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An overview of Indian performances at the World Rapid 2019

by Satanick Mukhuty - 29/12/2019

The Indian contingent failed to win any medals in the open section of the World Rapid Championship but that said many of the performances did reflect the bright hopes that the country has in the game of chess. Even though the highest rated Indian Vidit Gujrathi failed to make an impression, many of the other players, including the three talented youngsters Gukesh D, Nihal Sarin, and Raunak Sadhwani, impressively pulled off 2600+ performances. And among the more experienced players Surya Sekhar Ganguly and Adhiban Baskaran too performed commendably well. In this article we bring you a brief overview.  

One of the best Indian performers on the second day of King Salman Rapid 2019 turned out to be the young Gukesh D. The 13-year-old prodigy started off as the last seed in the event but managed a creditable 66th place finish with a score of 8.5/15 clinching 4.5 points in the last five rounds alone. Gukesh stole the limelight by beating the experienced Krishnan Sasikiran in the fifteenth and final round and pulling ahead of other talented contenders like Nihal Sarin and Aravindh Chithambaram by half a point.

The event's first day wasn't the most ideal for Gukesh but the youngster is quick to recover from losses! | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Surya Sekhar Ganguly was the other most important performer of the day. The Grandmaster from Bengal lost his final round game against Levon Aronian but before that made an impression by beating Alexei Shirov in round fourteen with the white pieces. Ganguly managed to pick a pawn as early as move 12 out of an Italian opening and then showed impeccable technique to convert his extra pawn on the queenside. The famed Latvian player fought on for 59 moves before calling it a day.

Ganguly finished highest placed among the Indians with a respectable score of 9.0/15 points | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Along with Surya Sekhar Ganguly, Adhiban Baskaran too scored 9.0/15 but he was placed below in the rank-list based on tiebreak. Adhiban stayed true to his aggressive style throughout the event and made very few draws but lost five games. The 27-year-old Grandmaster however finished on a high note by beating Maksim Chigaev in the final round.

Adhiban gained about 17 rapid Elo points from his performance in this event which he can be fairly happy about | Photo: David Llada 

Nihal Sarin had very little experience of playing rapid tournaments and entered the event with a rapid rating of only 2292 but after fifteen rounds he is already gaining around 126 points. Performing at 2662, the fifteen-year-old pulled off quite a few upsets by beating strong players like Eduardo Iturrizaga and Ahmed Adly, and drawing against Rauf Mamedov and even his highest rated compatriot Vidit Gujrathi. The 15-year-old wunderkind finally held the Egyptian super-GM Amin Bassem to a draw in the last round and finished his campaign with a praiseworthy score of 8.0/15 points.

Nihal will certainly take back home tons of experience from this event | Photo: Lennart Ootes 

An overview of Nihal Sarin's performance.

Aravindh Chithambaram also finished with 8.0/15 and proved his mettle by holding his own against many an elite GM. The triple-crown champion of the country and the winner of National Senior Championship, stunned everyone on the very first day by beating the legendary Boris Gelfand and then went on to win several other important encounters against players like Rauf Mamedov, Aleksandr Shimanov, Bartosz Soćko etc.

Aravindh Chithambaram too gained a substantial 73.4 Elo points from the event | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Raunak Sadhwani played the World Rapid for the first time and scored a decent 7.5/15 points. The event proved quite fruitful for him rating wise as he gained 95.8 Elo points and maintained a formidable 2600+ performance throughout. The other two players who pulled off 2600+ performances were Vishnu Prasanna and Sethuraman SP. On the other hand, Vidit Gujrathi and Krishnan Sasikiran had a forgettable event, they scored 8.5/15 and 7.5/15 respectively and lost quite a bit of rating points. 

Vidit started as the highest rated player among the Indians but sadly failed to live up to the expectations | Photo: Lennart Ootes

In the women section both Harika Dronavalli and Koneru Humpy kept the country's medal hopes alive till the very end. Though the former lost her encounter against Ekaterina Atalik in the tenth round of the event, Koneru Humpy made the most out of her chances to not only win a medal but become the World Rapid champion herself. 

What a comeback it has been for Humpy this year | Photo: Lennart Ootes

This was the biggest result for Indians in the event and a big moment for Indian chess too. Humpy scored 9.0/12 and was tied for the top spot along with Lei Tingjie of China and Ekaterina Atalik of Turkey. As Humpy and Lei Tingjie had the best tiebreak score, the winner among them had to be decided with a blitz play-off. It was two games of 3+2 blitz and in case of a tie, the match would go into an Armageddon. In what was quite a dramatic turn of events Humpy first lost game one with the white pieces but then bounced back from a must-win situation to return the favour in the second game. The match then went into the Armageddon phase where Humpy had the black pieces and a draw was enough for her to win the title. The 32-year-old played some solid bit of chess to built up a winning position which finally led Lei Tingjie to repeat the position. Humpy was of course fine with the draw, she accepted it graciously and became the Women's World Rapid Champion 2019!

Overview of all Indian performances

48GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi2668½1½0½1½1½½½1½½08,560Rapid Open
72GMAdhiban B.2607011100111½01½019,045Rapid Open
81GMSasikiran Krishnan2601101½½½01001½½107,5104Rapid Open
91GMGanguly Surya Shekhar259210½1½½½½1½½½1109,040Rapid Open
111GMSethuraman S.P.2560½01½1½½½100½½½½7,597Rapid Open
130GMNarayanan Srinath2526½01½1001010½1017,5109Rapid Open
138GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr.25081½01110½10½½0½½8,067Rapid Open
164GMVishnu Prasanna. V24381001½010011½0118,090Rapid Open
170GMHarsha Bharathakoti24180110010½½01½½118,094Rapid Open
180IMSadhwani Raunak235801101½01½½½10½07,5105Rapid Open
189GMNihal Sarin229210½1101½½½01½0½8,070Rapid Open
207GMGukesh D17991½00½001101½1118,566Rapid Open
13GMKoneru Humpy24381½1110½1½½119,01Rapid Women
16GMHarika Dronavalli24251½11½1½½½0½18,013Rapid Women
14GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi27561½11½½111½½8,54Blitz Open
35GMNihal Sarin26850½10½11011½6,568Blitz Open
70GMAdhiban B.2612½110½0½10116,564Blitz Open
81GMSasikiran Krishnan2601110½00011116,566Blitz Open
109GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr.25600110½1000014,5148Blitz Open
137GMVishnu Prasanna. V251611000010½0½4,0168Blitz Open
140GMGanguly Surya Shekhar25071001½110½016,079Blitz Open
145GMNarayanan Srinath25000½½0101½1004,5154Blitz Open
150IMSadhwani Raunak249010011½101005,5100Blitz Open
152GMHarsha Bharathakoti2488001½10001104,5145Blitz Open
158GMSethuraman S.P.2474110½01½10016,073Blitz Open
185GMGukesh D23600001011½1004,5159Blitz Open
5GMKoneru Humpy248911111½½107,03Blitz Women
10GMHarika Dronavalli244501½1111½½6,512

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