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Prague Open 2018: Raahul VS scores his second IM norm

by Prashant Mullick - 24/01/2018

The Czech Tour 2018 consists of 11 tournaments that will be held over the entire year. One of the biggest events of this tour is the Prague Open which was held in Prague, the capital city of Czech Republic, from the 10th to the 19th of January 2018. The tournament was organized in exemplary fashion by Jan Mazuch and his team. GM Milan Pacher of Slovakia won the tournament with a score of 7.5/9. The biggest achiever for India at this event was 15-year-old Raahul VS who scored his second IM norm. He gained 60 Elo points and finished fifth. In a must-win last round game he beat a 2437 opponent. We have video interviews, photographs and analysis from Prague by Prashant Mullick.

17th Prague Open: Milan Pacher wins, Raahul VS secures his 2nd IM Norm

61st seed makes an IM norm and finishes fifth - that's National Amateur champion Raahul VS for you | Photo: Prashant Mullick

14-year-old, Raahul VS, the 2016 Indian National Amateur Champion, was seeded 61st entering into the 17th Prague Open 2018. He was riding on the back of a powerful performance at the Sunway Sitges chess festival. At the Prague Open he had a tough start with a draw in the first round but backed it up with a series of wins including shock wins over fellow Indians, IM Akash Thakur and WGM Bhakti Kulkarni and 64-year-old Russian IM Kalegin Evgenij. At the end of round 7, Raahul was creating a sensation in the tournament by out-ranking several higher rated players and in the joint first position.

 

In the 8th round, Raahul met fellow board leader, GM Pacher Milan in a game that saw several turns of fortune where each player made attacking advances mixed with sub-optimal moves.

GM Milan found a nice tactic in the 19th move temporarily sacrificing his knight on h6 to spoil Raahul’s kingside pawn structure. This was followed by a blistering queen attack aided by a bishop pair on the weakened king. Milan had several chances to finish off the game including a brutal Qc7 move that would have ended the game quickly but missed these and Raahul fought back with an exchange down position to hold a while longer.

You don't need the rook on f1, do you! Qc7 would have ended the game because of the weak back rank

Eventually, Pacher started a king hunt with his active queen, rook and bishop. Raahul found his king all the way up the board and finally resigned after a well-fought game.

With this loss, Raahul was now positioned in joint 4th but more importantly, to secure an IM norm he needed a win in the 9th and final round against 16-year-old Singaporean IM Low Zhen Yu Cyrus. In this game that started out as the English and transposed into the Maroczy Bind of the Sicilian Accelerated Dragon opening, Raahul got into a comfortable position out of the middlegame and found a nice tactic where he sacrificed an exchange to create a passed pawn that gave him a clear bishop up in the endgame. See the full game annotated by CM Raahil Mullick below.

Black has just played his king to e6. Can you score the IM norm?

Under-10 Commonwealth gold medalist and annotator of the above game Raahil Mullick showed solid chess and gained 67 Elo points | Photo: Prashant Mullick

With this win, Raahul VS closed out this tournament by jumping 56 positions from his starting rank to finish 5th and the highest Indian player of the tournament. We look forward to his IM title soon and more delightful games from this young player from India.

That sweet feeling of holding your IM norm certificate | Photo: Prashant Mullick
Raahul VS speaks to ChessBase India after his successful tournament

Akshat Khamparia - the only International Master from Madhya Pradesh | Photo: Prashant Mullick

The highest seeded Indian player, IM Akshat Khamparia (16th) has been in Europe for two months now. This was his last tournament of the trip and he finished sixth. Khamparia was undefeated in the tournament and took back 11 ELO points along with him. He now returns back to India after this whirlwind European chess tour and looks forward to playing at the HD Bank Cup in Vietnam next. 

Akshat speaks about his experience of playing at the Prague Open 2018

Off the board, Akash Thakur is a live wire. Always smiling and happy. | Photo: Prashant Mullick

On the board, he is a picture of concentration. No one can distract him. Akash finished 25th at the event | Photo: Prashant Mullick

16-year-old Nitish Belurkar from Goa showed fine performance as he gained 28 Elo points and finished thirteenth | Photo: Prashant Mullick

The clash of two Indians. WGM Bhakti Kulkarni against Tarun Kanth. While Bhakti didn't do so well at the event... | Photo: Prashant Mullick

...Tarun Kanth gained 94 Elo points | Photo: Prashant Mullick
Tarun Kanth enjoyed the Prague Open 2018 and plans to surely return to this event!

Seen in action after quite some time Nimmy George from Kerala | Photo: Prashant Mullick

About the Prague Open 2018

The Prague Open held from 10th to 19th January in this historic capital city of the Czech Republic is one of the best events of the longest continuously running chess tours in Europe, the Czech Tour. The Czech Tour has been running for 17 years and includes 11 high-level tournaments played through the year. This 2018 edition of the Prague Open attracted players from 38 countries across Europe, Americas, India, South East Asia and Australia including 10 grandmasters, 10 International Masters, 2 Women’s grandmasters and 30 Fide Masters. 17 players from India fought for top honours at the event across the A and B categories.

The well lit and spacious playing hall | Photo: Prashant Mullick

The tournament was held across all three formats of the game, Standard, Rapid and Blitz with a total of CZK 63,000 (almost Rs. 2,00,000) in prize money. The final round of the event finished on 19th January followed by a prize distribution ceremony where all participants were given mementoes of the tournament to take back with them.

The top three places at the event along with the organizers. Top three were: GM Milan Pacher (centre), Ilya Chekletsov (left) and IM Manuel Pena Gomez (right) | Photo: Prashant Mullick

Standings of the event:

18
GMPacher MilanFSVK244407,540,051,06
218
FMChekletsov IlyaFRUS237307,534,044,57
33
IMPena Gomez ManuelFESP249107,042,555,05
45
GMJurcik MarianFSVK246007,040,050,55
561
Raahul V SU16FIND220507,039,550,56
616
IMAkshat KhampariaFIND238107,038,550,05
739
FMHainke GuntramFGER228307,037,048,06
819
IMMihajlov SebastianFNOR237106,540,552,05
91
GMKiriakov PetrFRUS252806,539,550,54
23
WGMMelamed TatianawFGER234706,539,550,54
116
GMNeuman PetrFCZE245206,539,048,55
1264
Makoveev IliaU16FRUS219606,538,047,55
1343
FMNitish BelurkarFIND227006,537,548,55
1426
FMLiu YiFAUS233706,537,548,04
1520
FMSzpar MiloszU16FPOL236706,536,546,54
1624
FMKaasen Tor FredrikU16FNOR234006,536,545,55
1714
FMPopov MikhailFRUS241606,535,044,06
184
GMChernyshov KonstantinFRUS248006,533,041,55
192
GMStefansson HannesFISL252306,042,554,55
2030
Schippers MauriceFNED230906,040,051,55

The organizers of this tournament Ave-Kontact led by Dr. Jan Mazuch had made impeccable arrangements for the playing venue. The top 20 board games were broadcast live on the internet and could be followed on the Playchess server. The historic city location and Dr. Mazuch’s Czech precision in organization of the Czech Tour makes this event a must-visit for players in India that want to face tough opposition from strong players not only from Eastern Europe but across the world.

Arbiters working hard at the event | Photo: Prashant Mullick

Analysis session after the game | Photo: Prashant Mullick

Battle of generations | Photo: Prashant Mullick

A chess shop inside the tournament hall | Photo: Prashant Mullick

A number of players from this tournament then move on to the very next chapter in the Czech Tour with the Marienbad Open from Mariánské Lázně, a spa town in the West Bohemian hills of the Czech Republic. | Photo: Prashant Mullick

This tournament will feature a different closed format with 2 GM closed and 3 IM closed tournaments along with an Open tournament being held from 20th Jan to 27th Jan. A whole lot of snow-covered roads await them at this beautiful small town that inhabits less than 15000 residents, less than the tourists that come here for various natural spa treatments. ChessBase India will bring you coverage of that event as well.

Make sure that you do not miss the Czech Tour - a series of International Chess Festivals | Photo: Prashant Mullick

Replay all the games from the 17th Prague Open 2018

About the author:

Prashant Mullick likes to call himself a ChessDad. He loves the game of chess and is a FIDE-rated player himself. However, most of his trips to the tournaments are made to accompany his son Raahil Mullick who is 10-years-old and one of the rising talents of our country. The Mullicks are a chess family with mom Rupali Mullick being famous for her interview with Praggnanandhaa after the latter became World's youngest IM at the age of 10 years and 10 months.