboev Nodirbek 2587
GMLalith Babu M R 25714 ½ - ½4 GMLu Shanglei 2624
GMNihal Sarin 26064 ½ - ½4 GMAryan Chopra 2553
GMXu Xiangyu 25834 0 - 14 GMNarayanan.S.L 2603

Standings after round 7

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 nwwew-weKrtg+/-
GMKarthikeyan MuraliIND25935,5259926,529,50,075,53,691,811018,1
GMSethuraman S.P.IND26135,5258927,530,50,075,53,921,581015,8
GMGupta AbhijeetIND26065,5254825,528,00,075,54,291,211012,1
GMFirouzja AlirezaIRI26825,0258028,031,00,0754,600,40104,0
GMLe Quang LiemVIE26945,0255224,527,50,0754,930,07100,7
GMVidit Santosh GujrathiIND27075,0253823,526,00,0755,12-0,1210-1,2
GMJumabayev RinatKAZ26255,0251923,526,50,0754,610,39103,9
GMLiu YanCHN25044,5263727,529,50,074,52,711,791017,9
GMMaghsoodloo ParhamIRI26654,5256122,525,50,074,54,61-0,1110-1,1
GMLu ShangleiCHN26244,5254225,528,50,074,54,440,06100,6
GMNguyen Ngoc Truong SonVIE26394,5253721,023,50,074,54,56-0,0610-0,6
GMLalith Babu M RIND25714,5252124,027,00,074,54,120,38103,8
GMAdhiban B.IND26764,5251026,029,00,074,55,14-0,6410-6,4
GMNihal SarinIND26064,5250924,027,00,074,54,54-0,0410-0,4

Bhakti loses her lead in Women's Section

Bhakti Kulkarni suffered a blackout, blundered and was pushed to third spot | Photo:

In round 7 Bhakti Kulkarni suffered a bitter loss after committing a careless blunder against Irine Kharisma Sukandar. With this she has slipped to the third spot, a full point below Dinara Saduakassova and Irine Kharisma Sukandar who share the lead with 6/7. Let's see where Bhakti went wrong in today's game.

Bhakti Kulkarni - Irine Kharisma Sukandar, Round 7

Position after 32...Qd6

In the above position the game went 33.Ncxd5  Nxd5 34.Rxc8 Bxc8 and at this point Bhakti had a blind spot, she played 35.Nxd5 - a blunder - 35...Bb7 wins the d5 knight!

Results of round 7

Bo.No. NameRtgPts. ResultPts. NameRtg No.
13WGMKulkarni Bhakti 23805 0 - 15 IMSukandar Irine Kharisma 23784
21IMSaduakassova Dinara 24585 1 - 04 WGMZhai Mo 23588
32IMMunguntuul Batkhuyag 24204 1 - 0 Li Xueyi 230512
45WFMMunkhzul Turmunkh 23714 1 - 0 IMKaravade Eesha 23706
57IMPham Le Thao Nguyen 2370 1 - 0 WGMGomes Mary Ann 231411
614WFMLi Yunshan 2264 1 - 0 WGMVo Thi Kim Phung 233710
713WGMHoang Thi Bao Tram 2293 ½ - ½ Ren Xiaoyi 225516
817WIMDauletova Gulmira 2252 ½ - ½3 WIMMahalakshmi M 224518
99WGMVaishali R 23383 1 - 03 IMMohota Nisha 223619
1015WGMKurbonboeva Sarvinoz 22593 1 - 03 WIMGu Tianlu 218323
1120Zhang Xiao 22343 1 - 0 WFMMendoza Shania Mae 217124
1222WIMWang Doudou 2188 0 - 1 WIMSan Diego Marie Antoinette 208029
1325WIMPham Bich Ngoc 2167 ½ - ½ WIMGalas Bernadette 207331
1432WFMTan Li Ting 2066 ½ - ½ WGMKiran Manisha Mohanty 209028
1530WFMMahdian Anousha 20782 ½ - ½2 WGMSwati Ghate 222021
1634Xia Ri Feng 19912 0 - 12 Yan Tianqi 203633
1736WCMKojima Natsumi 1711 0 - 12 WGMFrayna Janelle Mae 215726
1827WIMMordido Kylen Joy 2133 1 - 00 WIMHamid Rani 192935

Standings after round 7

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 nwwew-weKrtg+/-
IMSaduakassova DinaraKAZ24586,0233626,529,50,0764,761,241012,4
IMSukandar Irine KharismaINA23786,0232927,530,00,0764,161,841018,4
WGMKulkarni BhaktiIND23805,0232328,030,50,0754,160,842016,8
WFMMunkhzul TurmunkhMGL23715,0229022,525,00,0754,400,602012,0
IMMunguntuul BatkhuyagMGL24205,0223522,024,50,0755,26-0,2610-2,6
Li XueyiCHN23054,5237229,532,00,074,53,251,252025,0
WFMLi YunshanCHN22644,5226324,527,50,074,53,750,754030,0
IMPham Le Thao NguyenVIE23704,5225821,524,00,074,54,74-0,2410-2,4
WGMKurbonboeva SarvinozUZB22594,0234126,029,00,0743,120,882017,6
WGMZhai MoCHN23584,0233127,030,00,0743,970,03100,3
Ren XiaoyiCHN22554,0232426,529,50,0632,450,552011,0
WIMDauletova GulmiraKAZ22524,0230423,023,00,0743,450,552011,0
Zhang XiaoCHN22344,0226122,024,50,0743,560,444017,6
WGMHoang Thi Bao TramVIE22934,0225222,025,00,0744,07-0,0710-0,7
WGMVaishali RIND23384,0224120,022,50,0744,55-0,5520-11,0
WGMVo Thi Kim PhungVIE23373,5233528,031,00,073,53,83-0,3310-3,3
WIMMahalakshmi MIND22453,5232726,528,00,073,53,250,25205,0
WIMSan Diego Marie AntoinettePHI20803,5227723,025,50,073,51,881,622032,4
IMKaravade EeshaIND23703,5226623,526,00,073,54,60-1,1010-11,0
WGMGomes Mary AnnIND23143,5223322,024,50,073,54,43-0,9310-9,3
WIMGu TianluCHN21833,0225724,026,50,0733,10-0,1020-2,0
WIMGalas BernadettePHI20733,0223619,021,50,0732,210,792015,8
WGMFrayna Janelle MaePHI21573,0220920,522,00,0733,54-0,5420-10,8
WFMTan Li TingMAS20663,0220620,022,50,0732,350,652013,0
WIMPham Bich NgocVIE21673,0219821,524,00,0733,50-0,5020-10,0
IMMohota NishaIND22363,0218421,524,00,0734,23-1,2310-12,3
WGMKiran Manisha MohantyIND20903,0217517,517,50,0733,25-0,2520-5,0
Yan TianqiCHN20363,0216718,518,50,0732,630,374014,8
WFMMendoza Shania MaePHI21712,5229824,027,00,072,52,69-0,1920-3,8
WFMMahdian AnoushaIRI20782,5219719,019,00,072,52,76-0,2640-10,4
WGMSwati GhateIND22202,5218822,023,50,072,54,17-1,6720-33,4
WIMWang DoudouCHN21882,5218121,523,00,072,53,99-1,4920-29,8
WIMMordido Kylen JoyPHI21332,5215518,018,00,072,53,74-1,2440-49,6
Xia Ri FengCHN19912,0217918,518,50,0621,990,01200,2
WCMKojima NatsumiJPN17111,5217217,017,00,071,50,710,792015,8
WIMHamid RaniBAN19290,0209717,519,00,0702,50-2,5020-50,0

Hats off to 74-year-old Rani Hamid, who is on zero points out of seven rounds but is fighting extremely hard in each game that she plays | Photo: