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Meet the 16-year-old Hari Madhavan who beat two Grandmasters in a row!

by Satanick Mukhuty - 22/09/2019

Last month a 16-year-old boy from Tamil Nadu created sensation by beating two Grandmasters back-to-back in the Tetrasoft Hyderabad GM Open. NB Hari Madhavan is currently studying in the 11th standard and has a rating of 2280. Born in 2003, he has been training in chess since six years of age at the well-known T Nagar Chess Academy run by A.L.Kasi and Srinivasa Rangan in Chennai. In this article we specifically look into the games where this talented youngster managed to outwit the two highly experienced and seasoned Grandmasters, namely Pavel Smirnov and Rodrigo Vásquez Schroder. We have analyses sent to us by Hari Madhavan himself, a lot to learn and be inspired from for any aspiring chess player.  

NB Hari Madhavan with his under-17 state championship trophy from 2-years ago | Photo: Srinivasa Rangan

The Tetrasoft Hyderabad Marriott Grandmaster Chess Tournament 2019 took place from the 20th to 27th of August in Marriott Hyderabad, Telangana. Even though the top spots in the event were all secured by foreign players, several young Indians pulled off eyeball grabbing performances. Perhaps the best among them all was the achievement of 16-year-old Hari Madhavan who managed to beat two experienced Grandmasters back-to-back in rounds seven and eight.

The podium finishers in the event (from left) were GM Boris Savchenko, GM Adam Tukhaev, and IM Muhammad Khusenkhojaev | Photo credit: chessdom & ChessBase India

Hari's seventh round opponent was the 37-year-old Grandmaster Pavel Smirnov of Russia. In this encounter he actually ended up in a worse position after misjudging his opponent's potential on the kingside and consequently giving away an exchange on move 19. But surprisingly, from twenty-sixth move onwards, the Russian player himself started blundering. Thus, first losing his initiative and then ultimately the game itself. Next, in round eight, it was the strong Chilean Grandmaster Rodrigo Vásquez Schroder who became Hari's casualty.

An overview of Hari Madhavan's performance.

Apart from beating two grandmasters in rounds seven and eight, he also held two higher-rated IMs to draw in the last two rounds scoring an unbeaten 7.5/10 in the event and gaining a whopping 58.4 Elo points! Without further ado, let us now get into the two defining games of his from the tournament.

Round 7: Outwitting the Russian Maestro with black pieces!

Pavel Smirnov is an undoubtedly strong GM with an elo rating of 2556 which few years ago peaked well above 2600s. Incidentally, he was also the second seed of the Tetrasoft GM tournament 2019 | Photo:

Hari Madhavan (right) in action against Pavel Smirnov | Photo:

Pavel Smirnov - Hari Madhavan, Round 7

White pushed 11.a4 a bit too early in the above position. This allows Black to expand on the queenside strongly with b4. The more popular continuations here are understandably 11.e4 and 11.Ne4

Position after 12...b4: The b5-b4 push is lodged firmly once White has himself committed to a2-a4 weakening the b3 and b4 squares.

Black played 18...Rfd8 in the above position but a more active way here would have been 18...Qh5!? with idea of going Nd7 followed by Nc5

Black was just fine in this position after 19.Bf4 but Hari misjudged White's potential here and thought e5 followed by Bg5 or Ng5 could turn into a dangerous attack. Apprehensive of these possibilities he ended up sacrificing an exchange with 19...Rxd3. The simple 19...Rac8 would have been much safer.

White stood clearly better here with 24.Qb5 ... Note, Black has back-rank issues to resolve and also Qxb5 isn't possible because after axb5 White gets a winning passed b-pawn.

The game followed 24...Qg6 25.Nh4? Qg4 and it was here with 26.Qxa5 that Smirnov's advantage was blown away, can you find the move that Hari spotted here?

26...g5 was played...this makes luft for the black king and also traps the h4 knight!

The best move for White to preserve the initiative would have been 25.Ra6! (instead of 26.Nh4) Now, for instance, after 25...Rc8 26.Ne1 h5 27.Rxa5 White gets a visibly better position with extra material. Even 25.Qg5 was a second alternative that Smirnov missed in the game!


Anyway, White could have still continued decently from the last diagram with something like 27.Qxb4 gxh4 28.f3 Bxf3 29.Qxg4+ Bxg4 etc but he made another abysmal move 27.Rd8+?? here and this titled the evaluation completely in Black's favour after 27...Kg7 28.h3 Rxa5 29.hxg4 gxh4

Black's minor pieces proved much superior to White's rook from this position. Hari played his moves quickly from here on as his opponent was very low in time and registered victory after sixty-four moves!

The full game with annotations by Hari himself is given below:

Round 8: Against Rodrigo Vásquez Schroder, a 37-move crush!

The Chilean GM Rodrigo Vásquez Schroder took some pretty dubious risks in his encounter against Hari and ended up being the Indian youngster's second casualty | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Hari Madhavan - Rodrigo Vásquez Schroder, Round 8

The game started with 1.Nf3 but soon transposed into the exchange Slav

And after 7...f6 8.Bg3 e5! Black equalized easily.

But 14...e4 and 15...f5 looked dubious as it boxed the e6 bishop in. 

18...g5 too looked a bit too committal and premature on Rodrigo's part. Can you find a logical way ahead for White from here?

Well, Hari calmly maneuvered his king to c1 where it would be absolutely safe. White could now think of opening up more lines on the kingside and play full-fledged on the semi-open h-file.

White, at this point, seized the winning initiative with 28.g4! All he needed now was to switch the queen over to the kingside.

This plan was realized in the next three moves and not long after Black was compelled to resign!

These games show the amount of potential even the untitled players in the country have. Hari is not able to travel much for tournaments due to his economic condition but he aways dreams to become the World Champion one day. His coaches at T Nagar Chess academy are proud of his achievements.

Top 10 standings after the final round of the event

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4  TB5 
GMSavchenko BorisRUS2576Russia8,01,059,563,050,507
GMTukhaev AdamUKR2541Ukraine8,00,060,565,051,007
IMKhusenkhojaev MuhammadTJK2442Tajikishtan7,50,063,066,548,005
IMTriapishko AlexandrRUS2519Russia7,50,059,565,547,256
Sahoo Utkal RanjanIND2278Odisha - India7,50,058,563,545,506
GMLaxman R.R.IND2426ICF7,50,057,560,041,756
Hari Madhavan N BIND2231Tamil Nadu - India7,50,053,557,041,755
Kaustuv KunduIND2295West Bengal - India7,50,052,556,541,256
GMMosadeghpour MasoudIRI2509Iran7,00,060,566,043,505
IMRaja Rithvik RIND2364Telangana - India7,00,058,062,541,006

We are grateful to coach Srinivasa Rangan for sending us all the relevant informations and material for this article.

Related news:
Boris Savchenko registers second consecutive tournament victory this month

@ 28/08/2019 by Satanick Mukhuty (en)