Pragg stands on top of “Chessworld”
The response for the first ChessBase India Saturday online blitz was huge! We had 191 participants with 16 GMs, 24 IMs, 3 WGMs and 3 WIMs participating from 12 countries! It was the biggest ever online tournament held at ChessBase India. GM R. Praggnanandhaa won the event taking home not just Rs.5000 but also valuable 10 Grand Prix points. GM Elshan Moradiabadi, who was one of the participants at the event, played from USA and had a great time fighting it out against some of the talented Indian youngsters. He writes this article sharing with you his experience of playing in this blitz event! Mind you, this weekend we have two more blitz events coming up - the second edition of Saturday online blitz on 28th March and the March Masters event on 29th March which has a prize fund of Rs.50,000!
Praggnanandhaa wins the biggest ChessBase India Online Blitz tournament
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the chess world is experiencing a long pause in over the board events. Except for the FIDE Candidates, which is taking place in Russia right now, almost all of the other major open, scholastic, and invitational events have been either canceled or delayed. With most of the major sport events canceled or indefinitely postponed, the question comes in mind is not when we see these sportsman in action, but would these guys manage to maintain their form and be able to bring their A games when the pandemic is over?
While a basketball player will have a hard time to find a way maintaining his/her shape during these trying times, chess players have ample amount of resources to hone skills and sharpness once the safety of societies retrieved, thanks to the emergence of online chess in the last decade. In fact the following ironic meme about social distancing, shared by GM Hossain Enamul from Bangeladesh, very well explains that chess players have less difficulties compared to other sports (we surely do consider chess a sport).
So, what should a chess player do? Test his skills against a strong field in an online serious event. What did we have in the store? As the ChessBase India Facebook page reported: “Total of 191 players including 16 GMs, 24 IMs, 3 WGMs and 3 WIMs participated from India, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Colombia, England, Iran, Ireland, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Singapore and USA making it the biggest ChessBase Online Blitz event ever.”
While the predominant number of titled players were Indian, the top two seeds were seasoned blitz players from neighboring countries: GM Gadir Guseinov from Azerbaijan, and GM Zaven Andriasian from Armenia. Although online rating on any online arena doesn’t make one a favorite unlike over the board events, the fact that these guys were out of the ‘fun for the money’ as early as round six, shows how underrated the rest of field were. For instance, the final winner, Praggnanandhaa gained about 100 rating points throughout the event.
After Praggnanandhaa, who scored 8.0/9, three players tied for second with 7.5/9: GM Diptayan Ghosh, FM S Rohith Krishna and IM Aronyak Ghosh finished 2nd to 4th respectively.
Being a regular on playchess from its early days of establishment, I could say that the tournament was conducted in a timely manner, and the absence of increment just made it more thrilling. Here are some of the fine moments of the event which was exciting, fun, and refreshing
He won’t forget your ID
Those who have spent enough time on Playchess would know that GM R R Laxman is a legend on Playchess. You might ask, what makes him a legend. Well, you cannot find the answer by simply ‘Google-ing’ or asking your veteran chess fellows. Laxman might have played the most number of games on Playchess, yet there is something more mind-boggling about him: It seems that he is always online!
Your author himself have played against Laxman over one thousand times (yes you saw it correctly!) on Playchess. I daresay the number should be around two thousands, but I cannot be sure unless I manage to retrieve data from 2005 onward! Laxman is very fast and particularly strong in the games without increment. He also will always remember your ID. Here is the story:
I started playing against Laxman in 2005, later in 2006 I saw his name on a list of players at the Aeroflot Open. I thought it is appropriate to go and introduce myself since we were spending ample amount of time playing against each other without chatting much. So, I found his board and when he was walking around I approached him and whispered “Hi, I am Elshan from Iran. We played a lot against each other on Playchess”, he just stared at me. He just paused and looked at me, after a few seconds of silence he just said: “ID?”, I said “Defence” then he smiled and offered a handshake and said: “Oh hi!”.
After a long time, we finally again played in this tournament against each other, while I was gradually outplaying Laxman, he started his tricks as usual in my severe time pressure, the end of the game doesn’t disappoint you for a blitz game:
Moradiabadi - Laxman, Round 5
At this point I had 30 seconds less than Laxman. 29...Rxd5! Luckily I had seen this move, so it didn't come as a surprise.
Here I have less than 30 seconds on the clock and I tried to simplify the game, but I forgot something. 37.Qd8?! Funny it is still winning 37...Qxc1+?? I forgot that the capture is with a check! But this actually loses faster! 38.Kh2 Now black is helpless against the mating threats.
A hot Streak ended with a cold feet
GM Diptayan Ghosh was in a fantastic form in this tournament. He won his first six games and was the sole leader after the sixth round. His path, however, was far from an easy cruise. In fact, he had problems as early as round one:
Diptayan - Rohit S, Round 1
White has all the elements for a solid advantage. Good center, active pieces and black's a-pawn. However, such factors only play a role when one has ample amount of time on the clock. The decisive factors in here are: No loose piece and cohesion among the pieces. Diptayan makes the first mistake but not the last one! 28.Be1? hanging a pawn.
Yet despite expected lapses Diptayan remained effective and kept winning his games one after another, he also showed signs of positional brilliancy, like the following game:
Praveen - Diptayan, Round 3
25...Bc8! Improving black's worst piece. This Bishop is heading to a6. 26.a6 [26.Qe2 Rb5] 26...h5!? [26...Rb5 was more decisive.]
After six wins in an open tournament, what a seasoned GM would do is drawing his remaining games to secure a tie for the first. However, things don’t exactly work that way in Blitz. Things started to become more difficult for the GM from West Bengal. His topsy turvy game against the eventual winner, Praggnanandhaa proved that six wins in a row is no guarantee to win a blitz tournament.
Praggnanandhaa - Diptayan, Round 7
24...Bxd5? Diptayan offers a draw. Bad move and a bad decision. Obviously when you are ahead in points, it is normal for your opponents to decline a draw if they see you playing passively. In any case, taking on d5 is not a good move. Black should have moved his queen. 24...Qb8 25.Bb3 Re8 26.Qc2 Nd7 27.Re1 Nf8 28.Re2 Ng6 29.Rae1 Nf4 And black is positionally dominant because the bishop on b3 is out of the game.
Round eight was the best chance for Diptayan to maintain his lead, but he didn’t make a use of his white pieces against his lower-rated opponent former National Blitz Champion IM D K Sharma and the game ended in a draw upon his draw offer in a losing position. This time, the draw offer was timely!
Diptayan - D K Sharma, Round 8
In the last round, Diptayan faced your author who had half a point less than him. The ‘old fox’ (my nickname among my Iranian friends) tagged along the young lions and held his ground except for a very bad game against GM Visakh. Diptayan started bad and he was losing, then the game was equal after numerous mistakes, and Diptayan offered a draw. I rejected and ended up being 25 seconds down on time and a pawn down. The final phase is quite bewildering:
Moradiabadi - Diptayan, Round 9
Consistency - Pragg's key to success
We saved the best for the last. Praggnanandhaa’s level and class in over the board chess is well-established. However, he has not had same online presence in the past. This may be his first of many online tournament victories. His key to success was his consistent play, good time management, and practical decisions. Look at the following two rook endings of his in this tournament, and try to learn from them.
First, let us look at an instructive endgame from his game against the top seed Gadir Guseinov.
Guseinov - Praggnanandhaa, Round 5
73.g5?? hxg5?? No time to calculate, it is all muscle-reflex and no calculation. 73...Rxh4 74.Kf5 Rh5 75.Rg6 Rh1-+
77...Rh5?? [77...Rg1! Taking away white's only chance, which is the frontal check. 78.Ke5 Kg5 79.Ke4 Kg4 -+ and black is easily winning. White does not have either lateral or front check in order to defend himself.]
80...Rf6+?? throws away the win. 80...g6 81.Rh2+ Kg7 82.Rg2 Ra5! Black needs to cut white's king from the rank and not the file! This is necessary in order to avoid lateral checks and then black's king can support his g-pawn forward. 83.Rg1 g5 84.Rf1 Kg6 -+
His last round victory against Visakh had its own nuances as well:
Praggnanandhaa - Visakh, Round 9
So the victory goes to Praggnanandhaa.
One can just play the event for the cash prize and move on, or just try to have fun. However, if you happen to know that you are not going to play any over the board event for a long time, you need to take these games seriously and try to make the most out of them. For instance, Praggnanandhaa’s endgames had a lot to learn from. I am sure he already had them figured out!
How to have a method of making use of online games requires a separate article, for now I just would like to give a shout out to ChessBase India for this event and invite you to join us next Saturday!
About the Author
Elshan Moradiabadi is a GM born and raised in Tehran, Iran. He moved to the US in 2012. Ever since, he has been active in US college chess scenes and in US chess. Elshan co-authored "Chess and the Art of War: Ancient Wisdom to Make You a Better Player" with Al Lawrence. He has also published written articles for ChessBase, and edited opening materials for fellow authors. Elshan Moradiabadi is a veteran instructor and teaches chess to every level, with students ranging from beginners to IM. He can be contacted for projects or teaching at his email: elshan.moradiabadi(at)gmail.com
What are the tournaments you can play this weekend on Playchess?
ChessBase India is organizing two events this weekend. On Saturday we have the 2nd Saturday online blitz tournament with a prize fund of Rs.10,000. While on Sunday we have the March Masters Online Blitz with a prize fund of Rs.50,000! Let's first talk about the Saturday event:
2nd Saturday Online Blitz event
On 28th of March at 8 p.m. we will have the second event in the Saturday online blitz tournaments. We already have several top players registered for the same and their names can be found here
The entry of the tournament is only open to ChessBase Account Premium users. If you have a ChessBase Premium Account then the entry is completely free for you. How to participate in the tournament? Buy a premium ChessBase Account from the options given below and then fill in the google form and you are good to go!
Registration is Open (Read carefully before filling up the form)
Details of the online tournament:
The entry fee for the event is FREE. However you need to have a ChessBase Premium Account to be eligible to participate. Please make sure that your account is valid beyond 28th March 2020, else the room and the tournament director will decline your entry. If you do not have a premium account, get one from below. You will receive a serial key and the steps to make your account premium in your email address. Make your account premium and then register through the google form given below. The last date for entry is 27th of March 2020 until 8 p.m. IST
You can also go for ChessBase 15, as that comes with free 3 months of ChessBase Premium Account!
Total circuit points
For each tournament these are the points that you will receive:
At the end of the five events the points will be added and the one who comes out on top with the maximum cumulative points gets a special prize of Rs.10,000. So you have the possibility to win in all Rs.35,000 in all of the five tournaments combined.
For registration queries contact:
Mr. Shahid Ahmed (Tournament director) - 9038139510
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
March Masters Online Blitz on 29th of March
The "March Masters Online Blitz" will have a total prize fund of ₹50000. And why do we call it in association with GM Laxman Rajaram? Because GM Laxman has contributed ₹15000 in the total prize fund, the tournament will have no limit of participants and entry is free for GMs, IMs, WGMs and WIMs. For everyone else there are two types of entries - Premium and Non-Premium ChessBase Account holders. For ChessBase Premium Account subscribers the entry fee will be ₹300, for non-Premium subscribers the entry fee will be ₹600. The tournament will take place on 29th March at 8 p.m. IST.
So far we have 5 GMs, 10 IMs and a WGM confirming their participation. GMs, IMs, WGMs and WIMs just need to write to us at email@example.com mentioning their FIDE and Playchess ID to confirm their participation.
ChessBase India presents March Masters Blitz Tournament in association with GM Laxman Rajaram will take place on Sunday 29th March 2020 at 8 p.m. IST. Entry fee for the tournament is FREE for GMs, IMs, WGMs and WIMs. For other ChessBase Premium Account subscribers the entry fee will be ₹300, for non-Premium subscribers the entry fee will be ₹600.
"I am indeed elated to see the advertisement of the forthcoming five online chess events starting from 21st March this month. Due to the recent scare given by the Corona virus all over the globe, we have been strictly advised to curtail any form of unnecessary travel. Hence the online events hold much more importance and prominence for the time being.
I am making a humble contribution of ₹15000 towards the organisation of a Mega-blitz event at playchess.com on the 29th of this month. It is my ardent desire to make the event a cherished and memorable one by inviting elite players in India which might make the online events lucrative.
Since I am very attached to online chess more than chess over the board, my intention is to build a pedestal and platform for other chess promoters to contribute their mite towards the good cause of organising online events especially at playchess.com where I love to log in and play on a regular basis. By hindsight, I am sure that this might help Indian chess in the long run."
- 17th March, GM R.R. Laxman, Chennai
Details of the online tournament:
20th, 30th, 40th, 50th and 60th will receive ₹1000 each.
To be eligible for lucky prize, one must play all nine rounds.
The entry fee for the event is ₹300 for ChessBase Premium Account Subscribers and ₹600 for Non-Premium Account Subscribers. The tournament is FREE for GMs, IMs, WGMs and WIMs. The last date for entry is 28th of March 2020 3 p.m. IST
All those who would like to play in the tournament must fill in the entry form in the two buttons given below. Titled players must write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
For ChessBase Premium Account subscribers: (It might be a good idea to get the ChessBase Account Premium Membership and play the tournament on 28th of free and save Rs.300 in this event!)
For Non-ChessBase Premium Account subscribers:
For registration queries:
Mr. Shahid Ahmed (Tournament director) - 9038139510
Email - email@example.com
• We request all players to check their internet connection before the tournament. Minimum requirement is at least 2 mbps. No phone calls/messages will be entertained once the tournament starts from 8 p.m. IST onwards. All queries must be resolved before the tournament.
List of players:
|GM Gukesh D
|GM Diptayan Ghosh
|GM Bilel Bellahcene
|IM Krishna C R G
|IM Leon Luke Mendonca
|IM Mitrabha Guha
|IM Aronyak Ghosh
|GM Neelotpal Das
|FM L R Srihari
|IM Neelash Saha
|IM Sammed Shete
|GM Laxman Rajaram
|IM Kushager Krishnater
|IM Krishna Teja N
|WGM Leya Garifullina
|IM Anuj Shrivatri
|IM P D S Girinath
|FM Dushyant Sharma
|FM C J Arvind
|Sarvesh Kumar A
|Swara Lakshmi S Nair
|Rahul Anil Bhagwat