Western Asian R01+02: Arjun Gupta stuns Sri Lankan talent Thilakarathne
by Satanick Mukhuty - 07/09/2019
The classical games have begun at the Western Asian Youth and Junior Championships 2019. The first round itself saw a couple of upsets as Tanishka Kotia (2164) and Savitha Shri B (2076) suffered defeats in the hands of Vishwa Shah (1760) and Rathi Dhanashree (1631) in the under-20 girls section. While in round two of the second half it was Sankalp Gupta (2376) who fell victim to Harshal Shahi (2114) of the host city. The most emphatic performance of the day however came from the under-18 open category, where playing on board one Arjun Gupta (2024) outwitted the Sri Lankan talent Thilakarathne GMH (2397). In this report we bring you photos, analyses, and much more from the second day of the event.
Tough loss for the Sri Lankan contingent!
Sri Lanka's Thilakarathne GMH had to suffer an upsetting loss against lower rated Arjun Gupta of India | Photo: Rupesh Kumar
Even though India is undoubtedly the favourites in this Western Asian Youth Championships but Sri Lanka, with 34 of its participants, is one country which is expected to give the hosts a very close competition. But unfortunately in round two of the event the Sri Lankan contingent suffered a big blow as their lead player in open under-18 category went down against Arjun Gupta of India. This was an Indian Game where Thilakarathne with black pieces actually had the opportunity to grab some initiative out of the opening. But he missed his chance and slowly started to slip into a worse position. Let's check out what happened.
Arjun Gupta -
Thilakarathne GMH, Round 2
In what was otherwise a calm position White tried to stir things up with 12.e4?! but this simply weakens the center.
Black struck immediately with 12...e5 in the above position. Next, 13.dxe5 was played and now the correct way to seize the edge would have been 13...Nc5! 14.Qe3 Nfxe4 etc but in the game the rather meek 13...dxe5 was opted with which the balance was once again restored.
18.Nd5 was an interesting choice that left quite a few possibilities open for Black. In such situations where you have a plethora of options you often end up taking the worse one.
The simple 18...Nxd5 would have been the right move here. The other two options - 18...Bxd2 and 18...Bxc4 - both give White the initiative (see annotations), Thilakarathne chose the latter in the game. After 18...Bxc4?! 19.Qxb4 axb4 20.Nxe7+ Kg7 21.Nxc8 Bxf1 22.Kxf1 White's position started to look.
White's rook is nicely placed on the open d-file and furthermore his queenside pawn-structure is healthier compared to Black's. White's advantage will only grow stronger with more exchanges.
White's minor pieces are way superior than Black's. 33.f4 with the intention of opening up the position more was a logical decision.
A clearly won position for White. It is only a matter of time that Black's loose pawns on both sides will start falling.
First it is the h7 pawn that perishes!
Not long after the queenside pawns too faced their fate. It was in this position that Black resigned.
Vantika's tricky tactical trap
Vantika Agrawal registered a fine win against Kazakhstan's Sultanbek Zeinep in round 2. The victory in this case came through a nice tactical motif | Photo: Rupesh Kumar
In the second round Vantika Agrawal defeated Kazakhstan's Sultanbek Zeinep to emerge as one of the three leaders in the under-20 girls group with 2.0/2 points. Let us see the critical moment from this encounter.
Sultanbek Zeinep - Vantika Agrawal, Round 2
White has just blundered with 17.Ba3 ... Can you find how Vantika trapped her opponent here? (Check game below for answer)
Standings after round 2
The under-20 open group is being led by Sammed Jaykumar Shete who has 2.0/2 along with four others | Photo: Amit Sharma
Harshal Shahi stunned sixth seed Sankalp Gupta in the second round with black pieces to move to 2.0/2 | Photo: Rupesh Kumar