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Last seed Eesha Karavade is the best performing Indian at the Aeroflot Open 2018

by Niklesh Jain - 23/02/2018

This is one of the biggest Indian contingent ever witnessed at the Aeroflot Open 2018. We have 16 players in the A group, 37 in the B group and 11 in the C. It comes to a total of 64 players! Of course, a lot of Indians get paired against each other, but that is just the part of the deal. After the initial three rounds a very surprising super performer for team India has emerged - IM Eesha Karavade! She is the last seed in the A group, but has scored 2.0/3 and is currently placed 13th, the highest rank by an Indian ahead of Vidit, Sasikiran, Sethu and the others! In the B group we have Nubairshah Sheikh who is on 3.0/3 and in the C group it is Kumar Gaurav on 100% score. Report from Moscow by Niklesh Jain.  

The A category of the Aeroflot Open 2018 is reserved for only the strongest chess players in the world. The prospectus of the tournament mentions that all players above the rating of 2550 can participate in the A group. When the tournament begins, they do make some exceptions and allow some of the players below 2550 to take part as well. For example there are 92 players and 52 of them are 2550+. Naturally for those below 2500 this is a great learning platform. Eesha Karavade with a rating of 2386 is the lowest rated player in the tournament. In fact the second last seed has an Elo of 2446, which makes her the last seed by quite some margin.


It could be assumed that she would have a very tough time at the event, especially because she would be facing a GM in almost all the rounds that she plays. True, it would be a learning experience, but then losing a lot of games is never fun! But Eesha is showing what a tremendous player she is in this tournament, by being the highest ranked Indian after three rounds. She has scored 2.0/3 with win over GM Amin Tabatabaei, and draws against GM Vidit Gujrathi and GM Wen Yang. With this she has reached the 13th position in the standings which is much higher than all our top ranked Indian GMs including Vidit, Sasikiran, Sethuraman and others!

Eesha Karavade proving to the world that her participation in the A group is by no means just an experience gaining expedition

Here are two games of Eesha. The first one is the draw against Vidit and the second is against the strong Chinese GM Wen Yang

GM Vidit Gujrathi has found the event to be quite tough for himself. He has three draws out of three rounds and is already losing seven Elo points. For a 2723 player such tournaments are quite unforgiving, you either win, or you keep bleeding.
Vidit during his third round draw against GM Manuel Petrosyan
Vidit speaks about his draw in the first round against S.L. Narayanan
S.L. Narayanan on being slightly better in the final position against Vidit

Sethuraman started off well with two wins in two rounds, but in the third one he slumped to a defeat against GM Tigran Petrosian

Earlier in the second round Sethu had scored a nice win over Kaido Kulaots in the Dragon Variation of the Sicilian. Here's what he had to say about the game in the post-game interview:

Sethuraman discusses his victory over Kaido Kulaots

Sasikiran has not lost a game yet, but he hasn't won a game either - 1.5/3

Nihal had inferior positions against Sasikiran and Inarkiev, but he managed to wriggle out of the mess in both the games to remain unbeaten

R. Praggnanandhaa has 1.0/3. It's still possible that he can score a GM norm here, but it is almost certain that he cannot break Karjakin's record because he has to make two GM norms and his next tournament is the Reykjavik Open which ends after the world record threshold date.

Viktor Bologan is the leader in the A-group along with GM Tigran Petrosian with 3.0/3. In the third round Bologan played a beautiful game to beat Anton Korobov

Indian performance at Group A

2GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi2723IND½½½1,560Open A
11GMSasikiran Krishnan2671IND½½½1,538Open A
15GMSethuraman S.P.2646IND1102,015Open A
25GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr.2617IND½1½2,018Open A
36GMGupta Abhijeet2598IND½100000001,566Open A
43GMKarthikeyan Murali2585IND1012,019Open A
48GMNarayanan.S.L2573IND½011,529Open A
57IMNihal Sarin2532IND½½½1,551Open A
67GMAryan Chopra2509IND½1½2,020Open A
68IMPraggnanandhaa R2507IND½0½1,069Open A
70GMDebashis Das2501IND½000,584Open A
72GMGagare Shardul2494IND½011,534Open A
87IMIniyan P2460IND½½01,078Open A
88FMErigaisi Arjun2458IND½011,557Open A
91IMRaja Harshit2448IND½½½1,558Open A
92IMKaravade Eesha2386IND1½½2,013Open A

B group

Nubairshah Sheikh continues his fine form in the past few months and is leading the B-group with 3.0/3

GM Abhijit Kunte is rock solid as usual and is on 2.0/3

2.0/3 for our four-time National Champion Padmini Rout

Mary Ann Gomes has found the going tough and is on 0.5/3

Fenil Shah already has 2 IM norms and with 1.5/3 has good chances to make his third one here

Gukesh, who did really well at the Moscow Open and scored an IM norm, has been found slacking a bit and is on 0.5/3. He is sure to make a comeback.

A brave decision by Divya Deshmukh is to play in the B-group instead of C. She is on 0.5/3 but has already learned a lot.

Overview of Indian performances in B group 

5GMKunte Abhijit2499IND½½12,024Open B
20IMHarsha Bharathakoti2443IND1001,0102Open B
26GMSundararajan Kidambi2427IND1½½2,044Open B
36IMMohammad Nubairshah Shaikh2413IND1113,05Open B
39Rahul Srivatshav P2408IND0112,028Open B
53IMKrishna Teja N2371IND½112,512Open B
54IMAbhishek Kelkar2370IND1012,048Open B
63WGMSoumya Swaminathan2349IND1½½2,021Open B
67FMFenil Shah2346IND½011,552Open B
69WIMVaishali R2342IND0101,077Open B
71FMSadhwani Raunak2339IND½½12,019Open B
75WGMGomes Mary Ann2329IND½000,5106Open B
76IMPadmini Rout2325IND1½½2,033Open B
77Muthaiah Al2325IND01½1,554Open B
79IMKathmale Sameer2320IND0½00,5115Open B
80CMGukesh D2320IND½000,5118Open B
85Raahul V S2305IND00½0,5116Open B
86FMMitrabha Guha2303IND1102,035Open B
90Pranav V2284IND0101,093Open B
92WIMMonnisha G K2281IND0011,098Open B
95Navalgund Niranjan2270IND00½0,5107Open B
96FMAnand Nadar2262IND½½01,095Open B
100IMMohota Nisha2256IND1001,099Open B
101WIMMahalakshmi M2252IND0½½1,081Open B
102FMShailesh Dravid2246IND1102,036Open B
103WIMNandhidhaa Pv2241IND0½00,5111Open B
107IMPraveen Kumar C2228IND0½11,556Open B
108FMRaja Rithvik R2227IND1001,097Open B
109Moksh Amit Doshi2221IND½011,558Open B
110Kulkarni Chinmay2215IND00½0,5110Open B
114CMAditya Mittal2206IND1½01,566Open B
116Manush Shah2202IND½1½2,037Open B
121WIMPujari Rucha2171IND0101,0101Open B
122Narendran Gouthaman2165IND0½00,5122Open B
124WFMDivya Deshmukh2138IND00½0,5112Open B
125Pranav Anand2024IND½0½1,084Open B
126WIMGagare Shalmali2001IND01½1,568Open B


Overview of Indian performance in C group 

Kumar Gaurav is leading the event with 3.0/3.

19Kulkarni Chinmay2215IND1102,015Open C
25WIMPujari Rucha2171IND1102,031Open C
29Prasannaa.S2158IND1012,034Open C
34WFMLasya.G2119IND1012,019Open C
36Kumar Gaurav2116IND1113,02Open C
40WFMJishitha D2099IND1½01,539Open C
49CMMendonca Leon Luke1993IND½011,547Open C
50Harshita Guddanti1986IND0112,023Open C
52Rakshitta Ravi1973IND0112,024Open C
55WFMMeghna C H1946IND0101,067Open C
56WFMLakshmi C1930IND0101,058Open C

Life of a journalist. First of to arrive, last one to leave! But, hey! I am not complaining. It's a joy to see so many Indians play and learn at one of the strongest tournaments in the world. I will continued my detailed coverage of the event. Yours truly Niklesh Jain.

Video reports Round one:

Round two:

Round three:


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