Vishnu Prasanna becomes the best Indian performer in Riga chess gala!
The ninth edition of Riga Technical University International Chess Festival was held from 3rd to 11th of August in Riga, Latvia. The Grandmaster Open of the event saw a total of 275 players participating from about 40 different countries. India was the second most represented country in the tournament (second only to Latvia!) with as many as 31 players competing. Among them Gopal G.N. was the highest rated followed by an array of several other strong Grandmasters including Lalith Babu M R, Abhimanyu Puranik, Deepan Chakkravarthy, and Gukesh D. After nine rounds Latvia's number one Igor Kovalenko and Šarūnas Šulskis of Lithuania were tied with 7.5/9 points but based on a better tie-break score the former was declared as the champion. Among Indians, the best performer was Vishnu Prasanna V. who finished fifth just half a point behind the leaders scoring 7.0/9
In the Riga Technical University Open a total of twelve events were organized this year, which included six chess tournaments in slow time controls, rapid and blitz, a bridge contest, and two tournaments on Bughouse Chess and Dice Chess. The festival, which was first held in 2011, is traditionally known to invite chess players of all strengths and has something for everyone, from very top Grandmasters to amateurs. Following was the schedule of events this year:
A happy surprise in the opening blitz tournament!
The chess festival kick-started on 3rd of August with an eleven-round blitz event following a time control of three minutes plus two seconds increment from move one. The top seed was the best Latvian player Igor Kovalenko followed by German Grandmaster Rasmus Svane but the event was in for a shocker as Indians displayed sheer dominance by securing all of the top places! Shardul Gagare, who started as the twentieth seed, was surprisingly the one who dominated the field with an astounding 10.0/11 points. Shardul remained unbeaten and won eight games in a row to begin with. He defeated strong opponents like Gopal, Lalith, Kantans, Deepan, Nevednichy and others, thus achieving a performance rating of 2752 and gaining a whopping 92 Elo points.
India's domination in the blitz event however didn't end with Shardul's performance alone. The first seven places were all clinched by Indians and GM Deepan Chakkravarthy became tenth!
Top ten in Blitz Open
|4||3||GM||Lalith Babu M R||IND||2558||8,5||66,0||82,0||2515||20||-0,6|
|7||12||GM||Vishnu Prasanna. V||IND||2462||8,5||59,0||70,5||2521||20||26,2|
|10||9||GM||Deepan Chakkravarthy J.||IND||2503||8,0||65,5||80,0||2470||20||1,0|
To secure as many as eight places in the top ten is the very definition of domination! Notice the gains in Elo points of the players. Stany G.A. acquired 36.6 Elo points, while Gukesh D an immense 60.6!
Vishnu secures a commendable fifth place in the main event
The Tournament A - Grandmaster Open was the main attraction of the festival. This was a nine-round swiss event following a time control of 90 minutes to each player for the entire game with 30 seconds increment for each move starting from move one. A total of 15,100 Euro was disbursed as prize fund with 2,500 Euro for the first place. Several Indians performed well in the event. Particularly it was Abhimanyu Puranik and Gopal GN who stayed at the heels of the leader Igor Kovalenko throughout the tournament but both of them suffered defeats in the last round to be ousted from top five. Vishnu Prasanna V. instead kept up a consistent performance to secure the fifth place with an impressive score of 7.0/9. Speaking to ChessBase India Vishnu said, "I was very happy to do well in this event and get back to decent playing form. I was happy with my decision making and general state of mind with the exception of my game against Igor Kovalenko. I needed a bit of luck in my last round game to finish well and am happy that I got it".
His favourite game from the event was against the strong but underrated International Master Akash G, this he shares with us with detailed annotations:
Winning the last two rounds was certainly crucial for a strong finish. Vishnu faced the most critical test in the penultimate round itself against Pavlo Kruglyakov of Ukraine where he actually spoiled a large advantage to enter into a drawish ending. But he had one last trick up his sleeve that saved the day!
Vishnu Prasanna V. - Pavlo Kruglyakov, Round 8
In the final round a bit of luck favoured Vishnu. He was up against compatriot GM Lalith Babu M R and was slightly worse throughout the game but the latter slowly lost his initiative and finally ended up committing an insipid blunder.
Lalith Babu M R - Vishnu Prasanna V., Round 9
47.Nf1 Qxa2 would probably have left equal chances for both sides but Lalith played 47.Kh2?? which, unfortunately for him, fell prey to a horrible trap, can you see what? Well, Vishnu played the move 47...Ne5! here which made his opponent resign almost immediately!
The point is, in the above position Black is threatening Ng4+ followed by Qg1 after which Qh2# would be unstoppable. There's no good way in which White can parry this threat, 48.Qf1 for instance runs into 48...Ng4+ 49.Kh3/g1 Re1 after which White must give up his queen to prevent mate!
Final standings of the event
|4||22||IM||Thybo Jesper Sondergaard||DEN||2528||7,0||38,5||48,5||2646||10||13,3|
|5||26||GM||Vishnu Prasanna. V||IND||2507||7,0||37,5||49,5||2619||10||12,7|
|9||10||GM||Dastan Muhammed Batuhan||TUR||2582||6,5||41,5||52,5||2580||10||0,9|
|13||19||GM||Deepan Chakkravarthy J.||IND||2531||6,5||38,5||49,5||2594||10||8,3|
|27||12||GM||Lalith Babu M R||IND||2574||6,0||39,5||49,5||2501||10||-6,8|
An overview of all performances by Indian players
|9||GM||Gopal G.N.||2594||IND||1||1||1||½||½||1||½||½||0||6,0||22||10||-0,10||Tournament A|
|12||GM||Lalith Babu M R||2574||IND||1||0||1||1||1||½||½||1||0||6,0||27||10||-6,80||Tournament A|
|15||GM||Puranik Abhimanyu||2550||IND||1||1||1||1||½||½||½||1||0||6,5||7||10||11,80||Tournament A|
|19||GM||Deepan Chakkravarthy J.||2531||IND||1||1||½||1||1||½||0||½||1||6,5||13||10||8,30||Tournament A|
|21||GM||Gukesh D||2528||IND||1||1||½||½||1||½||½||1||½||6,5||18||10||4,30||Tournament A|
|23||GM||Stany G.A.||2525||IND||½||1||½||1||0||½||1||1||0||5,5||65||10||-14,10||Tournament A|
|26||GM||Vishnu Prasanna. V||2507||IND||1||1||1||0||½||1||½||1||1||7,0||5||10||12,70||Tournament A|
|33||GM||Gagare Shardul||2486||IND||1||½||0||½||0||0||0||0||0||2,0||265||10||-12,10||Tournament A|
|42||IM||Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh||2442||IND||1||1||½||0||1||½||0||½||1||5,5||62||10||0,50||Tournament A|
|62||IM||Tania Sachdev||2400||IND||1||½||1||0||1||½||1||0||0||5,0||77||10||-1,80||Tournament A|
|65||IM||Akash G||2394||IND||1||1||½||0||1||0||1||½||½||5,5||51||10||6,60||Tournament A|
|96||WIM||Rakshitta Ravi||2322||IND||1||0||1||0||1||½||1||0||½||5,0||107||20||-11,60||Tournament A|
|110||IM||Sharma Dinesh K.||2299||IND||1||½||½||½||½||½||0||½||½||4,5||124||10||5,50||Tournament A|
|119||Manish Anto Cristiano F||2272||IND||1||1||0||½||0||1||1||1||½||6,0||36||40||102,40||Tournament A|
|120||Raahul V S||2270||IND||1||0||½||½||½||1||½||½||½||5,0||108||20||-4,00||Tournament A|
|125||FM||Jeet Jain||2261||IND||½||1||½||½||½||½||0||1||½||5,0||102||20||11,40||Tournament A|
|134||FM||Shailesh Dravid||2246||IND||1||½||1||½||½||1||½||½||0||5,5||47||20||53,00||Tournament A|
|140||WIM||Raghavi N.||2234||IND||0||0||½||1||1||½||½||0||0||3,5||217||20||-44,40||Tournament A|
|144||Mohite Ranveer||2229||IND||0||1||0||1||1||0||1||0||1||5,0||83||20||25,00||Tournament A|
|178||WFM||Harshini A||2149||IND||0||½||½||1||½||0||1||½||½||4,5||141||40||2,00||Tournament A|
|186||WIM||Gagare Shalmali||2134||IND||0||1||½||0||0||½||1||½||1||4,5||150||20||0,40||Tournament A|
|188||WIM||Varshini V||2128||IND||1||1||½||0||½||0||1||1||½||5,5||55||20||79,60||Tournament A|
|206||FM||Tiwari Ashwani||2089||IND||0||0||½||0||1||0||1||½||½||3,5||231||20||-34,60||Tournament A|
|222||Goswami Vedant||2046||IND||0||0||1||1||0||½||½||½||1||4,5||152||20||27,80||Tournament A|
|224||Nair Sanjeev||2045||IND||0||1||0||1||0||0||1||½||0||3,5||207||20||24,00||Tournament A|
|241||Mota Pankit||2002||IND||0||0||1||0||0||1||0||1||½||3,5||229||20||5,80||Tournament A|
|247||WFM||Makhija Aashna||1963||IND||0||1||½||0||1||0||0||1||1||4,5||146||40||108,00||Tournament A|
|264||Srimathi R||1848||IND||1||½||0||0||½||0||½||½||1||4,0||183||40||79,20||Tournament A|
|267||WFM||Dhyana Patel||1814||IND||0||½||0||½||0||0||1||½||1||3,5||227||40||28,00||Tournament A|
|272||Patel Palak||1743||IND||½||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||1||3,5||224||20||41,00||Tournament A|
|273||Muthu P||1665||IND||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||1||½||2,5||262||40||7,20||Tournament A|