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An hour of private training with a 2680 GM (2/2)

by Sagar Shah - 12/07/2017

When a close-to-2700 GM wins a super tournament, a lot of things have to go his way. He needs to convert winning positions, he needs to save the inferior endings, and in general he has to showcase tremendous amount of willpower to register such a result. At the 52nd Capablanca Memorial 2017 Sasikiran Krishnan did just that. And in his conversation with IM Sagar Shah via Skype Sasikiran shares all the interesting moments that happened in his games of the tournament. Going over the annotations carefully is a sure shot way of improving your chess.

Sasikiran Krishnan wins 52nd Capablanca Memorial 2017 - Part II

In the first part we dealt with how Sasikiran approached the Capablanca Memorial tournament and how he prepared for it. Sasi spoke about how the Benasque Open 2016 helped him to completely have a new direction towards how he played chess. Along the way he won the Rilton Cup and this was followed by his excellent performance at the Capablanca Memorial 2017, where he won the tournament. We analyzed the first five games of the event with Sasi giving some excellent insights about all the encounters. This included a win over Piorun Kacper in round one and four highly exciting and eventful draws.

 

In case you have missed it, read the first part here:

 

An hour of private training with a 2680 GM (1/2)

The interview was conducted on Skype with Sasi at his home in Chennai, and I in Mumbai

This is how things stood at the end of the first half of the tournament. Ivanchuk was leading, and Sasi was on the second spot, half a point behind him.

The day before the sixth round was a rest day. Sasikiran spent the day as if it was just another day at the tournament. He followed the same schedule of the tournament, and during the period of the round he practiced chess. "I think it is very important to keep your head running", says Sasi. "Because if you relax, you have to remember that the next day you have to be at the board again playing a game of chess. I prefer to spend it normally, just like other days of the tournament, rather than going out for sight seeing", he added.

Focus, concentration and intensity - these are the things I have really admired about Sasi (photo by Amruta Mokal)

Round six: Black against Piorun Kacper

This was a confidence boosting draw for Sasi. After landing into a difficult position from the opening, the Indian GM did well to wriggle out of the mess. But near the 40th move, he made a huge mistake that put him in a very difficult rook endgame. Piorun played really well and was on course to win the game. All he had to do was show some subtle play in the rook endgame. But he failed to do that, and the game was drawn. "Things would have been completely different had I lost this game", said Sasi.

White is clearly better here. How should he continue in order to win the game?

One of the important things I learnt from the above position and Sasi's analysis is that keeping control is good, but when the time demands you need to go into complications and calculate accurately. Only then can you convert such advantageous positions into a win.

[Event "52nd Capablanca Mem Elite"]
[Site "Matanzas CUB"]
[Date "2017.06.02"]
[Round "6.1"]
[White "Piorun, Kacper"]
[Black "Sasikiran, Krishnan"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C54"]
[WhiteElo "2638"]
[BlackElo "2669"]
[Annotator "Sasikiran Krishnan"]
[PlyCount "133"]
[EventDate "2017.05.27"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. e5 d5 7. Be2 {I knew
that Ne4 was the main line. But at the board ...d3 started to look very
interesting.} d3 {It was an over the board decision. I found it interesting
and I saw that I am winning the two bishops, so why not?!} (7... Ne4 {is the
main move.}) 8. exf6 dxe2 9. Qxe2+ Be6 {This is the more human move. You block
with the bishop and you put your king on the other side. And I felt that I
could regain the pawn on g7 anyway. But there are some problems as my opponent
showed in the game.} (9... Kf8 $5 {After the game I checked and saw some
correspondence games have been played with this move. I saw it during the game,
but I did not like Bg5.} 10. Bg5 Qd6 {This looks playable. The main idea is to
have quick development with Bg4 and Re8.}) 10. fxg7 Rg8 11. b4 $1 {This is a
very strong. Now he gets in b5 and has control on the crucial e5 and d4
squares. I think my opponent played really well from this point onwards.} Be7
12. b5 Na5 13. Bf4 Rxg7 14. O-O Bf6 {I was already quite unhappy with my
position. White is threatening a move like Be5 to further increase his control
on the dark squares in the centre. The d4 and e5 squares are completely out of
my control and going into any endgame would be a bad idea because my kingside
pawns are very weak.} 15. Nbd2 Qe7 16. Rfe1 O-O-O 17. Qe3 b6 18. Be5 Rg6 $6 {
This was already a clear error. I had to play Bh3 in this position, but even
then it wouldn't have changed the evaluation much.} (18... Bh3 19. g3 Bxe5 20.
Qxe5 Qxe5 21. Nxe5 $16 {[%cal Gd2f3,Gf3d4] and with the other knight coming to
d4, I think White is clearly better.}) 19. Nd4 Bd7 20. Bxf6 Qxf6 21. Qe5 $6 {
The reason why I don't like this exchange from White's point of view is
because with the queens on the board I could have never been able to play a
move like c5. But with the queens gone I was able to play and free my position
a bit.} (21. g3 $1 Re8 22. Qf3 Qxf3 23. N2xf3 $14 {is much better situation in
which the queen exchange has taken place.}) 21... Qxe5 22. Rxe5 c5 $1 {I
already started to feel a bit positive about my position.} 23. bxc6 Nxc6 24.
Rxd5 Nxd4 25. Rxd4 Rc6 26. Rc1 Be6 27. Rxd8+ Kxd8 28. Nb3 Bxb3 $2 {A bad
decision by me. I felt that after axb3 I can play b5 and a5-a4 and liquidate
the queenside. He will take my a4 pawn, I will take his c3 pawn, but I
completely missed his idea of bringing the king to the queenside to defend the
c3 pawn.} (28... Rc7 {Next up is Ke7 and then Rc4-a4 and it should be a draw.})
29. axb3 a5 30. Kf1 Kc7 (30... b5 31. Ke2 a4 32. bxa4 bxa4 33. Kd3 {The a-pawn
will be lost.}) 31. Ke2 Re6+ 32. Kd3 Rd6+ 33. Kc2 Rg6 34. g3 Rh6 35. Re1 Kd6
36. h4 Rf6 37. f4 Rg6 38. Re3 h5 39. Kd3 Kc6 40. c4 Rd6+ 41. Kc3 Rg6 42. b4
axb4+ 43. Kxb4 Rg8 {Until here White has played very well, but now he goes
wrong.} 44. Ra3 $6 {White had to go for concrete actions with Re5. But Ra3
doesn't spoil anything because he can go for Re5 later also. However, with
this one can realize that he wasn't keen for going into that line.} (44. Re5 $1
{It was important for White to indulge in some sort of concrete calculations.
This move wins.} Rxg3 45. Rxh5 {Now the threat is to play Rf5.} Rg4 46. Rh6+ $1
{An important intermediate check, pushing the king back.} (46. Rf5 {I think he
missed Rh6+ and was thiking about this move.} Rxh4 47. Rf6+ (47. Rxf7 Rh3 48.
f5 Rf3 {and this holds as well.}) 47... Kd7 48. Rxf7+ Ke6 {And this holds for
Black.}) 46... Kd7 {The idea of this move is to save the f7 pawn if White goes
Rf6 with Ke7.} (46... Kc7 $6 47. Rf6 $1 Rxh4 48. Kb5 Rh5+ 49. f5 $18 {White
takes the f7 pawn and is just winning.}) 47. h5 $1 Rh4 (47... Rxf4 48. Rxb6 $18
{followed by h6 is just winning.}) 48. Rxb6 Rxh5 49. Rb5 $1 {An important move.
} Rh1 50. Rd5+ $1 {Such checks are easy to miss, but once you see it you
realize the importance of it.} Kc7 (50... Ke7 {Now the king is cut off and
White can freely advance his c-pawn along with the king.}) (50... Kc6 51. Rf5
Rb1+ 52. Kc3 Rc1+ 53. Kd4 Rd1+ 54. Ke5 Rc1 55. Rxf7 $18) 51. Rf5 $18 {just
wins.}) 44... Rg7 45. Rd3 Rg8 46. Re3 Rg6 47. Rd3 Rg8 48. Kc3 Rg6 49. Re3 Rg8
50. Kb4 Rg6 51. Ra3 Rg7 52. Ra6 $2 {This was clearly an error.} Rxg3 (52... Kc7
{was perhaps more accurate, but Rxg3 draws as well.}) 53. c5 Rg4 54. Rxb6+ Kd7
{This was important so that to Rf6 I can attack his rook.} 55. Rf6 Ke7 $1 56.
Rf5 Rxh4 57. c6 Rh1 58. Kb5 h4 59. c7 Rc1 60. Kb6 h3 61. Rh5 Kd7 62. Rd5+ Ke6
63. Rd3 h2 64. Re3+ Kd7 65. Rd3+ Ke6 66. Re3+ Kd7 67. Rd3+ {Saving this
endgame boosted my confidence. You start to feel as if luck is on your side. 6.
5/10 in the tournament with three wins and seven draws looks very clean, but
when you start analyzing the games you realize how complex things were!}
1/2-1/2

Round seven: White against Vassily Ivanchuk

Sasikiran began the game with 1.e4 and Chucky played the Petroff. After the opening phase of the game, according to Sasikiran, he had a very pleasant advantage. He could improve and open the position whenever he liked with the move g4!, while Ivanchuk didn't really have any active plans. However, Sasi didn't play so well and soon it was the Ukrainian GM who had a better position. Both the players made errors close to the time control, and on move 38 they both agreed to a draw. The final position is interesting and the game could have gone either way, but objectively it should be a draw.

When we reached this position, Sasi quickly said White is better. I was unable to understand. If anyone looks better, it has to be Black I thought. But then Sasi explained to me that White has a clear plan of playing g4 in the position and opening up lines towards the black king. While Black doesn't really have an active plan. This was quite an important revelation for me.

[Event "52nd Capablanca Mem Elite"]
[Site "Matanzas CUB"]
[Date "2017.06.03"]
[Round "7.3"]
[White "Sasikiran, Krishnan"]
[Black "Ivanchuk, Vassily"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C42"]
[WhiteElo "2669"]
[BlackElo "2738"]
[Annotator "Sasikiran Krishnan"]
[PlyCount "76"]
[EventDate "2017.05.27"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Nc3 Nxc3 6. dxc3 Be7 7. Be3 O-O
8. Qd2 Nc6 9. O-O-O Ne5 10. Nxe5 dxe5 11. Bd3 Be6 12. Kb1 Qe8 13. Qe2 f5 14. f3
Qf7 15. b3 {[%cal Gg2g4] By this point I was already quite happy with my
position. The thing is that I have chances to improve my position with the
move g4. While Black on the other hand has no real ways to attack my king. A
move like ...a5 is met with a4 and the queenside attack is going no where.
These are the kinds of positions that one would like to avoid, where your
opponent has all the chances to improve the position and you do not have any.}
Bd6 16. Rhf1 Kh8 17. Bc1 (17. g4 {was already a good move, following it up
with ideas like h4 and h5.}) 17... b6 18. h4 Qh5 19. Qe1 $6 {I am not sure why
I made this move? The h4 pawn is really not so important. If Black takes it,
it opens the line against his king. I should have just improved my position of
the rook. I think from here onwards I started to drift into a bad position.} (
19. Rde1 $14 {The problem with Rg1 and g4 still exists for Black.}) 19... Bd7
$1 {This was a really strong idea. Black comes Bc6, Re8 and already starts to
threaten the move e4.} 20. Bb2 Rae8 21. Be2 Bc6 22. c4 h6 23. g3 Qg6 24. f4 {
This was a very doubled edged decision. I was not very happy that Black could
himself play f4 at some point and hence decided to make this move myself.} Re7
$6 (24... exf4 $1 25. gxf4 {This opens the g-file, but concretely, this was a
powerful move.} Qg2 $1 {An important move.} 26. Rf2 (26. Rg1 Rxe2 $1 (26...
Qxe2 $2 27. Bxg7+ Kh7 28. Qxe2 Rxe2 29. Rxd6 $1 $16 {And White is better.}) 27.
Rxg2 (27. Qc3 Be4 $1 {A very strong queen sacrifice.} 28. Rxg2 Rxg2 $17 {
Once g7 is defended, all of White's pawns are weak and Black is clearly better.
}) 27... Rxe1 28. Bxg7+ Kg8 $19 {and Black is winning.}) 26... Qg3 27. Rd3 Re3
28. Rxe3 Qxe3 29. Qg1 Rf7 30. Bc1 Qe6 $15 {This is still possible to defend,
but I think it is very unpleasant. White has weaknesses and Black is very
solid.}) 25. fxe5 Bxe5 26. Bxe5 (26. Ba3 {I missed this clear opportunity.}
Bxg3 {I was unhappy with this move in my calculations, but White has the
strong move now} (26... Bd6 27. Bxd6 cxd6 28. Bh5 $1 $14 {Already this will
lead to a very pleasant endgame for White. The pawn on d6 is weak. I will have
my bishop on g6 and with the pawn on h5, I will always have threats against
his king.}) 27. Rg1 $1 {which I missed.} Bxe1 28. Rxg6 Rxe2 29. Bxf8 $18 {
And now both g7 and c6 is hanging.}) 26... Rxe5 {After this the game was
around even.} 27. Qf2 Rfe8 28. Bd3 Be4 29. Qf4 Bxd3 30. Rxd3 Qf6 31. Rfd1 R8e7
32. Qd4 Kh7 33. a4 Qe6 34. Kb2 Re4 35. Qc3 Qe5 36. c5 {I thought this was a
strong idea, but the computer doesn't agree with me!} bxc5 37. Rd5 Qxc3+ 38.
Kxc3 f4 (38... f4 39. gxf4 Rxf4 40. h5 {At this point White will pick up the
c5 pawn and also perhaps the one on a7. Black on the other hand will try and
create a passer with g6. It will be a complete mess. I think he was leading
the tournament and was happy with the draw, and I was also quite fine with the
result.}) 1/2-1/2

Look at his concentration! Ivanchuk faces Cuban checkers National Champion Carlos Rivero. The match ended 2-1 in Carlos' favour (photo by Lisychess)

Video of Ivanchuk playing checkers against GM Juan Borges

Round eight: Black against Samuel Shankland

This was the most beautiful game of the tournament for Sasi. I like to call it the "light square symphony". At first glance if you look at the game you might think that Sasi completely outplayed his opponent. But on closer inspection you will realize that Shankland could have repeated the position and agreed for a draw. He was in an ambitious mood and played moves that the position was not yet ready for.

 

Once he got the opportunity, Sasi played all the good move, sacrificed an exchange and won a fine game.

The move made by Sasi in this position was ...Rc4. Why didn't he play ...Rc2? And many times in our annotations we leave it at that. But while talking to him, I realized that Sasi was afraid of the exchange sac with Rxe4 dxe4 Rf2. He was trying to find a way for Black to win as Bb4 is coming up. This is the reason why he gave up on the move, although later he realized that Bg4-e2 will simply win the game.

[Event "52nd Capablanca Mem Elite"]
[Site "Matanzas CUB"]
[Date "2017.06.04"]
[Round "8.2"]
[White "Shankland, Samuel L"]
[Black "Sasikiran, Krishnan"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A20"]
[WhiteElo "2676"]
[BlackElo "2669"]
[Annotator "Sasikiran Krishnan"]
[PlyCount "118"]
[EventDate "2017.05.27"]
1. c4 e5 2. g3 Nc6 3. Bg2 f5 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. e3 e4 6. d3 Bb4 7. Nge2 d5 8. cxd5
Qxd5 9. dxe4 Qxd1+ 10. Kxd1 O-O {By this point I had barely spent four minutes,
while my opponent had already used more than half an hour. This was all my
preparation. It was pretty old and hence I had to recollect my lines during
the game.} 11. f4 $6 {This is a clear error. I had looked at it in my
preparation but could not remember on the board.} (11. exf5 Bxf5 12. e4 Bg6 $44
{This is very compensation. I can always play Bc5 and also ideas like Bf7-c4.
Black has many good ways to put pressure and White has to be very accurate to
keep the balance. So I was not worried about this at all.}) 11... fxe4 $6 {
Perhaps this was my only inaccurate move of the game.} (11... Rd8+ $1 {was an
important intermediate move.} 12. Kc2 Bxc3 $1 13. Nxc3 (13. bxc3 Nxe4 $15)
13... Nb4+ {Already the White king is feeling quite uncomfortable.} 14. Kb1 (
14. Kb3 a5 $1 {and Be6 is coming up.}) 14... fxe4 {The e4 pawn cannot be taken
because of the pin down the h7-b1 diagonal and the knight will settle on d3
with a clearly better position for Black.}) 12. a3 Rd8+ 13. Ke1 Bxc3+ 14. Nxc3
Bf5 {This position I liked during the game. I had my pieces developed and he
still has to decide what to do with the bishop on c1.} 15. Bf1 (15. h3 h5 {
After the game we analyzed this position and Sam was of the opinion that
inserting these two moves h3 and h5 would be in his favour. But I was not so
sure about it. I would double the rooks down the d-file and I am not too
worried about my position.} (15... Na5 {Also Sam was afraid of this move.} 16.
g4 Nb3 17. Rb1 Be6 18. Nxe4 Nxe4 19. Bxe4 Nc5 {Here my opponent felt that he
was in trouble because Ba2 is coming, but I think after} 20. Bc2 Ba2 21. Ke2 $1
{A very strong exchange sacrifice.} (21. Ra1 $6 Bb3 $1 $13) 21... Bxb1 22. Bxb1
$44 {The position is changing in White's favour. I would prefer having the
white pieces in this position.})) 15... Be6 16. b4 {This was a really
ambitious move.} (16. Bg2 {He could have just repeated the position with Bg2
and I think I have nothing better than bringing my bishop back to f5 with a
draw. I did have an option to continue with Na5, but it would have also led to
equality.} Na5 17. Nxe4 Nb3 18. Rb1 {Now taking on e4 would lead to a
variation which we examined above, but instead Black can continue} Bf5 19.
Nxf6+ gxf6 20. e4 Re8 21. Kf2 Bxe4 22. Bxe4 Rxe4 23. Re1 {And the position is
around equal. Nothing much is happening.}) 16... a5 $1 {I liked this move.} 17.
b5 {And here it was not so easy for me to decide where to take my knight.
Should I bring it to b8-d7 or should I go for Ne7.} Ne7 (17... Nb8 $5 {If the
knight comes to c5 it would really be a monster. It looks at d3, b3 and is a
complete monster.} 18. Bb2 Nbd7 19. Ne2 Nc5 (19... c5 $5 20. bxc6 bxc6 21. Nd4
Bd5 {I am not sure who is better.}) 20. Nd4 {The position is interesting and I
could have gone for this. But I thought to myself during the game, why to
disconnect the rooks and hence chose Ne7 over Nb8.}) 18. Bg2 (18. h3 {is a
much better option.} Nf5 $5 (18... c6 $5)) 18... Bf5 19. Ra2 {This is really
inviting me to come into the d3 square.} (19. Bf1 {I cannot give up the a2-g8
diagonal, so most probably I would have repeated the position with ...Be6. And
I think for Sam, practically this would have been the better decision to
accept the draw, because he was already down to 25 minutes, while I had 50
minutes on my clock.}) 19... Rd3 20. Rc2 Rc8 $1 {This was an extremely strong
move. After the game when we analyzed he told me that he had missed this idea
of Rc8 with c6.} (20... c6 21. bxc6 Nxc6 {And now there is no rook on the
c-file.} 22. Bf1 $14) 21. Bf1 c6 $1 (21... c5 {Sam suggested this move to me
after the game. While this is strong, I had made up my mind to break with ...
c6.}) 22. Bxd3 {I did not like this move very much. It was much better to just
develop with Bd2.} (22. Bd2 cxb5 23. Bxd3 exd3 24. Rb2 Bd7 25. Nxb5 Nf5 {
I think I am quite comfortable and Nd6-Ne4 is coming up.} (25... Bxb5 26. Rxb5
Rc2 $44)) 22... exd3 23. Rb2 Ned5 {He missed this move. White has absolutely
no play and Black is clearly better.} 24. Nxd5 cxd5 25. Bd2 Ne4 26. Rg1 h5 27.
Rg2 a4 {The computer does not approve of this move. But I thought Rb3-d3 is a
very natural idea for White and with this move I stop his plan. I took nearly
15 minutes for this plan.} 28. Rb4 Rc4 (28... Rc2 29. Rxe4 dxe4 30. Rf2 {
I was not sure How to break this fortress in the game. I knew that I could
bring my king and somehow breakthrough, but I was also not happy that my
knight which was so strong on e4 was gone. So I avoided this position. But of
course, Bg4-e2 is just winning here.} Bg4 $1 31. Bb4 Be2 $19) 29. b6 Kf7 30.
Rf2 g6 31. Rg2 Ke6 32. Rf2 Kf6 {This is no triangulation! Mainly I just wanted
to reach the time control and do something concrete after move 40.} 33. Rg2 Kf7
34. Rf2 Ke6 35. Rg2 Kd7 36. Rf2 Kc6 37. Rb1 Rc2 38. Rc1 Nxf2 {This opposite
coloured bishop endgame is winning and I had seen right until the very end.}
39. Kxf2 Kxb6 40. Ke1 Kc5 41. Rxc2+ dxc2 42. Bb4+ Kc4 43. Kd2 Kb3 44. Kc1 b6
45. Be7 Kc3 46. Bd8 b5 47. Be7 Kd3 48. Bc5 Ke2 49. h4 Kf3 50. Kd2 Kxg3 51. Be7
Kg4 52. Bg5 Be4 53. Bf6 Bd3 54. Be7 b4 55. axb4 a3 56. b5 a2 57. Bf6 d4 58.
Bxd4 Kxh4 59. b6 Be4 {The h-pawn queens. I was quite happy with my level of
play. I made no glaring errors and overall it was a good game.} 0-1

 

 

Round nine: White against Emilio Cordova

Sasikiran was able to execute a new opening idea that he had prepared. With the quick g4 and f5, according to Sasi, the game was already over after the first eleven moves. "If I don't do anything stupid, I would win this", is how Sasikiran likes to put it.

Ne2!? was Sasikiran's interesting opening idea. The plan is not only to play c3 and bolster the centre, but also to go for g4, f5 break when the knight would be well placed to jump to g3 or f4. This game is a clear case of how a well prepared opening idea can give you a full point against a strong opponent without too much effort.

[Event "52nd Capablanca Mem Elite"]
[Site "Matanzas CUB"]
[Date "2017.06.05"]
[Round "9.2"]
[White "Sasikiran, Krishnan"]
[Black "Cordova, Emilio"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C11"]
[WhiteElo "2669"]
[BlackElo "2645"]
[Annotator "Sasikiran Krishnan"]
[PlyCount "81"]
[EventDate "2017.05.27"]
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 b6 {Nearly
100 games have been played in this position before.} 8. Ne2 {This is not in
computer's first four choices.But for humans this is a very natural move. You
put your pawn on c3 and then expand on the kingside. I had prepared this new
move some time ago and my opponent just fell into this idea of g4 and f5 that
I had worked on. There has been one game played before with this move in 2003
in Spanish under-16 Championships. But apart from that no one has tried it
before.} g6 9. c3 a5 {This was already too slow.} (9... h5 {Stopping my
kingside play was important.}) 10. g4 {Maybe it's a bit too harsh, but I think
Black's position is already lost here.} Ba6 (10... h5 {he had to play, but
after} 11. gxh5 Rxh5 12. Ng3 Rh8 13. h4 $16 {followed by h5, White has simply
excellent play.}) 11. f5 $1 {When I got in this move I was confident that I
would be able to win this game.} Bxe2 12. Bxe2 {I have the two bishops, more
space, my bishop can also come to b5. His king is stuck in the centre. Overall
if I don't do anything stupid, I should be able to win this position.} Rc8 13.
fxe6 fxe6 14. O-O Be7 15. Bh6 c4 16. Qd2 b5 17. Ng5 Bxg5 18. Bxg5 Qb6 19. Rf2
h6 20. Bxh6 Kd8 21. Raf1 b4 22. Kg2 Kc7 23. Bd1 bxc3 24. bxc3 Qb1 25. Be2 Qe4+
26. Bf3 Qd3 27. Bg5 Qxd2 28. Bxd2 a4 29. Bd1 Ra8 30. Bc1 a3 31. Bc2 Rhb8 32. h4
Na7 33. Bxa3 Nb5 34. Bb4 Kc6 35. Rb1 Nb6 36. Bxg6 Na4 37. Rf3 Nb6 38. a3 Nxa3
39. Ra1 Nb5 40. Rxa8 Nxa8 41. Bc5 {This game was pretty easy for me. The
opening preparation worked and I was able to score a nice win.} 1-0

 

Round ten: Black against Ortiz Suarez

Sasi was in the lead at this point by half a point. He agreed to a quick draw with Ortiz Suarez in just 15 moves. Did he not fear that Ivanchuk could beat Shankland and catch him? "The last closed round robin event I had won was way back in 2008. I didn't win anything after that. So I decided to take a draw and at least get a share of the first place," said Sasi.

[Event "52nd Capablanca Mem Elite"]
[Site "Matanzas CUB"]
[Date "2017.06.06"]
[Round "10.1"]
[White "Ortiz Suarez, Isan Reynaldo"]
[Black "Sasikiran, Krishnan"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A48"]
[WhiteElo "2570"]
[BlackElo "2669"]
[Annotator "Sasikiran Krishnan"]
[PlyCount "30"]
[EventDate "2017.05.27"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bf4 Bg7 4. h3 c5 5. c3 b6 6. e3 O-O 7. Be2 Bb7 8. O-O d6
9. Nbd2 Nbd7 10. a4 a6 11. Bh2 Ne4 12. Nxe4 Bxe4 13. Nd2 Bb7 14. Qb3 Rb8 15.
Rfe1 Qc7 {I hadn't won a Round Robin event since 2008. In 2011 I played in
Lublin and in 2011-12 in Delhi and then in 2015 in Danzhou. So I had played
some closed events before but never with any good results. So even though
Ivanchuk was half a point behind me, I took this draw, because it gave me a
share of the first place, at the very least. Also I had already gained 12 Elo
points from the event, which was nice. In the end Ivanchuk lost to Shankland
and I was able to win the tournament.} 1/2-1/2

 

In the end Ivanchuk lost his game to Shankland and Sasikiran emerged as the champion by one point margin. 

The final crosstable

Sasikiran with the winner's trophy, flanked by Ivanchuk on the right (second) and Shankland on the left (third)
I have called Sasikiran in many of my articles as the Rahul Dravid of Indian chess. Rahul Dravid is one of the most respected players in the world of cricket. He is also known as the "Wall", because of his extremely solid and dependable style of batting. Somehow I feel that Sasikiran is the Mr. Dependable of Indian chess. The way he has been playing chess consistently over the years. He is always ready to represent India and be a part of the team in important events like Olympiad, World and Asian Teams etc. He has won so many international tournaments ahead of strong grandmasters. Besides, he is extremely hard working and modest, just like Rahul Dravid!

 

I didn't know whether Sasi actually liked the fact that he was called the Rahul Dravid/ Wall of Indian chess. This was the perfect moment to clarify that point."I know you call me that. I have read it. Yes, I like Rahul Dravid very much. In fact I am reading his autobiography right now. He is the only cricketer whose book I have read."

 

Mr. Dependable of Indian chess
After the game analysis ended I asked Sasi about his future aims. "I am just enjoying chess! So I would like to continue working hard and continue playing. Apart from that I do not have any aims!" We wish him the best and hope that he crosses the 2700 Elo mark soon.

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