The Gujarat Open begins!
The 1st Gujarat Grandmaster Open kicked off on Friday, October 5, 2018. The first two rounds of the event saw some intense action: upsets were abundant, games were exciting and there were some opening debacles too! In this report, we bring you games, pictures and some off the board accounts of sportsmanship from the first two days.
Upsets, heartbreaks and time scrambles
The 1st Gujarat Grandmaster Open went underway at the Karnavati club, one of the most prestigious clubs in the Gujarati city of Ahmedabad, on Friday afternoon. The event is a 9 round Swiss which will be played over 7 days, until October 12, 2018. The rate of play is 90 minutes for the entire game, with a 30-second increment from move 1.
As is the case with so many Grandmaster opens, most of the games of the initial rounds were rather one-sided. However, there are always some spicy exceptions.
The biggest upset of the inaugural round came on the third board where 2615 rated Alexandr Predke was held to a draw by Maulik Raval (1993), a young local lad who overcame a rating difference of over 500 points! Of course, earning this half point was an arduous task for Raval as GM Predke tested him for over 90 moves before conceding a draw.
IM Anup Deshmukh also had a tough time in the opening round against Srithan Saypuri, a 13-year-old from Telangana. The Nagpur based International Master erred quite early in the game and Srithan pounced immediately with an enterprising knight sacrifice. Over the next few moves, the Telangana boy displayed excellent tactical prowess to put his opponent in a dead lost position.
However, IM Deshmukh, too, is not an easy nut to crack. He found his best possible chances and put up stiff resistance. Luckily for IM Deshmukh, Saypuri failed to find his best chances. Saypuri’s position slowly deteriorated and went from being a clear win to a heartbreaking loss.
After the game, IM Deshmukh, in a heartwarming gesture, acknowledged that he was completely lost and congratulated the boy on his excellent play. A hearty handshake followed before the players parted ways to prepare for their next battle.
A similar situation was seen on the 24th board where another teenager, Aryan Polakhare, had IM Fenil Shah walk a tightrope. In an incredibly complicated position, Aryan had generated a strong attack on his opponent’s king. A time scramble had worsened matters for both sides. On several occasions, IM Shah was seen waiting until the last second to make his move. But here again, it was the younger player whose nerves gave in. As the clock ticked down, Aryan blundered his queen and was forced to resign a few moves later.
In another day full of excitement, the second round saw the second wave of title aspirants hit the top seeds. And this time, there were even more casualties.
On the fourth board, Ukrainian GM Adam Tukhaev had to sue for peace against Bangladeshi FM Mehdi Hasan Parag. A central pawn break in the Pirc Austrian attack had induced the exchange of a pair of rooks when Parag found a nice tactical sequence that forced more exchanges. By the 30th move, both sides had a rook, a knight and three pawns. After about 10 more moves, Tukhaev repeated the position to call it a day.
Two boards below on the pairing list, another Ukrainian Grandmaster, GM Vitaliy Bernadskiy was held to a draw Vinayak Kulkarni (2208). In fact, in this game, it was GM Bernadskiy who was in trouble at one point. Tons of exchanges in the game had led to an equal endgame by the 25th move. But just when it had begun to look innocuous, Bernadskiy let white take control of the position.
Kulkarni vs Bernadskiy
Here, after 27…Ne7, white simply hacked off the e7 knight with his bishop and pocketed a pawn after 29.Qb5. But in the next phase, Kulkarni rushed into a queen exchange that rendered the position equal. It is hard to believe at first that the position was equal since Kulkarni had an extra pawn in a knight endgame. But soon, the black knight turned out to be too active and this compensated for the pawn deficit. Forty-nine moves into the game, a draw was agreed via move repetition.
The biggest upset of the round was scored by the 14-year-old Tarun Kanyamarla who defeated IM Ponnuswamy Konguvel of Tamil Nadu with the black pieces. Players had castled on opposite wings in the Velimirovich attack of the Sicilian Defence. Out of the opening, IM Konguvel seemed to have the better position. His attack looked faster as his pawns had already broken into the enemy lines. But Kanyamarla defended well and, after a few mistakes by his opponent, was able to manoeuvre his queen into the white camp with decisive effect.
It wasn’t, however, all David slaying Goliath all around. It was indeed the grandmasters who won convincingly on several boards. A rather distinct game was the one on board 9 between India’s latest GM, Karthik Venkataraman and WGM Kiran Manisha Mohanty.
Venkataraman went off road very early with 1.b3. Mohanty, perhaps, hadn’t expected her opponent to play this opening and ended up in a worse position quite early in the game. Her central pawn break on the 18th turn immediately spelt doom. The tactical sequence that followed left white with a decisive material advantage. By the 25th move, it was curtains.
If you would like to add 1.b3 to your opening arsenal, do check out Wesley So’s DVD, My secret weapon: 1.b3 which is currently on sale in the ChessBase India shop.
Standings (Top 10)
|20||IM||Vignesh N R||IND||2447||TN||2,0||0,0||2,0||1,0||2,00||2|