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The Challenger is now a Master!

by Sagar Shah - 02/02/2016

It was edge of the seat entertainment as the last round of the Tata Steel Challengers saw three players with a chance to win the title. In the end it was the 23-year-old from Chennai who drew his final round game and came out victorious. B. Adhiban not only played some great games of chess but also defended skillfully in nearly lost positions. His fighting abilities and never-say-die spirit are the reasons why he has earned a spot in the next years Masters! We have the final report and a short interview with the winner.

Pictures by Alina l'Ami

 

The final round in the Challengers section was a tension-filled affair. Three players had a chance to win the event - B. Adhiban, Alexey Dreev and Eltaj Safarli. The first prize was a meagre 2000 Euros, but what really mattered was that the winner got a direct entry into the next year's Masters event! A unique opportunity to play with the likes of Carlsen, Caruana, Giri & co. This is how things stood at the start of the final round:

Adhiban and Dreev were tied on 8.5/12 and Safarli was just half point away with 8.0/12

In case of a tie, Adhiban had the best tiebreak as he had beaten both Dreev and Safarli in their head to head encounters. 

Dreev tried really hard but was unable to breakthrough the defenses of his much lower rated opponent Miguoel Admiraal
Eltaj Safarli was concentration personified as he beat Nino Batsiashvili and joined Alexey Dreev on the leaderboard with 9.0/13
It all hinged on Adhiban's game against Samuel Sevian. Adhiban who had the black pieces was in a precarious situation. While a tie in points would be in his favour, he couldn't really play it safe because Dreev had excellent chances of beating his FM opponent. The Indian player needed to choose a fighting opening and he decided to go for the Najdorf against 1.e4. The game was quite complicated. Sevian even sacrificed an exchange, but Adhiban could trade pieces at regular intervals and reach an endgame where he had absolutely no chance of losing. When he saw that Dreev had drawn his game he decided to offer a draw, which was promptly accepted and the Indian lad had done it! Adhiban had become the champion!
Immense concentration and control on nerves is what is required when everything depends on that one crucial game
That moment when you know that you have won the event, but try to contain your excitement!
With a performance of 2703 Adhiban won the title!
An elegant trophy + a huge smile = best combo!

A short interview with B. Adhiban

SS: How does it feel to be the Tata Steel Challengers champion and get entry into the Masters section for 2017?

 

BA: Yeah, it really feels great. But I would have been happier if I was able to maintain a better level of play in my last three games and the one against Jorden van Foreest.

 

 

SS: Which was your favourite game of the event?

 

BA: They were surely the ones against Eltaj Safarli and Alexey Dreev. In my game against Eltaj I was basically out of book after the third move. I was able to grind out an equal position and eventually convert it after some adventures. And against Dreev it was a nice piece of preparation and later I figured out the best way to continue and won the game in nice style.

 

 

SS: Do you rate this tournament victory as the biggest result of your career until now?

 

BA: Yes, this is definitely one of the biggest wins of my career so far!

 

 

SS: How do you plan to celebrate?

 

BA: As of now there are no plans. The result hasn't fully sunk in yet!

Magnus Carlsen won the Masters section with 9.0/13
The perfect settings at the closing ceremony
A proud moment for every Indian chess fan as Adhiban shares the limelight with the current World Champion
I wrote to Adhiban after the event asking him when he would be back in India so that we could have a detailed interview with him. To which he replied, "I was just thinking I can write the entire report myself if you are interested!" 

All I can say is, Adhiban please go ahead and send us your experience as soon as you can! Your chess fans in India as well as all over the world are waiting to read the story of your thrilling victory!

Previous Reports:

Adhiban off to a flier!

17/01/2016 - The Tata Steel tournament kicked off on the 16th of January. This year we have only one Indian in the fray, B.Adhiban, who is playing in the Challengers section. The 23-year-old, who is the second seed in the event, got off to a great start, winning his first round game against Nijat Abasov from Azerbaijan. A cute little tactic sealed the deal. In depth game analysis by IM Sagar Shah.

Adhiban crushes Dreev!

23/01/2016 - Both of them were off to a flier and were leading together with 5.0/6. But their paths had to cross each other and that happened in the seventh round. Adhiban vs Dreev - was the big clash of the round and maybe the entire Challengers event. The Indian player came amazingly prepared to the game and simply blew his experienced opponent of the board with some powerful moves! A resounding victory for Adhiban in just 24 moves! We have in-depth analysis.

Fighting back like a true champion!

28/01/2016 - Adhiban lost his previous round game to Jorden van Foreest. This meant that Eltaj Safarli caught up with him on the leaderboard with 6.5/9. As luck would have it Eltaj and Adhiban faced off against each other in the tenth round and the Indian player emerged victorious, thereby cementing his chances for a first place finish with three rounds to go. Pictures and game analysis from Wijk Aan Zee.

The Challenger is now a Master!

01/02/2016 - It was edge of the seat entertainment as the last round of the Tata Steel Challengers saw three players with a chance to win the title. In the end it was the 23-year-old from Chennai who drew his final round game and came out victorious. B. Adhiban not only played some great games of chess but also defended skillfully in nearly lost positions. His fighting abilities and never-say-die spirit are the reasons why he has earned a spot in the next years Masters! We have the final report and a short interview with the winner.