6 major things that happened on the final day of Tata Steel Chess India Rapid 2018
The Tata Steel Chess India 2018 Rapid came to an end on the 11th of November with American GM Hikaru Nakamura taking home the pole position with 6.0/9. Nakamura played the event as per the demands of the situation - calm on first and third days and three victories on day two! It was excellent news for Indian fans that Harikrishna managed to fight back with two wins against Levon Aronian and Vidit Gujrathi in last two rounds to finish second. Levon Aronian had to settle for the third spot. In this article we bring to you six things that happened on the last day of the tournament as well as information which sum up the first super tournament held in our country! Of course, one mustn't forget the big news - Vishy Anand was beaten by his former second Surya Sekhar Ganguly in the final round.
The final day of the rapid section at Tata Steel Chess India 2018 began with Hikaru Nakamura and Levon Aronian leading with 4.5/6. The next player was Harikrishna with 3.5/6 and then a pack of four players with 3.0/6 which included Vishy Anand and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov among others. It was clear that with such a lead either Nakamura or Aronian would win the tournament with just three rounds to go. In the end it was all about not going wrong as Nakamura made three draws, two extremely solid ones against Anand and Karjakin and one wild game against Wesley So. On the other hand Aronian drew his seventh and ninth round game against Vidit and Mamedyarov but lost the critical encounter in the eighth round against Harikrishna. Meanwhile Harikrishna scored 2.0/3 on the final day beating Aronian and Vidit to finish second ahead of Aronian. There would have been playoffs if two players had tied for the top spot, but Nakamura was the sole leader with 6.0/9 followed by Aronian and Harikrishna (5.5/9). Hence, the American was adjudged as the champion without any tiebreaks coming into effect.
Final Ranking crosstable after 9 Rounds
|8||GM||Vidit Santosh Gujrathi||IND||½||0||½||0||0||1||½||*||½||1||4,0||0,5||16,25||2||1|
|10||GM||Ganguly Surya Shekhar||IND||0||½||0||½||0||0||1||0||½||*||2,5||0,0||10,75||1||1|
Round 7 results
|1||4||IND||2127||IM||Nihal Sarin||½ - ½||GM||Ganguly Surya Shekhar||IND||2608||10|
|2||5||IND||2737||GM||Anand Viswanathan||½ - ½||GM||Nakamura Hikaru||USA||2844||3|
|3||6||USA||2808||GM||So Wesley||½ - ½||GM||Mamedyarov Shakhriyar||AZE||2794||2|
|4||7||RUS||2792||GM||Karjakin Sergey||1 - 0||GM||Harikrishna Pentala||IND||2743||1|
|5||8||ARM||2802||GM||Aronian Levon||½ - ½||GM||Vidit Santosh Gujrathi||IND||2660||9|
Round 8 results
|1||10||IND||2608||GM||Ganguly Surya Shekhar||0 - 1||GM||Vidit Santosh Gujrathi||IND||2660||9|
|2||1||IND||2743||GM||Harikrishna Pentala||1 - 0||GM||Aronian Levon||ARM||2802||8|
|3||2||AZE||2794||GM||Mamedyarov Shakhriyar||1 - 0||GM||Karjakin Sergey||RUS||2792||7|
|4||3||USA||2844||GM||Nakamura Hikaru||½ - ½||GM||So Wesley||USA||2808||6|
|5||4||IND||2127||IM||Nihal Sarin||½ - ½||GM||Anand Viswanathan||IND||2737||5|
Round 9 results
|1||5||IND||2737||GM||Anand Viswanathan||0 - 1||GM||Ganguly Surya Shekhar||IND||2608||10|
|2||6||USA||2808||GM||So Wesley||1 - 0||IM||Nihal Sarin||IND||2127||4|
|3||7||RUS||2792||GM||Karjakin Sergey||½ - ½||GM||Nakamura Hikaru||USA||2844||3|
|4||8||ARM||2802||GM||Aronian Levon||½ - ½||GM||Mamedyarov Shakhriyar||AZE||2794||2|
|5||9||IND||2660||GM||Vidit Santosh Gujrathi||0 - 1||GM||Harikrishna Pentala||IND||2743||1|
1. Nakamura is the champion!
Nakamura paced himself excellently in the tournament. He started with three draws against strong opponents Aronian, Vidit and Harikrishna on day one. Day two was when he really started get things rolling by defeating Mamedyarov with the black pieces and then followed it up with two wins against the tailenders Surya Ganguly and Nihal Sarin. With 4.5/6 he was ideally placed to win the tournament. Now the important thing was to not take any risks, play solidly and see what his main competitors are up to.
Hikaru Nakamura vs Wesley So
Bxh7+! was a simple tactic missed by Wesley. If the knight moves from f6, then the bishop on d5 is hanging. Nakamura was better after this, but couldn't convert the edge and the game ended in a draw.
In the final round Karjakin and Nakamura drew their game within five minutes. Only Aronian would be able to catch Nakamura if he won the game, but Levon was unable to do so, the game ended in a draw and Nakamura became the champion.
2. Harikrishna's tough mental setup
Harikrishna was playing quite solidly until the end of day two. He had a win against Mamedyarov and five draws. Coming into the final day he lost his game against Sergey Karjakin. It was a normal position in which he blundered big time.
Karjakin vs Harikrishna
It speaks a lot about Hari's mental setup that he was able to come back form this loss to beat a player of Aronian's calibre from an equal endgame. Harikrishna managed to win a couple of pawns, but still the knight endgame was not at all easy. In fact at one point Aronian had a draw in his hand if he found the accurate move.
Harikrishna vs Aronian
Aronian chose the move ...Nd5, but better was to play ..Nb5 when White has to agree to a draw!
In the final round, things were proceeding just normally in the game between Vidit and Harikrishna, when all of a sudden Vidit blundered.
3. Surya Sekhar Ganguly beats Vishy Anand
This was the first time that Ganguly and Anand were playing against each other in an over the board encounter. They had never played against each other, not even in rapid and blitz section. Surya had been Anand's second for many years. He helped Anand to win three World Championship titles against Kramnik, Topalov and Gelfand. Of course he is well versed with Anand's playing style. But, it is one thing to know everything about the opponent, and quite another to actually beat him. Ganguly managed to play some inspired chess to beat the five-time World Champion from the black side of the Caro Kann.
A great result for Ganguly who had three draws and five losses before the final round. Even after the win, he finished on the last position, but this final round victory would be a great victory etched forever in his memory.
One position worth showing here is Ganguly's penultimate round game against Vidit Gujrathi:
Surya Sekhar Ganguly vs Vidit Gujrathi
One thing that separates grandmasters from normal players is that they don't really have prejudices. They play the position as per its needs. Vidit realized that the bishop on d4 was strong and needed to exchanged and hence played ...Bf6!
4. A very respectable 3.0/9 for Nihal Sarin
Nihal Sarin is just 14 years old. Thanks to the organizers of the Tata Steel Chess India 2018 he got a chance to rub shoulders against the best in the business. The feat definitely was that he would not be able to sustain against these world class opponents. But Nihal was more than up for the challenge. He drew six games against Karjakin, Vidit, Anand, Ganguly, Harikrishna, and Mamedyarov and lost three against Aronian, Nakamura and So. A very respectable performance for a boy who had no real experience of facing these super elite grandmasters.
After the tournament ended, I went to Nihal's room in Taj Bengal and did a detailed round-up video of his performance and game analysis of all nine rounds. That will be published soon. It was very interesting for me to see how Nihal could fight on equal terms against all the giants of the game and I realized that when it comes to sheer calculation, the boy is really moving close to the level of these greats. Stay tuned for "Inside the mind of Nihal Sarin!"
5. No win for Vishy Anand
An event of this stature in India would be impossible without Vishy Anand's inclusion. It's because Anand's presence motivates the sponsors, him playing in the event inspires hundreds of people to visit the playing venue just to have a glimpse of him in person. It didn't come as a surprise that everyone was looking forward to Anand winning a game or two with great enthusiasm. But that didn't really happen. In fact the closest that Vishy came to a win was in the first round against Wesley So. After Anand lost the last round against Surya Sekhar Ganguly there was a huge silence in the playing hall. Everyone was stunned. One can only hope that Anand comes back to form in the blitz event.
6. The massive turnout of spectators
The Blitz tournament
The blitz event will begin from the 13th of November 2018. We will have 18 rounds of 3 minutes + 2 seconds increment. Nine rounds on the 13th and nine rounds on the 14th.
Starting rank of the players for blitz
|8||GM||Vidit Santosh Gujrathi||5029465||IND||2727|
|10||GM||Ganguly Surya Shekhar||5002150||IND||2547|
Like we had Nihal in rapid, we now have Praggnanandhaa in blitz. It will be great fun to see how little Pragg does. Also exciting would be to see if Nakamura can break into the 2900 zone in the tournament.