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Asian Individual: Sethu and Bhakti are champions!

by Priyadarshan Banjan - 04/06/2016

Things looked slightly critical for Indians in the middle of the Asian Continental Championship 2016. With five places in the World Cup 2017 up for grabs in the Open, the competition was expectedly tough and two Indians made it. In the women's section, Bhakti Kulkarni delivered a regal performance to take home the gold. An illustrated report with analysis.

Asian Individual: Sethu and Bhakti are champions!

Photos by Eugeny Smolnikov

 

Most of the great cities of the world are characterised by the inherent social and demographic conflicts that are ingrained in them. It is often starkly visible in the form of the old relics and customs and the modern ways that succeeded them, without really killing their predecessors. Tashkent qualifies — a part of it is a new-age metropolis, the most happening place in Uzbekistan, a part of it a leafy Soviet-era city, and also, a part of it is a home away from home represented by sprawling greenery. The Uzbekistan Chess Federation on behalf of Asian Chess Federation and FIDE is hosting the Asian Continental Chess Championships (Open and Women’s) from 25 May — 5 June 2016 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The tournament is a nine-round-swiss with the time control of 90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an addition of 30 seconds per move starting from move one.

 

Things looked slightly critical for Indians in the middle of the Asian Continental Championship 2016.

GM S.P. Sethuraman (2647) was moving along at a good speed when in the sixth round, he ended up losing to Vietnamese GM Le Quang Liem (2718).

GM B. Adhiban (2665) suffered a shock defeat in the second round itself and had recovered well, until, in the penultimate round, he faced... Right, GM Liem, again!
[Event "Asian Continental Chess Championships"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.06.02"]
[Round "8.1"]
[White "Adhiban, B."]
[Black "Le, Quang Liem"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C52"]
[WhiteElo "2665"]
[BlackElo "2718"]
[PlyCount "145"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2003.06.08"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
[WhiteClock "0:13:36"]
[BlackClock "0:11:03"]
1. e4 {0} e5 {120} 2. Nf3 {0} Nc6 {23} 3. Bc4 {0} Bc5 {21} 4. b4 {0} Bxb4 {22}
5. c3 {0} Ba5 {37} 6. d4 {0} d6 {33} 7. Qb3 {0} Qd7 {21} 8. Nbd2 {0} Bb6 {270}
9. O-O {1} Na5 {151} 10. Qc2 {2} Ne7 {111} 11. dxe5 {118} O-O {27} 12. Ba3 {213
} Ng6 {415} 13. exd6 {314} cxd6 {33} 14. Nd4 {238} Bc5 {426} 15. Bb4 {364} Nxc4
{207} 16. Nxc4 {9} Bxb4 {25} 17. cxb4 {7} d5 {6} 18. exd5 {152} Qxd5 {7} 19.
Rfd1 {78} Bg4 {213} 20. f3 {314} Rac8 {168} 21. Rac1 {770} Be6 {919} 22. Nxe6 {
234} Qxe6 {3} 23. Qe4 {234} Qa6 {95} 24. a3 {56} h6 {198} 25. Na5 {926} b6 {238
} 26. Nc4 {499} Rc7 {301} 27. Rc2 {553} Rfc8 {511} 28. Rdc1 {1} Qa4 {106} 29.
Kf2 {15} Re8 {231} 30. Qf5 {92} Re6 {243} 31. g3 {644} b5 {471} 32. Ne3 {351}
Rxc2+ {19} 33. Qxc2 {14} Qxa3 {21} 34. Qc3 {4} Qxc3 {123} 35. Rxc3 {1} Ne7 {24}
36. f4 {45} Kf8 {61} 37. Ng4 {173} Nc6 {139} 38. f5 {37} Rd6 {10} 39. f6 {7} g6
{159} 40. Kg2 {0} Re6 {0} 41. Nxh6 {0} Rxf6 {0} 42. g4 {0} Rd6 {0} 43. g5 {0}
Ke8 {0} 44. Rf3 {0} Rd2+ {0} 45. Kg1 {0} Rd7 {0} 46. Rf4 {0} Nd4 {0} 47. Rf6 {0
} Ne2+ {0} 48. Kg2 {0} Nc3 {0} 49. Rc6 {0} Nd5 {0} 50. Rc5 {0} a6 {0} 51. Ng4 {
0} Ke7 {0} 52. Ne5 {0} Rd6 {0} 53. Kf3 {0} Nxb4 {0} 54. Rc7+ {0} Ke6 {0} 55.
Nxf7 {0} Rd2 {86} 56. h4 {0} Nd5 {32} 57. Nd8+ {0} Ke5 {13} 58. Nf7+ {0} Kd4 {
95} 59. Rc6 {0} b4 {61} 60. Rxg6 {0} b3 {9} 61. Rg8 {0} b2 {70} 62. Rb8 {0} Kc5
{82} 63. Rc8+ {0} Nc7 {49} 64. Rxc7+ {183} Kb6 {7} 65. Rc8 {3} Kb7 {9} 66. Rd8
{6} Rxd8 {29} 67. Nxd8+ {1} Kc8 {12} 68. Ne6 {58} b1=Q {12} 69. Nf4 {3} Kd7 {50
} 70. h5 {7} Qf5 {51} 71. g6 {4} Qg5 {9} 72. Ke4 {13} Kd6 {13} 73. Kd4 {-error}
0-1

 

In the final round, Liem took on GM Surya Shekhar Ganguly. Ganguly won and with 6.5/9, finished eighth.
[Event "Asian Continental Chess Championships"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.06.03"]
[Round "9.2"]
[White "Le, Quang Liem"]
[Black "Ganguly, Surya Shekhar"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D45"]
[WhiteElo "2718"]
[BlackElo "2654"]
[PlyCount "154"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2003.06.08"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
[WhiteClock "0:25:37"]
[BlackClock "0:01:45"]
1. d4 {57} Nf6 {22} 2. c4 {14} e6 {8} 3. Nf3 {10} d5 {23} 4. Nc3 {14} c6 {25}
5. e3 {24} Nbd7 {21} 6. Qc2 {22} Bd6 {15} 7. Bd3 {29} O-O {55} 8. O-O {13} dxc4
{17} 9. Bxc4 {12} b5 {6} 10. Be2 {37} Qe7 {40} 11. a3 {30} a6 {236} 12. Ng5 {
670} Bb7 {403} 13. Bf3 {642} Rfc8 {245} 14. Bd2 {682} h6 {96} 15. Nge4 {14}
Nxe4 {27} 16. Bxe4 {97} Nf6 {71} 17. Rfd1 {543} c5 {139} 18. Bxb7 {230} Qxb7 {
77} 19. Be1 {45} cxd4 {633} 20. Rxd4 {10} Be5 {11} 21. Rd3 {183} Ne4 {127} 22.
Rc1 {92} a5 {154} 23. Qd1 {55} Nc5 {392} 24. Rd2 {10} a4 {367} 25. Rcc2 {294}
Bf6 {546} 26. Qf3 {197} b4 {1007} 27. axb4 {227} Qxb4 {27} 28. Nd1 {263} Nd3 {
181} 29. Rxc8+ {479} Rxc8 {6} 30. Qe2 {7} Nxe1 {51} 31. Qxe1 {17} Rc1 {67} 32.
g3 {162} Qb3 {478} 33. Qe2 {110} Bxb2 {92} 34. Rxb2 {68} Qxd1+ {23} 35. Qxd1 {6
} Rxd1+ {6} 36. Kg2 {5} Rd8 {8} 37. Ra2 {9} Ra8 {5} 38. Kf3 {55} g5 {218} 39.
Ke4 {196} g4 {126} 40. Kf4 {0} h5 {0} 41. Kg5 {0} Ra5+ {0} 42. Kh6 {0} Kf8 {0}
43. e4 {0} Ke7 {0} 44. e5 {0} f5 {0} 45. Kg7 {0} a3 {160} 46. Kg6 {0} Kd7 {53}
47. Kf6 {0} Ra6 {27} 48. Kf7 {0} Ra5 {8} 49. Kf6 {0} Ra4 {21} 50. Kf7 {0} f4 {
129} 51. Kf6 {0} f3 {46} 52. Kf7 {0} Ra6 {32} 53. Kf6 {0} Ra5 {23} 54. Kf7 {0}
Ra8 {352} 55. Kf6 {0} Kc6 {62} 56. Kxe6 {0} Kc5 {4} 57. Kf7 {40} Kb4 {9} 58.
Ra1 {44} a2 {19} 59. Kg6 {8} Kb3 {62} 60. Kxh5 {9} Rg8 {34} 61. Rd1 {222} Kc2 {
43} 62. Re1 {8} Kb2 {65} 63. e6 {24} a1=Q {9} 64. Rxa1 {6} Kxa1 {4} 65. e7 {7}
Kb2 {7} 66. e8=Q {8} Rxe8 {5} 67. Kxg4 {4} Kc3 {15} 68. Kxf3 {21} Kd4 {6} 69.
Kf4 {30} Rf8+ {18} 70. Kg5 {9} Rxf2 {134} 71. h4 {5} Ke5 {4} 72. h5 {9} Ke6 {12
} 73. g4 {56} Kf7 {5} 74. Kh6 {5} Rg2 {130} 75. g5 {7} Rg1 {17} 76. g6+ {13}
Kg8 {33} 77. g7 {8} Ra1 {6} 0-1

 

GM Wei Yi (2694) was comfortably positioned in the lead after eight rounds with 6.5/8. For Sethu, who had the black pieces with 6.0/8, this was a must-win game.
[Event "15th Asian Continental"]
[Site "Tashkent UZB"]
[Date "2016.06.03"]
[Round "9.1"]
[White "Wei, Yi"]
[Black "Sethuraman, S.P."]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D45"]
[WhiteElo "2694"]
[BlackElo "2647"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "148"]
[EventDate "2016.05.26"]
[SourceDate "2003.06.08"]
{To beat Wei Yi with the black piece is never easy. And that too in the final
round with a half point deficit is really difficult. But Sethuraman thrives
under such pressure and once again proves that he can beat anyone in any game.
Just like he beat Tomashevsky in the last round of Qatar Masters 2015 with the
black pieces.} 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. e3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. Nf3 Nbd7 {The Meran is
the perfect choice for a must win situation. This was also what Ganguly played
on board two against Le Quang Liem and won his game with the black pieces.} 6.
Qc2 Bd6 7. g4 $5 {Wei Yi's choice can be questioned at this point. When he was
in the lead why did he have to take so many risks? But this is the way he
plays chess and this is the way he has reached above 2700! You cannot change
the style of a chess player so easily.} Nxg4 8. Rg1 Qf6 9. Rxg4 Qxf3 10. Rxg7
Nf6 11. Rg5 {The threat is now Bg2 to trap the queen.} Qh1 12. Bd2 {The first
new move of the game.} Bd7 13. O-O-O Qxh2 14. f4 Rg8 15. Bd3 O-O-O 16. cxd5
exd5 17. Nb5 Bb8 18. Qc5 b6 19. Nxa7+ {A very interesting piece sacrifice.} (
19. Nd6+ Kc7 20. Qa3 $11 {was round about even.}) 19... Kb7 (19... Bxa7 20. Qd6
{Threatening Ba6.} Kb7 21. Qxf6 $16) 20. Qe7 Qh6 $1 {Strong defence.} 21. Nxc6
Kxc6 22. Kb1 (22. Qa3 $1 Bg4 (22... Kb7 23. Qa6+ $18) 23. Rxg4 Nxg4 24. Kb1 {
With good attacking chances.}) 22... Kb7 {Black is now a piece up and White
needs to show his compensation.} 23. Rc1 Bc7 $1 24. Rf5 Ne4 25. Bxe4 dxe4 26.
Rf6 Rg6 27. Rxf7 Rc6 28. Rxh7 Rxc1+ 29. Bxc1 Qc6 {White has three pawns but he
has clearly lost his attack and initiative. Black's king is more than safe and
he slowly but surely activates his pieces.} 30. Rh2 Rc8 31. Rh7 Be6 32. b3 (32.
Rh6 Bxa2+ $19) 32... Kb8 33. Kb2 Bf5 34. Rf7 Be6 35. Rh7 Rg8 36. Rg7 Re8 37.
Qb4 Rh8 38. Qc3 Rh2+ 39. Bd2 Qxc3+ 40. Kxc3 {It is now just a case of breaking
through because the bishop on d2 is quite passive and the pawns are not going
anywhere.} b5 41. a3 Ba5+ 42. b4 Bc7 43. Rg6 Bd5 44. Rg5 Bc4 45. Rg1 Bd3 {
The perfect spot for the bishop which safeguards the e4 and b5 pawns.} 46. Ra1
Bd6 47. Rg1 Kc7 48. Rg7+ Kc6 49. Rg1 Rf2 50. Rh1 Rg2 51. Ra1 Kd5 52. Rh1 Be7
53. Ra1 Rh2 54. Rg1 Ke6 55. Ra1 {It is actually not so usual to see Wei Yi
being so helpless!} Rh8 56. Kb2 Kf5 57. a4 bxa4 58. Rxa4 Kg4 59. Ra7 Bh4 60.
Rb7 Kf3 61. b5 Rh5 62. b6 Rb5+ 63. Ka3 Bd8 64. f5 Rxf5 65. Bb4 Kxe3 66. Bc5 Rf1
67. Rb8 Ra1+ 68. Kb2 Rb1+ 69. Ka3 Bg5 70. d5+ Ke2 71. Bb4 Bc1+ 72. Ka4 Bd2 73.
Bxd2 Kxd2 74. b7 e3 {This ensured that Sethuraman became the Asian Champion
2016!} 0-1

 

 

GM Deep Sengupta (2543) was fifth with 6.5/9. As it happened, five players from the Open qualified for the World Cup, meaning that Sengupta will join Sethu in World Cup thanks to the spots they won here!

Indian champion GM M. Karthikeyan (2518) had a bumpy tournament but ended with a draw against Uzbek No. 1 GM Rustam Kasimzhanov (2703).

GM Abhijeet Gupta (2654) had a poor tournament and scored on 5.0/9 

GM Aravind Chithambaram (2528) also was on 5.5/9

Final Standings:

Ст.ном Ст.ном.   Имя ФЕД. Рейт. Bdld Очки  Доп1   Доп2   Доп3 
1 9 GM Sethuraman S.P. IND 2647   7,0 0,0 6,0 2551
2 1 GM Le Quang Liem VIE 2718   6,5 0,0 5,0 2605
3 3 GM Wei Yi CHN 2694   6,5 0,0 5,0 2595
4 14 GM Kazhgaleyev Murtas KAZ 2582   6,5 0,0 5,0 2514
5 20 GM Sengupta Deep IND 2543   6,5 0,0 5,0 2438

Check the complete standings here.

 

WGM Bhakti Kulkarni (2296) won the Asian Individual Gold by a comfortable half-point margin. She scored 7.0/9 for the medal and one of the main reasons behind her success is the unlikely choice of her openings in crucial games. With this win, she qualified for the Women's World Championship.

In the fourth round, she employed the Chigorin Defense against the top seed IM Sarasadat Khademalsharieh (2459).

[Event "15th Asian Continental w"]
[Site "Tashkent UZB"]
[Date "2016.05.29"]
[Round "4.3"]
[White "Khademalsharieh, Sarasadat"]
[Black "Kulkarni, Bhakti"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D07"]
[WhiteElo "2459"]
[BlackElo "2296"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "74"]
[EventDate "2016.05.26"]
[SourceDate "2003.06.08"]
1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nc6 {Bhakti came to this tournament armed with the Chigorin
which turned out to be a great decision.} 3. Nf3 Bg4 4. cxd5 Bxf3 5. gxf3 Qxd5
6. e3 e5 7. Nc3 Bb4 8. Bd2 Bxc3 9. bxc3 {This is one of the most important
positions in the opening and in general a good one to improve your
understanding about the game of chess. White has the bishop pair and strong
central pawns where as Black has a flawless pawn structure and two knights.
All in all White should have a theoretical edge but it is not so easy for
White to play as there is no safe parking spot for his king.} Qd6 10. Bd3 Nf6
11. Qc2 O-O (11... O-O-O {is the usual place for the black king. But as White
has done nothing too active Black goes for 0-0.}) 12. O-O Rfd8 13. Rab1 b6 14.
Rfd1 Ne7 15. Bf1 Ng6 16. Qf5 c5 17. Be1 cxd4 18. cxd4 Qc6 $1 {A powerful move
taking aim at f3 pawn and threatening Nh4.} 19. Rbc1 Qb7 20. Qh3 (20. dxe5 Rxd1
21. Rxd1 Nh4 $17 {And the f3 pawn falls.}) 20... exd4 {White's pawn structure
is completely ruined.} 21. Bg2 dxe3 22. fxe3 (22. f4 exf2+ 23. Bxf2 Nxf4 $19)
22... Qe7 23. Bf2 Rxd1+ 24. Rxd1 Qa3 25. f4 Rf8 26. Qf3 Re8 27. Qc6 Qxa2 {
Black has two extra pawns but with the double bishops for her opponent she
should remain careful.} 28. e4 Rf8 29. Qc1 Qe2 30. Rd4 Qg4 31. e5 Nh5 32. h3
Qf5 33. Be3 Nh4 34. Bf2 Nxg2 35. Kxg2 h6 36. Qe3 Rc8 37. Qf3 g6 {Everything is
under control and Sarasadat saw no reason to continue. A very nice win for
Bhakti.} 0-1

 

In the penultimate round, it was crucial for Bhakti to maintain her lead over the field and, once again, she resorts to the Chigorin.

[Event "15th Asian Continental w"]
[Site "Tashkent UZB"]
[Date "2016.06.02"]
[Round "8.1"]
[White "Li, Xueyi"]
[Black "Kulkarni, Bhakti"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D07"]
[WhiteElo "2105"]
[BlackElo "2296"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "80"]
[EventDate "2016.05.26"]
[SourceDate "2003.06.08"]
{It was crucial for Bhakti to win this game to maintain the lead over the
field and once again she goes for the trusted Chigorin Defence.} 1. d4 d5 2. c4
Nc6 3. cxd5 Qxd5 4. e3 e5 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Bd2 Bxc3 7. Bxc3 (7. bxc3 {The
position would be similar to the game against Sarasadat. But here there has
been no Bg4xf3. Li Xueyi tries to play more positionally by taking with the
bishop.}) 7... exd4 8. Ne2 Nf6 9. Nxd4 O-O 10. Nb5 {This is a risky line where
White wins the c7 pawn but lags seriously behind in development.} (10. Nxc6
Qxc6 11. Rc1 {is a safe line for White without too many risks.}) 10... Qg5 11.
h4 Qh6 12. Nxc7 Rb8 $6 {This is surely not a piece of home preparation by
Bhakti as she cannot afford to lose time with this move.} (12... Bg4 {is
definitely the main line.}) 13. Nd5 Ne4 14. Bb5 Nxc3 15. Nxc3 a6 16. Be2 $6 (
16. Bxc6 Qxc6 (16... bxc6 17. Qc2 $14 {is not a huge edge but quite a pleasant
position for White.}) 17. O-O $14) 16... Bf5 17. Qa4 (17. Qd5 Qf6 18. Rd1 Rbd8
19. Qf3 $14) 17... b5 18. Qf4 Qxf4 19. exf4 Nd4 20. Rd1 Rbd8 21. g4 $2 {
The decisive error of the game.} (21. f3 {followed by Kf2 and White would have
survived.}) 21... Bc2 $1 22. Rd2 Rfe8 (22... b4 {was more accurate.} 23. Nd1
Be4 $1 24. Rg1 Nc2+ $19) 23. Rh3 (23. Kf1 {and White can still fight.}) 23...
b4 24. Re3 (24. Nd1 Rxe2+ 25. Rxe2 Nxe2 26. Kxe2 Bxd1+ $19) 24... bxc3 25. bxc3
Nxe2 26. Kxe2 Ba4 {The rest is easy.} 27. c4 Kf8 28. Rxd8 Rxd8 29. Ra3 Bd1+ 30.
Ke3 Bxg4 31. Rxa6 Bf5 32. Ra5 g6 33. Ra3 h5 34. Rc3 Ra8 35. a3 Ke7 36. Kd4 Kd6
37. c5+ Kc6 38. Ke5 Ra5 39. Kf6 Rxc5 40. Re3 Rc2 0-1

 

WGM Soumya Swaminathan (2346) won the bronze medal for her 6.5/9.

Final Standings:

Ст.ном Ст.ном.   Имя ФЕД. Рейт. Bdld Очки  Доп1   Доп2   Доп3 
1 15 WGM Kulkarni Bhakti IND 2296   7,0 0,0 5,0 2318
2 5 WGM Saduakassova Dinara KAZ 2415   6,5 0,5 5,0 2307
3 10 WGM Soumya Swaminathan IND 2346   6,5 0,5 5,0 2279
4 17 WGM Nguyen Thi Mai Hung VIE 2276   6,0 0,0 5,0 2338
5 18 WGM Hoang Thi Bao Tram VIE 2263   6,0 0,0 4,0 2336

Check the complete standings here.

A local dish

The playing arena

Sethu atop the winner's podium as the Asian Individual Champion 2016

Bhakti and Soumya on the podium for their success

While WFM Vaishali R. won a silver in the women's blitz, GM M.R. Lalith Babu was bronze in the men's blitz.

 

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