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Adhiban off to a flier!

by Sagar Shah - 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.

Pictures by Alina L'Ami


Tata Steel Championships in Wijk Aan Zee is the first elite tournament of the year 2016 and is often termed as the Wimbledon of chess. Our very own Vishy Anand has won this tournament for a record five times. This year, however, he chose to play in the Gibraltar Open which will start in a few days, thereby skipping this traditional closed Round Robin event. This leaves no Indian player in the Masters group. However, parallel to the masters group is the Challengers tournament where 14 players battle it out and the winner gets a spot in next years Masters event.

The coastal town of Wijk Aan Zee lies near the North Sea and is just 45 kms away from Amsterdam

This picture taken by Alina l'Ami aptly describes the weather conditions in the town: cloudy, overcast and extremely windy!
India has only one representative this year in the Tata Steel and he is none other than B. Adhiban, who is the second seed in the Challengers section. Considering the field, it seems to us that Adhiban has excellent chances of winning the tournament and thereby making it to the Masters Group of 2017 tournament! 
Title Name
GM Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter
GM Baskaran, Adhiban
GM Safarli, Eltaj
GM Dreev, Alexey
GM l'Ami, Erwin
GM Bok, Benjamin
GM Sevian, Samuel
GM Antipov, Mikhail
GM Abasov, Nijat
WG Ju, Wenjun
IM van Foreest, Jorden
IM Batsiashvili, Nino
IM Admiraal, Miguoel
WG Haast, Anne
Average rating: 2569 – Category: 13
Adhiban made an excellent start to his campaign with a fine win in the first round against Nijat Abasov from Azerbaijan
Adhiban who was white played the 4.Qc2 variation in the Nimzo Indian. The Indian lad was in a highly combative mood. First he accepted doubled f-pawns, secondly he shunned a queen exchange and lastly he went for opposite side castling. The game was sharp and Abasov had his chances to wrest over the initiative. The position was so fluid that the value of every move was very high. Nijat struck on the wrong plan by brining his queen to g2. He then greedily took the f2 pawn which was already playing with fire. And the final error came when he captured the bishop on e2.
Adhiban - Abasov, Rd.1
Abasov has just taken the bishop on e2 with his rook. What was the surprise that Adhiban had prepared? Dont read ahead until you have seen the winning move!
I hope you were not tempted to take the pawn on g7! Adhiban just moved his rook from g1 to e1 - Rge1 and what a nice cross pin!
Game over!

In-depth analysis:

[Event "78th Tata Steel GpB"]
[Site "Wijk aan Zee NED"]
[Date "2016.01.16"]
[Round "1.5"]
[White "Adhiban, Baskaran"]
[Black "Abasov, Nijat"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E34"]
[WhiteElo "2653"]
[BlackElo "2556"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "69"]
[EventDate "2016.01.16"]
{Adhiban starts off round one against Nijat Abasov. Having the white pieces
and knowing how ambitious Adhiban is surely meant that he would want to play
for the full point.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 d5 5. cxd5 Qxd5 (5...
exd5 {is much more popular these days giving a Ragozin like feel to the game.})
6. e3 (6. Nf3 Qf5 {is an amazing invention by the great Oleg Romanishin.}) 6...
c5 7. a3 (7. Bd2 {is the main line here. a3 is the second most popular move
and Adhiban must have surely done his homework!}) 7... Bxc3+ 8. bxc3 {This
somehow gives a very Chigorin opening like feel. Just that the knight is on c6
and instead of the c5 pawn there is a pawn on e5. Battle lines have clearly
been drawn here. White has the bishop pair but lags behind in development.
Black has easier development but if White catches up in bringing his pieces
out, he can surely claim a solid edge.} O-O 9. c4 $146 {This is already the
first new move of the game. But if the timings of the PlayChess broadcast are
anything to go by, then Adhiban was still in his preparation.} Qd6 10. Nf3 b6
11. e4 $5 {Played very quickly! Either Adhiban was bluffing his opponent or he
had prepared really well for the game.} Nfd7 12. d5 {White gets this nice
central pawn formation which hinders the bishop on c8.} exd5 13. exd5 {The
opening of the e-file is not so dangerous as the queenside black pieces cannot
really join in the party soon.} Ne5 14. Bb2 $5 {Adhiban had the first real
think of the game and came up with not such a great move.} (14. Ng5 $1 {
was the best as after} g6 15. Ne4 Qe7 16. Be2 $14 {White has a clear edge.})
14... Nxf3+ 15. gxf3 Re8+ 16. Be2 Qg6 $6 (16... Qf4 $1 {Stopping 0-0-0 would
have put White in immense difficulty. Maybe Nijat was afraid that the bishop
on b2 combined with the rook coming to g1 would cause some serious damage on
the g7 point. But all this can be avoided with a simple f6.} 17. Rg1 f6 $1 $15)
17. Qd2 (17. Qxg6 hxg6 18. Kd2 $14 {Gives White a clear edge due to the bishop
pair. But Adhiban wanted more.}) 17... Qg2 $6 {Too ambitious. You cannot
really go pawn hunting when your queenside is completely undeveloped.} (17...
Bf5 $11) 18. O-O-O $1 {Of course Adhiban never shies down from a challenge.
Here he sacrifices the f2 pawn.} Qxf2 19. Rhg1 $1 Rxe2 $2 (19... Qxe2 20. Rxg7+
Kf8 {And now can you find the killer stroke?} 21. Rg8+ $1 Kxg8 22. Qg5+ Kf8 23.
Bg7+ $1 Kg8 24. Bf6+ Kf8 25. Qg7# {A nice little variation showing the
justification for the piece sacrifice on e2.}) (19... g6 {was the best but can
anyone humanly think of weakening the long diagonal when there is a bishop on
b2 that has no opponent?} 20. Bd3 $1 (20. Rde1 $5) 20... Qxd2+ 21. Kxd2 $16 {
Followed by Re1 will put black in some danger. Yet this was the best way to
play for both sides.}) 20. Rge1 $1 $18 {Maybe Nijat just missed this move
thinking only about Rxg7 ideas. The back rank mate comes into the picture now
and Black is just lost.} (20. Rxg7+ Kf8 21. Rg8+ Kxg8 22. Qg5+ Kf8 23. Qd8+ Re8
24. Qd6+ Re7 (24... Kg8 $2 25. Qf6 $18) 25. Qd8+ {only leads to a draw.}) 20...
Qh4 21. Qxe2 Nd7 22. Rg1 g6 23. Qe8+ Nf8 24. Qe5 f6 25. Qxf6 Qxf6 26. Bxf6 {
And the rest, as they say, is just a matter of technique.} Ba6 27. Rde1 Nd7 28.
Bb2 Rf8 29. Re7 Rf7 30. Rxf7 Kxf7 31. Rg4 b5 32. Rh4 h5 33. Rf4+ Ke7 34. Re4+
Kf7 35. d6 {A fine win for Adhiban and a great start to his campaign!} 1-0

The playing hall where the Challengers play alongside the Masters report on round one

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