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Karpov Trophy 2019: Nihal Sarin's emphatic victory against Sara Khadem

by Satanick Mukhuty - 30/10/2019

Amin Bassem and Alexey Sarana both lost one game each in rounds twelve and thirteen of the ongoing Anatoly Karpov Trophy 2019 to slip down the leaderboard. Nihal Sarin, on the other hand, kept up his steady form and emerged as the sole second with 8.5/13 points. In the twelfth round Nihal registered a crushing victory against the Iranian player Sara Khadem with white pieces and drew his next encounter confidently against Alexey Sarana playing black. Overall, Etienne Bacrot is still leading the field with 9.0/13 points and it remains to be seen if the Indian phenom can catch up with him in the last remaining round before the knockout semi-finals of the event begin. In this illustrated article we show you the critical moments from Nihal's twelfth round victory and also give you the next round pairings.

The various moods of Nihal on Tuesday during rounds 12 and 13 | Photo: Pierre Textoris

The Iranian International Master Sarasadat Khademalsharieh had the black pieces in the twelfth round against India's Nihal Sarin. The game started off with the Classical Nimzo-Indian and reached equality out of the opening but Black's position was slightly passive and she had issues with developing her light-squared bishop. Nihal exploited just this fact and played on actively to keep his opponent on a tiger leash. Sara did break free eventually but had to give up substantial material in the process, thus after move 27 it was just a matter of technical conversion for the Indian player.

 

Nihal Sarin - Sara Khadem, Round 12

The position above was reached after 14.Qe2. Black is solid but has to find a way to develop the c8 bishop.

The game followed 14...Nd7 15.Bf4 Nxe5 16.Bxe5 Bd6 17.Rfe1 Bxe5 18.Qxe5 with a series of exchanges and this is where the critical position was reached. The most active plan for Black here would have been 18...Qxc4 19.Reb1 a5 with ideas of developing the c8 bishop later via b7 but Sara erred here by going for queen exchange with 18...Qxe5 19.Rxe5

Position after 19.Rxe5: White is clearly better here with his excellently placed bishop on g2, Black on the other hand is yet to develop her c8 bishop.

21...g6 was another mistake that allowed Rc7 in the very next move, instead 21...Rd7 would have been more resilient.

Next, as White took control of the d-file as well with 23.Rd1! Black's hope to redeem the c8 bishop was gone.

Black had to let go of her bishop at this point and after 23...Kg7 24.Rd8 Rc1+ 25.Bf1 Ra1 26.Rcxc8 Rxc8 27.Rxc8 the rest was a technical task for Nihal. The Iranian fought on for 67 moves before calling it a day.

Black made a passer on the queenside but White didn't really have much difficulty stopping it with his extra piece.

Nihal made a confident draw in the next round with black pieces against Alexey Sarana. The Russian GM chose the Queen's Gambit Declined, against which the Indian adopted the Ragozin. The players reached an even position out of the opening and agreed to repetition on move 23. Nihal faces the strong Egyptian GM Amin Bassem in round 14 and will be playing with White.

Results of previous rounds

Round 12
Bo.No.RtgNameResultNameRtgNo.
182452GMSebag Marie0 - 1GMBacrot Etienne26713
222381IMPaehtz Elisabeth½ - ½GMHou Yifan26074
312285GMNihal Sarin1 - 0IMKhademalsharieh Sarasadat24215
472633GMAmin Bassem1 - 0GMSarana Alexey26286
Round 13
Bo.No.RtgNameResultNameRtgNo.
172633GMAmin Bassem0 - 1GMSebag Marie24528
262628GMSarana Alexey½ - ½GMNihal Sarin22851
352421IMKhademalsharieh Sarasadat½ - ½IMPaehtz Elisabeth23812
442607GMHou Yifan½ - ½GMBacrot Etienne26713

Pairing for the next round

Bo.No.RtgNameResultNameRtgNo.
182452GMSebag MarieGMHou Yifan26074
232671GMBacrot EtienneIMKhademalsharieh Sarasadat24215
322381IMPaehtz ElisabethGMSarana Alexey26286
412285GMNihal SarinGMAmin Bassem26337

Standings after thirteen rounds

Rk.SNoNameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
13GMBacrot EtienneFRA26719,056,250,07
21GMNihal SarinIND22858,548,250,05
37GMAmin BassemEGY26338,045,000,06
46GMSarana AlexeyRUS26287,540,000,05
54GMHou YifanCHN26076,036,750,03
62IMPaehtz ElisabethGER23816,034,000,03
78GMSebag MarieFRA24525,527,250,05
85IMKhademalsharieh SarasadatIRI24211,510,500,00

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