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Surya and Padmini shine at the Keres Memorial

by Sagar Shah - 22/01/2016

The Keres Memorial- ACP Open 2016 was held from the 7th-10th of January 2016. Surya Shekhar Ganguly and Padmini Rout were the only two Indian representatives at the event. They played some fantastic chess and came back with great laurels. While Ganguly finished joint second, Padmini accounted for the biggest scalp of her chess career! We have pictures and game analysis from the town of Tallinn.

Pictures by Marek Kolk

The Keres Memorial – ACP Open, held from the 7th- 10th of January 2016, was won by Igor Kovalenko. This tournament was held as a tribute to the great Paul Keres who would have completed 100 years on 7th January 2016, were he alive.

Paul Keres was an Estonian grandmaster and the strongest player to have never played for the World Championship title. In fact after his first place in the 1938 AVRO tournament in Holland he was regarded as the natural successor to the reigning world champion Alexander Alekhine.

Talinn is situated on the northern coast of Estonia near the Baltic Sea

Keres beat the most number of World Champions in his life – nine of them, right from Capablanca upto Fischer. Two grandmasters, Viktor Korchnoi and Alexander Beliavsky, came very close to him with wins against eight World Champions. In 2013, Magnus Carlsen won the highest title and Korchnoi and Beliavsky equaled Keres’ record.

 Three World Champion slayers!

The Keres Memorial - ACP Open 2016 was an eleven round Swiss tournament with a time control of 15 minutes for the entire game with an increment of 10 seconds per move. There were in all prizes worth €15,000, which included special prizes of €5,000 only for ACP Premium members. The tournament attracted a total of 178 players from 21 countries, and 36 of them were grandmasters. Some big names like Peter Svidler and Boris Gelfand were seen in action at the event.

The tournament was won by Igor Kovalenko, half a point ahead of others, with 9.0/11 (picture by Vladimir Barsky)
Only two Indians played at the event - Surya Shekhar Ganguly and Padmini Rout. But both of them did something special at the event. While Ganguly finished joint second, Padmini accounted for the highest rated player of her chess career.

Surya Shekhar Ganguly from India finished fourth with 8.5/11

Of all the games that Ganguly played the most impressive one was surely his win over Pavel Tregubov. The game was filled with mind boggling complications and the fact that Surya could navigate them to perfection shows how strong he really is.

Ganguly found an amazing move at this point. Can you do the same?
[Event "25th Keres Memorial - ACP Open"]
[Site "Tallinn, Meriton Hotel"]
[Date "2016.01.10"]
[Round "9.5"]
[White "Ganguly, Surya Shekhar"]
[Black "Tregubov, Pavel"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C18"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "61"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:00:24"]
[BlackClock "0:00:19"]
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Ne7 7. Qg4 Qc7 8.
Qxg7 Rg8 9. Qxh7 cxd4 10. Ne2 Nbc6 11. f4 dxc3 {This is all standard stuff in
the French Winawer. Now Surya goes for a line which is less popular than the
main move 12.Qd3.} 12. h4 $5 b6 $5 {This is the idea square for Black to
develop his bishop in the Winawer. However, it takes an extra tempo as
compared to Bd7. Is the extra tempo important or the better placement of the
piece - not so easy to understand!} 13. h5 Bb7 14. h6 {What happened to
development of pieces and rules like that?!! Well all that can wait, White
wants to get a new queen!} Rg6 $1 (14... O-O-O 15. Qxf7 {is not so great.}) 15.
a4 {As Ganguly told me after the game, he had seen until 21.e6! when playing
this move a4! All that I could after hearing that was bring back my jaw to its
place!} Nf5 16. g4 $1 (16. Qh8+ Kd7 17. Qxa8 {Doesn't work due to} Rxh6 $1 $17
{and now the queen on a8 hangs and so does the rook on h1.}) 16... Rxg4 17. Bh3
(17. Qh8+ Kd7 18. Qxa8 Bxa8 19. h7 Nb4 {And the new queen cannot do anything
against the black attack.} 20. h8=Q Nxc2+ 21. Kd1 Qc4 $19 {That's the
punishment you get for not developing your pieces.}) 17... Rg6 18. Bxf5 exf5
19. Qh8+ Kd7 20. Qxa8 Rxh6 21. e6+ $1 {This move is what Surya had foreseen
when he played the move 15.a4.} Rxe6 {This move is almost forced. The game is
still not over because even though Black is a rook down he still has activity
and the king on e1 is quite weak.} (21... fxe6 22. Rxh6 Bxa8 23. Rh7+ $18) (
21... Kxe6 $2 22. Rxh6+ $18) (21... Ke7 22. Ba3+ $1 $18) 22. Qf8 (22. Qh8 Ba6
$19) 22... Nd4 (22... Ba6 23. Qxf7+ Ne7 24. Qxe6+ Kxe6 25. Nd4+ $18) 23. Rh7 $1
Kc6 (23... Rxe2+ {was the best move.} 24. Kd1 $1 {White king is safe for the
time being and the black king is in trouble.} Qd8 $1 25. Rxf7+ (25. Qxf7+ Qe7
26. Qxe7+ Rxe7 27. Rxe7+ Kxe7 $14 {is slightly better for White but could end
in a draw.}) 25... Re7 26. Rxe7+ Qxe7 27. Qxe7+ Kxe7 $14 {Also leads to the
same position where White can try for a win but I am not sure whether he will
be successful.}) 24. Rh6 $1 {A cool move!} Qd7 25. Be3 $1 {Making use of the
fact that the rook on e6 cannot really move at all.} Nxc2+ 26. Kf2 d4 (26...
Nxe3 27. Rxe6+ Qxe6 28. Nd4+ $18) 27. Nxd4+ Nxd4 28. Rc1 Rxh6 29. Rxc3+ Kd5 30.
Qxh6 Qxa4 31. Rd3 {A totally brilliant game by Ganguly who showed some amazing
feel for the dynamics in the position in spite of this being a rapid game.} 1-0


This was a perfect example of what a strong calculator this player from West Bengal is. The variations were difficult to assess even in a classical game, and Ganguly found all the resources in just a 15-minute encounter! Hats off!

The top three women’s prizes were won by Alexandra Kosteniuk, Pia Cramling and Padmini Rout. A special mention must be made of Kosteniuk who scored 8.0/11 and finished tenth in such a strong field. (Picture by Vladimir Barsky)

22-year-old Padmini Rout had a superb result when she beat Pavel Eljanov in the eighth round (picture by Vladimir Barsky)

The India number three has sent us her game (which cannot be found anywhere else as it has not been published) which we now present to you:

[Event "25th Keres Memorial -ACP Open"]
[Site "Tallinn"]
[Date "2016.01.09"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Padmini, Rout"]
[Black "Eljanov, Pavel"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B11"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "71"]
[EventDate "2016.01.09"]
[EventCountry "EST"]
1. e4 c6 {Pavel goes for his trusted Caro Kann Defence.} 2. Nf3 d5 3. Nc3 Bg4
4. h3 Bxf3 5. Qxf3 Nf6 6. d3 e6 7. Bd2 Bb4 8. O-O-O d4 9. Nb1 Bxd2+ 10. Nxd2
O-O {A position with opposite side castling makes the game very exciting.} 11.
g4 c5 12. g5 Nfd7 13. h4 Nc6 14. Qg3 a5 {Both players rush to attack their
opponent's kings. But now Padmini makes a highly unconventional decision.} 15.
a4 $5 (15. h5 $1 {was indeed the right way to proceed and would have given
White a strong attack.} a4 16. a3 b5 17. Bh3 b4 18. Rdg1 bxa3 19. bxa3 Qb6 20.
g6 $18 {And this illustrative line shows that it is White who reaches first at
his opponent's doorsteps.}) 15... Qe7 16. f4 Nb6 17. b3 Nb4 18. Nc4 Na2+ 19.
Kd2 $6 (19. Kb2 Nc3 20. Re1 Nxc4+ 21. dxc4 {And the king is surely safer on b2
than it would have been on d2.}) 19... Nxc4+ 20. dxc4 b5 $5 {Highly
imaginative play by Eljanov but maybe this wasn't required.} (20... Nc3 21. Re1
Qd6 $15 {Looked like a better way for Black to continue.}) 21. cxb5 (21. axb5
a4 22. bxa4 Nc3 $17 {would have opened lines against the white king.}) 21... c4
$6 {When you have said A you must say B.} (21... Nc3 {was better.}) 22. Bxc4
Qb4+ 23. Ke2 $1 Nc3+ 24. Kf3 Nxd1 25. Rxd1 {The king is safe on f3 and White
has two pawns for the exchange. This is a clear advantage for White.} Rac8 (
25... Qc3+ 26. Bd3 $16) 26. Qf2 e5 (26... Rxc4 27. bxc4 Qxa4 28. Rxd4 $18 {
is insufficient compensation for Black.}) 27. fxe5 Qe7 28. Rxd4 Qxe5 29. Rd5
Qb2 30. Kg2 {The position is stabilised and White has three pawns for an
exchange. This is not something too difficult to convert for a player of
Padmini's class. She keeps her nerve and makes it look easy.} Kh8 31. Rf5 f6
32. e5 Rfe8 33. exf6 gxf6 34. Rxf6 Rcd8 35. Rf7 Qc3 36. Bd3 {To beat a world
class player like Eljanov who has a classical rating of 2760 is a great feat
no matter which format of the game we are talking about.} 1-0


Beating world number 13, no matter which format it is, is truly an amazing achievement

Final Ranking after 11 Rounds

Rk. SNo     Name sex FED Rtg Pts.  TB1   TB2   TB3 
1 2   GM Kovalenko Igor   LAT 2734 9,0 73,5 67,5 0,0
2 10   GM Howell David W L   ENG 2646 8,5 73,5 67,5 0,0
3 3   GM Gelfand Boris   ISR 2733 8,5 73,0 67,5 0,0
4 11   GM Ganguly Surya Shekhar   IND 2615 8,5 71,0 65,0 0,0
5 14   GM Duda Jan-Krzysztof   POL 2603 8,0 76,0 70,0 0,0
6 12   GM Georgiev Kiril   BUL 2612 8,0 76,0 69,5 0,0
7 1   GM Svidler Peter   RUS 2736 8,0 75,5 69,0 0,0
8 6   GM Berkes Ferenc   HUN 2685 8,0 73,0 67,0 0,0
9 9   GM Motylev Alexander   RUS 2651 8,0 72,5 67,0 0,0
10 27   GM Kosteniuk Alexandra w RUS 2514 8,0 71,0 65,5 0,0

Results of all the players

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