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The 'Age of Arjun Erigaisi' begins with a monumental triumph at Tata Steel Chess India 2021 Rapid

by Shahid Ahmed - 19/11/2021

Arjun Erigaisi started hitting the next level at Goldmoney Asian Rapid this past summer when he ended Aronian's undefeated streak at the event. The healthy rivalry with Aronian began since then. The most anticipated match of the event between Aronian and Arjun did not disappoint. It delivered everything one can fathom - action, drama, high stakes, high-tension match which showcased Arjun's another quality which the majority of the Indian youth possess - true grit. No matter how adverse things might get, one needs to have the courage to fight back, even if your opponent is the mighty, only two-time World Cup winner in the history of chess. If you are wondering when are we going to get more Aronian-Arjun, you don't have to wait longer as they will play two blitz games in the next two days, starting tomorrow from 2 p.m. IST at Tata Steel Chess India 2021 Blitz. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Only Praggnanandhaa remains undefeated

Praggnanandhaa holds the unique distinction of the only player beating the eventual champion, Arjun Erigaisi. He is also the only player who has remained undefeated. The tournament lineup selection has truly been fantastic as there was no theoretical or quick uneventful draws. There was plenty of fighting chess, creative play and some beautiful positions and executions. The tournament has been the perfect example of what super tournaments should have, a great mix of world class players along with the youth.

When the legend speaks for you, you really feel like you made it | Photo: Lennart Ootes

"I think it's a huge discovery for India. For him, it's a great boost of confidence and maybe for us, we have discovered a star." - Vishy Anand on how important Arjun Erigaisi 's triumph is for the Indian chess at this stage.


"Before the game, I was trying to calm myself down, be normal and play as I usually do. As the game started, I started feeling nervous and especially after I got into a bad position, I was really regretting my previous draw with white. In the end, I am very happy" - Arjun Erigaisi on his mindset before and during the game against Levon Aronian, one whom he was looking forward to play since the 'Draw of lots'.

Round 7: Shankland - Liem: 1-0

Although the rook, knight and few pawns' endgame seem relatively equal, it is very easy to go wrong, especially when you are down on the clock and not in your best shape.

Position after 41.a4

The human instinct tells us to bring the king towards the queenside to prevent the pawn promotion. Only when we remove the practical aspects, one can see it may not work the way Black wants it to be. Shankland having a very strong endgame knowledge, correctly punished his opponent for the mistake. 41...Ke7 42.a5 Kd8 43.Nc5 Kc8 44.Re2 Ne5 45.f4 Nd3 46.Re8+ and it's all over for Black. Not only Black is unable to prevent White rook's entry but also both white rook and knight get better placed, and it helps to push the protected passed pawn on the a-file.

Shankland shook off the cobwebs from previous day's 19-move loss against Arjun and managed to hand Liem, his third consecutive loss of the event | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Adhiban - Arjun: 0.5-0.5

They say, Decisions are always correct, only in retrospect we realize where it went wrong. Playing high-quality chess against strong opponents definitely takes a toll on a person. In the eighth round, Arjun for the first time since his loss against Praggnanandhaa in the second round, made a subtle inaccurate decision probably also due to time scramble, which shifted the balance in Adhiban's favor.

Position after 41...Re2+

White has decisive advantage in the above position. However, White needs to choose the correct direction in which he should move the king. Where would it be? The game continued 42.Kc3 which led to a draw.

It is not easy to rattle Arjun Erigaisi | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Round 8: Karthikeyan - Parham: 1-0

After drawing four consecutive games, Karthikeyan Murali scored his first win since Round 2, as he beat Parham Maghsoodloo by launching a devastating attack on his kingside.

Position after 32...Qb4

32...Qb4 is a mistake. It is time to beat Parham in his own game. Try to think like Karthikeyan and find out the plan here.

Karthikeyan ends win drought by crushing Parham with a devastating attack on his kingside | Video: ChessBase India

Vaishali - Aronian: 0.5-0.5

Like I mentioned in previous day's report, Vaishali has played fantastic chess in this event, although the results may not reflect it. That changed on the final day as she drew with Aronian, in a game where we once again got a glimpse of the ever-creative Aronian.

Position after 17...Kd8

17...Kd8 is a unique move, something that can only come in someone like Aronian's mind. He had decisive advantage for the better part of the game, however, Vaishali fought back well and managed to salvage a draw.

Vaishali's draw turned out to be crucial for Arjun | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Arjun - Vidit: 0.5-0.5

Arjun Erigaisi had the shortest game of the tournament against Vidit Gujrathi. It was a 12-move draw which he almost regretted when his position turned worse against Aronian in the final round.

Fastest result of Tata Steel Chess India 2021 Rapid: Arjun Erigaisi vs. Vidit Gujrathi | Video: ChessBase India

Round 9: Aronian - Arjun: 0.5-0.5

Arjun opted for the trusty Petroff's Defence against Aronian. It is known to be solid for Black as it gives him a good chance to get a draw, which is exactly what he needed to win the tournament.

Position after 35.Qe7

White had a decisive advantage for quite some time and everyone thought Aronian may play a spoilsport in Arjun's breakout performance. Thankfully, that did not happen and White made the mistake of playing 35.Qe7 which allowed Black to get back in the game 35...Qxa4. 35.f5 would have moved White closer towards victory. Anyway, Arjun started munching his opponent's pawns, eventually the d6-pawn did not prove to be enough for White and Black found a perpetual check which led to a draw. Thus, Arjun won his career's biggest tournament - Tata Steel Chess India 2021 Rapid.

Final moments of Arjun Erigaisi winning Tata Steel Chess India 2021 Rapid | Video: ChessBase India
That move which everyone missed but Arjun Erigaisi found! | Video: ChessBase India

The finish which earned Arjun Erigaisi his career's biggest triumph so far | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Paper wraps rock | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Determined Arjun does not want to lose rock-papers-scissors battle either | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Arjun finally concurs to and like a gentleman both of them are | Photo: Lennart Ootes
Vishy + Arjun speech immediately after Arjun's Tata Steel India Rapid Victory | Video: ChessBase India
Arjun Erigaisi reveals his secret coach after winning the Tata Steel Chess India Rapid 2021 | Video: ChessBase India
Tata Steel Chess India 2021 Rapid Day 3 Post-match Press Conference | Video: ChessBase India

Photo Gallery

Can you identify the fists? | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Chess connects the chess lovers | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Making the legend happy - A moment which Arjun will cherish for the rest of his life | Photo: Lennart Ootes

One of those moments where the maestro's words only should be audible to Arjun Erigaisi | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Arjun, Anand and Sagar share a happy moment | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Some clips to watch

Replay Round 7-9 games

Round 7-9 results

Round 7 on 2021/11/19 at 1400 h
Bo.No.FEDRtg NameResultName FEDRtgNo.
GMShankland Sam1 - 0GMLe Quang Liem
GMAdhiban B.½ - ½GMErigaisi Arjun
GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi1 - 0WGMVaishali R
GMAronian Levon½ - ½GMKarthikeyan Murali
GMMaghsoodloo Parham½ - ½GMPraggnanandhaa R
Round 8 on 2021/11/19 at 1530 h
Bo.No.FEDRtg NameResultName FEDRtgNo.
GMLe Quang Liem½ - ½GMPraggnanandhaa R
GMKarthikeyan Murali1 - 0GMMaghsoodloo Parham
WGMVaishali R½ - ½GMAronian Levon
GMErigaisi Arjun½ - ½GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi
GMShankland Sam½ - ½GMAdhiban B.
Round 9 on 2021/11/19 at 1700 h
Bo.No.FEDRtg NameResultName FEDRtgNo.
GMAdhiban B.0 - 1GMLe Quang Liem
GMVidit Santosh Gujrathi½ - ½GMShankland Sam
GMAronian Levon½ - ½GMErigaisi Arjun
GMMaghsoodloo Parham1 - 0WGMVaishali R
GMPraggnanandhaa R½ - ½GMKarthikeyan Murali


Standings after Round 9

Rk.SNo NamesexFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 
GMErigaisi ArjunIND23236,50,026,5051
GMAronian LevonARM27615,51,524,0032
GMPraggnanandhaa RIND18215,51,024,0020
GMVidit Santosh GujrathiIND26395,50,520,7532
GMKarthikeyan MuraliIND23885,00,519,7520
GMShankland SamUSA26475,00,519,0031
GMMaghsoodloo ParhamIRI25164,50,015,7532
GMLe Quang LiemVIE27154,00,014,2532
GMAdhiban B.IND26262,00,09,0000
WGMVaishali RwIND22101,50,06,5000


Tata Steel Chess India 2021 Rapid Round 7-9 | Live commentary by IM Tania Sachdev, IM Sagar Shah and Samay Raina | Video: ChessBase India


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