S.L. Narayanan wins the 1st Elllobregat Open 2019
The 1st Elllobregat Open 2019 held in Spain from the 3rd to 11th of December 2019 was a very successful one for India. S.L. Narayanan won the championship with a performance of 2712. Polish GM Mateusz Bartel finished second and the young Indian talent Arjun Erigaisi was third. Out of the top ten spots, six went to Indians! A total of 55 Indians played in the A-group and entire contingent gained a whopping 778.6 Elo points. Harshit Raja and Rithvik Raja both scored their maiden GM norms. In the B-group we had Gopal KN who finished first. We bring you a huge final report of the tournament before the focus shifts to the Sunway Sitges Chess Festival beginning from the 13th of December 2019.
S.L. Narayanan is an unassuming GM, who likes to let his moves do the talking. He has steadily been improving his rating and now at the 1st Elllobregat Open 2019, he produced one of the best results of his chess career to win the event ahead of 22 other GMs.
Narayanan is just 21 years old and has recently completed his bachelors in education. The last time I met him at the Commonwealth Championships a few months ago, he was looking out for a job. A 2600+ rated GM not getting a job in any of the public companies of India under sports quota is quite disheartening. But every dark cloud has a silver lining. Narayanan has put all his cards into his chess career and that is bearing fruit. A couple of months ago he played at the World Cup 2019 where he lost his round one encounter to David Anton Guijarro. But it wasn't before he had already given his opponent a big scare coming back from 0-1 down in the match and very nearly winning the rapid tiebreak. While that elimination was heartbreaking it surely came in handy at the Elllobregat open where Narayanan had to face Mateusz Bartel in the final playoff to determine the winner.
|5||1||GM||Lagarde Maxime||2651||FRA||2655||CAT - CE Barcelona||6,5||0,0||5||41,5||10||-6,6|
|11||53||FM||Verstraeten Rein||A||BEL||2365||Dolle Toren Leuven||6,0||0,0||5||40,5||20||39,0|
|12||6||GM||Alonso Rosell Alvar||2577||ESP||2548||CAT - CE Gerunda||6,0||0,0||4||48,5||10||1,6|
|14||35||IM||Dhulipalla Bala Chandra Prasad||IND||2414||AICF||6,0||0,0||4||39,5||10||14,2|
|15||13||GM||Del Rio De Angelis Salvador G.||ESP||2507||VAS - C.A. Sestao||6,0||0,0||3||46,0||10||2,5|
|16||48||IM||Raja Rithvik R||A||IND||2381||AICF||6,0||0,0||3||45,5||10||25,9|
The first two games between Narayanan and Bartel ended in a 1-1 draw. Bartel won game one, but Narayanan immediately struck back to level the scores. Meanwhile Arjun Erigaisi managed to win the playoffs for the third place with a 2-0 victory over Harshit Raja. The match between Bartel and Narayanan moved into the Armageddon phase. Narayanan chose the white pieces and an extra minute, but was in a must-win situation. A draw would mean that Bartel becomes the champion. The Kerala GM delivered when it mattered the most, won the game and clinched the first prize!
Narayanan could have avoided the tiebreaks had he taken his chances against Abhimanyu Puranik in the final round. He was unable to do so and had to settle for a draw after 40 moves. To show you what a shrewd thinker Narayanan is on the board, we take you to his round 8 encounter against Harshit Raja.
S.L. Narayanan vs Harshit Raja
The game was quite interesting in all aspects. However, the most surprising decision by Narayanan was to play 5.e3. It looks quite unambitious to lock down your bishop on c1. But the main idea is to enter fresh positions where the emphasis shifts from theory to practical playing skills. In this respect Narayanan did feel that he is superior to his opponent.
It was the Sicilian Najdorf and after the opening it seemed like Arjun had equalized without too many difficulties. His knights were strong enough to match Bartel's bishops. The position's evaluation oscillated between equality and a slight plus for the Polish GM, but suddenly things changed. The rooks came off and in the queen+minor piece endgame it was Bartel's queen, bishop, king and pawns who all participated together to score the win.
In round 8 Arjun scored a fine win against P. Iniyan. Some of the decisions which Arjun takes in his games shows his true strength - the ability to calculate accurately.
Arjun Erigaisi vs P. Iniyan, round 8
I am sure that majority of the players would just 0-0 here. It keeps White's advantage. Black is passive and you can build up slowly. But Arjun saw that the knights on f6 and g6 are slightly clumsily placed. He began with the pawn thrust to g4! Yes, it weakens his king and Iniyan tried to take advantage of it with ...h5, but this is where Arjun's true skills came to the fore. He calculated everything accurately, seeing that he has the nice resource Qa4 at any point to exchange the queens and converted the plus position into win. g4! is not a move that players like Karpov or Petrosian would have played, but Arjun has his own way of doing things!
The Rajas score GM norms!
Scoring GM norms is never easy at any event. You need a performance of 2600+ and often getting this means you finish in the top of the table of just about any event (apart from tournaments like the Gibraltar, Aeroflot, Isle of Man etc. which have several 2600+ players fighting it out). It was great news for Indian fans that two of our players managed to score their norms. Both Rajas! One is Harshit Raja and the other is Rithvik Raja.
The only similarity I could find between the two GM norm makers was their second name! The way in which they achieved the norms was completely different. Rithvik was rock solid. He scored three wins at the event and six draws and didn't lose a single game. His play was strong and he went into a full fledged fight only when the situation demanded it. Harshit on the other hand was interested to play enterprising chess right from the word go. He attacked, sacrificed and overall played to the crowd! He even lost a game, but it didn't stop him from making his maiden GM norm.
Perhaps Harshit's best game of the event and also maybe of his chess career was against GM Alvar Rosell. Harshit played a beautiful attack sacrificing his pieces right, left and center and to attack his 2548 rated opponent's king.
Harshit Raja vs Alvar Rossell, Round 5
Just when everything was going according to plan for Harshit, he succumbed to a loss against S.L. Narayanan in the penultimate round. This put him in a precarious situation where he had to win his game against Gukesh in the final round to get his GM norm. This was a big test for Harshit, as Gukesh loves such high pressure situations. The game developed just as one would have imagined with both players going for uncompromising chess. At some point it seemed like they would repeat the position and agree to a draw, but Harshit was determined to achieve his GM norm. Even at the risk of being worse, he decided to continue. He was rewarded for his bravery when Gukesh's king was caught in a mating net! Have a look at the final position:
Harshit Raja vs D. Gukesh, Round 9
Now that's an easy one! Harshit picked up the knight with his rook and Gukesh resigned the game. No matter how he recaptures on d4, White will execute a mate in one with b5!
With this win Harshit achieved his maiden GM norm. A memorable moment for the youngster from Pune.
Rithvik won two games against two higher rated opponents and both of them were very interesting.
Rithvik Raja vs Marc Narciso Dublan, Round 2
There are several ways to win. Even Bxf4! is strong. But what Rithvik did was reminiscent of the famous Botvinnik vs Capablanca game from AVRO, 1938. Don't you remember the move?
Botvinnik vs Capablanca, AVRO 1938
Botvinnik played the brilliant Ba3!! deflecting the black queen and after Qxa3 continued with Nh5+ gxh5 Qg5+ and later went on to win the game!
Rithvik Raja vs Marc Narciso Dublan, Round 2
Rithvik's second win agains a higher rated opponent came against IM Tomas Sosa (2520). Check out the annotated game below:
Final rankings after round 9 in B-group
|1||13||CM||Gopal K.N.||D||IND||1840||0||AICF- Andhra Bank||7,5||0,0||7||43,0||20||40,4|
|2||7||Fabregas Fontanet Antonio||2096||ESP||1921||1937||CAT - CE Sant Adria||7,0||0,0||6||44,5||20||20,8|
|3||5||Flores Mendoza Jose Antonio||2120||ESP||1952||1981||CAT - CE Villadecans||7,0||0,0||6||43,0||20||10,2|
|4||8||Amellal Sofiane Anis||ALG||1914||0||Argelia||6,5||0,0||6||42,0||20||25,0|
|5||21||Madrid Sole Antonio||D||1980||ESP||1759||1764||CAT - CE Jake||6,5||0,0||5||37,5||20||42,2|
|6||6||Manco David Jonatan Andres||ITA||1926||0||Italia||6,0||0,0||6||44,5||20||5,6|
|7||2||Viguera Garcia Ferran||2098||ESP||1971||1984||CAT - CE Granollers - Canovelles||6,0||0,0||5||44,0||20||-17,6|
|9||19||Aryan B Joshi||D||IND||1770||0||AICF||6,0||0,0||4||45,0||40||38,8|
Overview of the Indian performance at the event:
55 Indians played in the A-Group and gained a whopping 778.6 Elo points from the event. However, it has to be mentioned that the heavy hitting came from the players below the Elo of 2200. Above that rating a lot of Indian players lost and gained rating which sort of evened out the calculations.
|4||GM||Karthikeyan Murali||2611||IND||1||1||½||½||0||½||1||1||½||6,0||13||10||-7,20||Group A|
|5||GM||Puranik Abhimanyu||2580||IND||½||1||1||1||½||½||½||1||½||6,5||8||10||3,90||Group A|
|7||GM||Gukesh D||2547||IND||1||1||0||0||1||1||1||½||0||5,5||19||10||-11,80||Group A|
|8||GM||Erigaisi Arjun||2544||IND||1||1||1||½||1||½||½||1||0||6,5||3||10||13,30||Group A|
|9||GM||Harsha Bharathakoti||2523||IND||1||½||½||1||½||0||½||1||0||5,0||42||10||-14,50||Group A|
|14||GM||Girish A. Koushik||2506||IND||1||½||½||½||1||½||0||1||0||5,0||43||10||-11,60||Group A|
|18||GM||Iniyan P||2497||IND||1||1||1||½||0||1||1||0||0||5,5||18||10||7,50||Group A|
|22||GM||Karthik Venkataraman||2470||IND||1||0||1||1||½||1||½||0||½||5,5||26||10||1,60||Group A|
|23||GM||Gagare Shardul||2468||IND||1||1||0||1||1||½||0||1||½||6,0||10||10||7,90||Group A|
|28||IM||Raja Harshit||2447||IND||1||½||½||1||1||½||1||0||1||6,5||4||10||19,10||Group A|
|32||IM||Kulkarni Bhakti||2418||IND||½||0||1||1||½||½||1||0||½||5,0||44||10||-5,80||Group A|
|34||IM||Akash Pc Iyer||2415||IND||1||½||1||0||½||1||0||½||0||4,5||51||10||-3,10||Group A|
|35||IM||Dhulipalla Bala Chandra Prasad||2414||IND||0||1||1||1||½||½||½||½||1||6,0||14||10||14,20||Group A|
|37||FM||Rathanvel V S||2410||IND||1||0||1||0||1||½||1||0||1||5,5||21||10||4,90||Group A|
|41||FM||Moksh Amit Doshi||2399||IND||1||0||0||0||1||1||1||½||1||5,5||23||20||-11,40||Group A|
|43||IM||Mendonca Leon Luke||2398||IND||1||0||1||½||½||1||½||½||½||5,5||37||10||10,40||Group A|
|45||IM||Krishna Teja N||2383||IND||1||0||½||½||1||0||1||1||½||5,5||31||10||-0,30||Group A|
|48||IM||Raja Rithvik R||2381||IND||1||1||½||1||½||½||½||½||½||6,0||16||10||25,90||Group A|
|52||IM||Sankalp Gupta||2365||IND||1||½||½||½||0||1||1||1||1||6,5||6||10||26,80||Group A|
|57||FM||Manush Shah||2341||IND||1||0||1||0||½||0||½||1||½||4,5||60||10||-12,40||Group A|
|59||Bhambure Shantanu||2340||IND||1||½||0||½||½||1||½||0||½||4,5||66||20||-14,60||Group A|
|62||IM||Sidhant Mohapatra||2338||IND||1||½||0||½||½||1||0||1||1||5,5||33||10||3,00||Group A|
|64||WIM||Divya Deshmukh||2332||IND||1||0||1||0||1||1||0||½||0||4,5||45||10||0,60||Group A|
|68||FM||Dixit Nikhil||2318||IND||0||1||½||1||½||½||0||½||0||4,0||76||20||7,80||Group A|
|69||Samant Aditya S||2309||IND||0||0||1||1||1||0||½||1||0||4,5||48||20||-6,80||Group A|
|70||FM||Krishnater Kushager||2308||IND||½||½||0||1||1||½||½||0||½||4,5||62||20||25,20||Group A|
|71||FM||Matta Vinay Kumar||2300||IND||0||1||0||0||1||1||½||1||1||5,5||24||20||-4,40||Group A|
|76||WIM||Rakshitta Ravi||2260||IND||0||½||1||½||0||0||1||½||½||4,0||80||20||-21,20||Group A|
|79||WIM||Pratyusha Bodda||2253||IND||0||0||1||1||½||0||1||½||½||4,5||58||20||0,40||Group A|
|80||FM||Dushyant Sharma||2247||IND||½||0||1||1||0||0||1||½||1||5,0||41||20||40,00||Group A|
|81||Panesar Vedant||2247||IND||½||1||½||0||0||1||0||1||½||4,5||52||40||63,60||Group A|
|84||CM||Dev Shah||2242||IND||0||1||0||1||0||0||1||½||½||4,0||72||40||-8,00||Group A|
|86||Rohit S||2234||IND||1||0||0||1||0||½||1||0||1||4,5||46||40||61,60||Group A|
|89||WIM||Priyanka Nutakki||2229||IND||1||0||½||1||0||0||0||½||½||3,5||93||20||5,20||Group A|
|90||WIM||Varshini V||2227||IND||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0,0||126||20||0,00||Group A|
|93||CM||Prraneeth Vuppala||2221||IND||0||1||1||1||0||0||0||½||0||3,5||88||40||-3,20||Group A|
|94||WFM||Cholleti Sahajasri||2216||IND||½||0||½||1||½||½||0||½||0||3,5||104||20||7,80||Group A|
|98||IM||Mohota Nisha||2191||IND||0||0||½||½||1||0||0||1||½||3,5||100||10||-6,90||Group A|
|99||Bartakke Amardeep S.||2190||IND||0||½||0||½||1||½||0||1||½||4,0||82||20||11,60||Group A|
|100||Sekar B||2176||IND||1||0||½||½||½||1||0||0||0||3,5||94||20||25,60||Group A|
|103||Godbole Atharva||2148||IND||0||0||1||0||0||½||0||1||1||3,5||91||20||-17,80||Group A|
|106||CM||Shahil Dey||2135||IND||0||1||1||0||½||0||0||1||½||4,0||71||40||67,60||Group A|
|109||WIM||Tejaswini Sagar||2128||IND||½||0||0||1||0||½||½||1||½||4,0||84||20||30,20||Group A|
|111||Darpan Inani||2117||IND||½||0||0||1||1||½||½||0||0||3,5||96||20||29,60||Group A|
|112||WIM||Gagare Shalmali||2100||IND||0||½||½||0||0||½||0||1||½||3,0||108||20||-9,40||Group A|
|114||WCM||Sharma Isha||2099||IND||0||1||0||½||0||0||1||1||1||4,5||50||20||26,40||Group A|
|117||Toshali V||2083||IND||0||0||½||½||½||1||0||1||0||3,5||98||40||32,40||Group A|
|118||Kishan Gangolli||2078||IND||0||½||0||0||½||1||0||½||1||3,5||103||20||12,00||Group A|
|119||CM||Mohamed Anees M||2056||IND||½||0||½||1||0||0||0||0||1||3,0||105||40||38,40||Group A|
|123||Ghelani Dhairya||2027||IND||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0,0||129||40||0,00||Group A|
|124||Potluri Saye Srreezza||2013||IND||0||½||0||1||0||0||1||0||0||2,5||110||20||6,00||Group A|
|126||Ayushh Ravikumar||1982||IND||½||½||½||½||½||½||½||½||½||4,5||69||40||141,60||Group A|
|127||WFM||Savitha Shri B||1968||IND||0||0||1||½||0||0||1||0||1||3,5||92||40||70,00||Group A|
|128||AIM||Komal Srivatsav Sajja||1907||IND||1||0||½||½||0||1||0||0||½||3,5||97||40||106,40||Group A|