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Anurag Mhamal is 2498 – a whisker away from becoming India’s 48th GM!

by Aditya Pai - 07/07/2017

International Master from Goa, Anurag Mhamal, had a splendid outing at the XXVII Open Internacional de Gros held in San Sebastian, Spain. Scoring 7.5/9, he not only bagged first place but also a GM norm - his fifth GM norm! But that's not it, he also gained 21 Elo points, taking his rating to 2498. You heard it right, just two more points and Goa will have its first Grandmaster and India, its 48th! And the best part, he's playing at the Benasque Open which started yesterday. So all of this might just happen within the next few days!

After nine rounds of the XXVII Open Internacional de Gros, Anurag Mhamal emerged as the clear winner scoring an undefeated 7.5/9. The tournament was held from June 23-30, 2017 in the resort town of San Sebastian in Spain. With this stellar performance, Mhamal was able to skyrocket his rating by a whopping 21 points and has reached 2498 in live ratings. What’s all the more important is the fact that he has already won five Grandmaster norms – two more than the required number! This means the Goan lad is merely 2 Elo points away from becoming Goa’s first and India’s forty-eighth Grandmaster.

The picturesque sunset of the resort town 


Anurag picking the title prize

Talking to ChessBase India about his win, Anurag said that he’d kept his schedule such that he had ample rest days between his tournaments in Europe this time and this really helped him stay focused. He has been in Europe since the 8th of June and has played two tournaments so far, the first one being Forni De Sopra International Chess Open in Italy. He went on to add that his penultimate round game against the Spaniard, Alfonso Romero Holmes was crucial for him in order to stay in contention for the title. Things got tough as Mhamal made a few inaccuracies early in that game and ended up in an inferior position. But eventually he was able to create some threats and wriggle out of danger. As play proceeded, Holmes failed to find the most accurate continuations and later simply crumbled under the shadow of time trouble. With this win, Mhamal was a clear point ahead of the field. Since a draw would have sealed his first place, he played it safe and took a draw in 20 moves against the English GM Glenn Flear with the white pieces.

[Event "27th Gros Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.06.29"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Romero Holmes, Alfonso"]
[Black "Anurag, Mhamal"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A16"]
[PlyCount "70"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 c5 3. Nf3 g6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Bg7 6. e4 O-O 7. Be2 Nc6 8.
Nc2 b6 9. O-O Bb7 10. Bg5 h6 11. Be3 Rc8 12. f3 e6 13. Qd6 Na5 14. Na3 Ba6 15.
b3 Nd5 16. Nxd5 exd5 17. Qxd5 Qe7 18. Nc2 Bxa1 19. Rxa1 Kh7 20. Qd2 h5 21. Rd1
Nc6 22. Bf4 Ne5 23. Ne3 f6 24. Nd5 Qe6 25. Be3 Bb7 26. Nc3 f5 27. Nb5 fxe4 28.
f4 Nd3 29. Bxd3 exd3 30. Qxd3 d5 31. Nd4 Qg4 32. Nf3 d4 33. Ng5+ Kh6 34. g3
dxe3 35. Qd7 Rc7 0-1

Anurag in action at XXVII Open Internacional de Gros

Mhamal was only a couple of points shy of the coveted 2500 rating mark going into the final round. But in a very pragmatic manner, he gave precedence to winning the tournament over completing the requirements for his GM title. Sharing his thoughts about this, he said, since he is going to play in the Benasque Open tournament after this one anyway, he will have many more shots at gaining those Elo points. It is just amazing how calmly he is heading towards achieving the greatest milestone of his career.

Indians grabbed top spots at the 27th Open Internacional de Gros. L to R: Martinez Duany Lelys Stanley, Anurag Mhamal, GA Stany

As for the tournament overall, Anurag seems to be extremely satisfied with his results. And when asked about his favourite game from the event, he said his fourth round game against his fellow countryman, G A Stany (who finished second at the event) was his favourite. Also, he has been kind enough to annotate the game for our readers. Do find it below.

[Event "San Sebastian Open 2017"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.04.02"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Stany, G.A."]
[Black "Anurag"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C48"]
[WhiteElo "2489"]
[BlackElo "2466"]
[Annotator "Anurag Mhamal"]
[PlyCount "70"]
[EventDate "2017.04.01"]
[EventRounds "9"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bb5 Bd6 5. d3 h6 6. a3 $5 {At first I just
thought of it as an idea to secure the light squared bishop which made me
blitz my reply.} O-O $6 {The engine may or may not agree with my evaluation
but the next move reveals the hidden idea of the subtle 6.a3} (6... a6 7. Bc4
Bc5 {Shytaj,L (2472)-Adams,M (2704) EU-ch 11th Rijeka 2010 (1) 0-1 transposing
to the giuoco}) ({or} 6... Nd4 {a la Rubinstein would have been the better
choice}) 7. g4 $1 {A typical maneuver in many recent games.} Nd4 {seemed quite
natural to me over the board to create some sort of counterplay fast.} 8. Bc4
$2 ({After} 8. g5 hxg5 9. Bxg5 c6 10. Bc4 Be7 11. Rg1 {Here I was planning for}
d5 (11... d6 {may be even more accurate but I found it to be a little too slow
otb.}) 12. Bxf6 Bxf6 13. exd5 cxd5 14. Bxd5 Bf5 {I felt I would have had some
compensation}) 8... Nxg4 9. Rg1 Qf6 $1 10. Rxg4 Nxf3+ 11. Ke2 c6 12. Rg3 (12.
Be3 b5 (12... Bxa3 {looked interesting during analysis but after} 13. Rxa3 d5
14. Rg3 dxc4 15. Rxf3 Bg4 16. Qh1 cxd3+ 17. cxd3 {and somehow white escapes
the bind and does fine}) 13. Ba2 Kh7 14. Qh1 Nd4+ 15. Kd2 g6) 12... Nd4+ 13.
Kf1 b5 14. Ba2 Bc5 15. Qh5 Kh7 16. Bg5 $6 {This immediately releases all the
tension.} (16. Nd1 $5 d6 (16... Ne6) {the addition of b4 leads to} 17. b4 (17.
Bg5 {leads to a better version of the actual game for white} Qg6 18. Qh4 Nf3
19. Rxf3 Qxg5 20. Qxg5 hxg5 21. Rxf7 Bh3+ 22. Ke1 Kg6 $1 23. Rxf8 Rxf8) 17...
Bb6 18. Bg5 Qg6 19. Qxg6+ fxg6 20. Be7 Rf3 21. Rxf3 Nxf3 22. Bxd6 Bh3+ 23. Ke2
Bg4) 16... Qg6 17. Qh4 Nf3 ({Stockfish suggests} 17... f5 {but fortunately,
the need for simplification triumphed complications!}) 18. Rxf3 Qxg5 19. Qxg5
hxg5 20. Rxf7 d5 $1 {I was quite happy to have found this move a few moves
back.} 21. Rxf8 Bh3+ 22. Ke1 Rxf8 $19 23. Nd1 (23. exd5 Rxf2 24. Rd1 Be3 25.
dxc6 Rxc2) 23... dxe4 24. dxe4 Rf4 25. c3 Rg4 26. b4 Rg1+ 27. Ke2 Bb6 28. Bb3
Bg4+ 29. Kd2 Bf3 30. a4 Bxf2 31. axb5 cxb5 32. Ra5 Be1+ 33. Ke3 g4 34. Rxb5 g3
35. hxg3 Rxg3 0-1

Final Ranking after 9 Rounds:

Rk. SNo   Name Rtg Club/City Pts.  TB1   TB2   TB3 
1 5 IM Anurag Mhamal 2466   7,5 50,0 54,5 40,5
2 4 IM Stany G.A. 2489   7,0 46,5 51,5 34,5
3 3 GM Martinez Duany Lelys Stanley 2494   6,5 48,5 53,5 36,5
4 8 GM Romero Holmes Alfonso 2438 Eus 6,5 45,5 50,0 34,0
5 6 GM Flear Glenn C 2455 Eus 6,5 45,5 49,5 34,5
6 10 GM Lazarev Vladimir 2416   6,5 43,0 46,5 31,0
7 22 WGM Tsatsalashvili Keti 2248 Cat 6,5 41,0 45,0 31,5
8 7 IM Velten Paul 2449 Eus 6,0 49,5 54,0 35,0
9 1 IM Andres Gonzalez Alberto 2518 Ast 6,0 49,0 53,0 36,0
10 18 FM Diaz Velandia Jose Manuel 2345 Val 6,0 45,0 48,5 31,0

Complete list of final standings


As mentioned before, Anurag plans to play the Benasque Open which begins on the 6th of July. This would be the third and final tournament of his Euro trip. Just two points away and with 10 rounds in hand, it is quite probable that this 22-year-old might become the first GM from Goa very, very soon! His form has been tremendous in this year. And given that he has already won a strong open tournament just last week, we have all reasons to hope that he will become a Grandmaster within a span of a few days!


Note: Anurag won his first round at the XXXVII Benasque Open and is now on 2498.8. He is playing a 2120 rated player today. If he wins he will gain 1.1 Elo points. That would take him to 2499.9! So, to be on the safe side he must win round three as well.

Anurag's achievements covered in Indian newspapers:

Coverage by one of India's biggest newspapers - Times of India

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