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Zalakaros 04-07: Abhimanyu, Aryan dazzle

by Srinath Narayanan - 03/06/2016

Indian youngsters coming up with impressive performances in strong international opens abroad is beginning to become a routine in recent times.In Zalakaros, Hungary, it is the turn of IM Aryan Chopra and IM Abhimanyu Puranik. At the end of seven rounds, both of them are placed on 5.0/7 and are just half a point away from making a GM Norm. Srinath Narayanan reports for ChessBase.

Zalakaros 04-07: Abhimanyu, Aryan dazzle

The 35th Zalakaros Open takes place in Hotel Karos Spa from 27 May to June 4.  Zalakaros is a beautiful little spa town in the Balaton lake region of Hungary. It is the smallest town in the country with a population of 1791 (quite a contrast for someone like me, as my street back home in Chennai is probably more populated!) and an area of just 17.17 square kilometers.


Indian youngsters coming up with impressive performances in strong international opens abroad is beginning to become a routine in recent times. NR Vignesh and Shardul Gagare set the stage on fire in Qatar Open last year, among several other Indians. In Zalakaros, Hungary, it is the turn of IM Aryan Chopra and IM Abhimanyu Puranik. At the end of seven rounds, both of them are placed on 5.0/7 and are just half a point away from making a GM Norm.

IM Aryan Chopra is half a point away from a spectacular GM-norm
[Event "35th Zalakaros Open 2016"]
[Site "Zalakaros HUN"]
[Date "2016.06.01"]
[Round "6.8"]
[White "Romanov, Evgeny"]
[Black "Aryan, Chopra"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D43"]
[WhiteElo "2641"]
[BlackElo "2459"]
[Annotator "Srinath,N"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "r1b2rk1/1p4b1/4p1pp/pNq2p2/2P5/8/PPQRBPPP/5RK1 b - - 0 20"]
[PlyCount "43"]
[EventDate "2016.05.27"]
[SourceDate "2003.06.08"]
20... e5 {An interesting middlegame position. White has initiative on the
queenside while Black has better prospects on the kingside.} 21. Rd5 $6 (21.
Nd6 $142 {From a brief look, this appears better so as to prevent the Black's
bishop from getting comfortable. It seems paradoxical on two strategic counts
- the exchange of a developed knight to an undeveloped piece and the fact that
it subsequently goes to a position where the e2-bishop gets blocked by the
c4-pawn where as the g7-bishop is free after e4. However, I don't think these
factors are important here. It seems more important to eliminate the c8-bishop
so that the White rooks can access d7. Another important point is that, this
impedes Black's central pawn advance - after e4, Black's light square bishop
is very useful to advance with f4 - something Nd6xc8 eliminates.} Be6 $5 (21...
e4 22. Rfd1 Kh7 23. Nxc8 Raxc8 24. Rd7 {seems balanced.}) 22. Nxb7 Qb4 23. Nd6
e4 $132 {seems like an imbalanced balance}) 21... Qe7 22. Rd6 Kh7 23. c5 Bd7 (
23... e4 24. Rfd1 f4 25. f3 Bf5 26. fxe4 Bxe4 27. Bd3 {was another way to
achieve counterplay.}) 24. Rfd1 Bc6 {The bishop on c6 ensures controls e4 and
d7 - preparing advance of the central pawns.} 25. a4 Rf6 26. Bc4 e4 27. Bd5 Qe5
28. Nc7 Rc8 29. Ne6 $2 f4 $2 (29... Bxd5 30. R1xd5 Rxe6 $1 31. Rxe5 Rxd6 32. f4
Bxe5 33. fxe5 Rd7 $15) 30. Qb3 $2 {Black achieves his strategic aim even at
the cost of allowing White entry into the seven rook. The time becomes the
pivotal factor here and Qb3 first, instead of Bxc6, gives that important extra
tempo.} (30. Bxc6 bxc6 31. Nxg7 {now, Black doesn't have the e2 move(see the
text) that gave him the extra tempo.} Kxg7 32. Rd7+ Kh8 33. Qb3 $36) 30... e3
31. Bxc6 Rxc6 32. Rxc6 bxc6 33. Nxg7 e2 $1 {the point - the tempo} 34. Re1 Kxg7
35. Qb7+ $2 (35. Qc2 Re6 36. Qd2 {White really has to try and neutralise the
e2 pawn. However White's position still appears precarious.}) 35... Rf7 36.
Qxc6 $2 {This move seals White's fate.} (36. Qb3 Re7 $17) 36... f3 {Black's
threats are deadly now, mate on g2 or Queen to d1 and promotion of e2 pawn.}
37. Qd6 Qg5 38. Qd4+ Kh7 39. g3 Qf5 40. Qc4 Rd7 41. Qb3 Qd3 0-1


Meanwhile, Abhimanyu has showcased both solidity and resourcefulness.

He held solidly in the games he has drawn so far, while showing his trademark resourcefulness in worse positions to outplay both his more fancied opponents in the 30th-40th move phase.

[Event "35th Zalakaros Open 2016"]
[Site "Zalakaros HUN"]
[Date "2016.05.28"]
[Round "2.1"]
[White "Efimenko, Zahar"]
[Black "Puranik, Abhimanyu"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A05"]
[WhiteElo "2656"]
[BlackElo "2452"]
[Annotator "Srinath,N"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "5rk1/p3pp1p/3p2p1/n1qPPb2/1rP2P2/2R3P1/P2N2BP/2Q1R2K b - - 0 27"]
[PlyCount "31"]
[EventDate "2016.05.27"]
[SourceDate "2003.06.08"]
27... Rfb8 {Black has a typical Benko like compensation here. White is a pawn
up, but Black has pieces in all the active posts and White's absence of a dark
square bishop is felt here as Black occupies control of the dark squares.
Ideally White should hit back in the kingside in such a scenario, seeing that
nothing immediate is falling on the queenside.} 28. h3 {A movement in the
right direction - White threatens g4.} h5 {Black stops White's idea, but at
the cost of weakening the g5 square. Something, that can possibly influence
the position in the long run.} 29. Rce3 Qd4 30. exd6 exd6 31. Nf3 Qf6 32. Qc3
$2 {I've no explanation for this.} (32. Re8+ $142 Kg7 33. Rxb8 Rxb8 34. Qa3
Nxc4 35. Qxa7 Rb2 36. Ng5 $16) 32... Qxc3 33. Rxc3 Nxc4 {Usually I've been
taught that Benko endgames with equal material are considered inferior for
White as the pawns are considered weak. But White has his counterplay here.}
34. Nd4 (34. Ng5 $5 Rb1 35. Rxb1 Rxb1+ 36. Kh2 Rb4 37. a3 Ra4 38. Rb3 $132)
34... Ne3 35. Nxf5 $2 {I am just surprised at this decision as it directly
goes into a good knight vs bad bishop endgame. The g2-bishop is simply bad.
Black's knight and rooks has acces to several dark squares that simply cannot
be defended against, and White gets no counterplay. This move opens the
floodgates.} (35. Nc6 Nxg2 36. Kxg2 Re4 37. Rxe4 Bxe4+ 38. Kf2 Rb2+ 39. Ke3 Bg2
40. Nxa7 {And White probably has enough counterplay to hold.}) 35... Nxf5 36.
Ra3 h4 37. gxh4 Nxh4 38. f5 Nxf5 39. Rxa7 Rb2 40. Ra3 Nh4 41. Rg1 R8b4 42. Bf1
Rf4 0-1


I’ve to say that, although on the outset the games might hint at some good fortune, these aren’t attributable to ‘coincidence’ or ‘chance’. Abhimanyu’s ability to bounce back from worse positions has been experienced by me extensively from my own personal experience – of the five games(all formats) we’ve faced each other against, he has managed to outplay in the later part of the game in a similar fashion four times! As a result I’ve only one victory against him.


Here is another swindle by him from the fifth round:

[Event "35th Zalakaros Open 2016"]
[Site "Zalakaros HUN"]
[Date "2016.05.31"]
[Round "5.7"]
[White "Medvegy, Zoltan"]
[Black "Puranik, Abhimanyu"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A15"]
[WhiteElo "2553"]
[BlackElo "2452"]
[Annotator "Srinath,N"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "1r1r2k1/p1p2p1p/1qB2bpP/1P6/8/B3P1P1/P1Q2PK1/7R w - - 0 27"]
[PlyCount "28"]
[EventDate "2016.05.27"]
[SourceDate "2003.06.08"]
27. Qc4 {White is just clearly better. He is controlling too much of territory
and Black struggles to free himself.} a6 $1 {Typical of Abhimanyu's play - he
fights on from any position, and on many occasions, manages to succeed.} 28.
bxa6 Rd2 {Black threatens Qxe3, with counterplay on the f2 pawn. This is
simply countred by defending f2, either from f1 or f4!} 29. Bc1 (29. Rh4 $142
Qxe3 (29... Bxh4 30. Qc3 Rd4 (30... Qxc6+ 31. Qxc6 {doesn't really delay the
Qc3-Qg7 threat by much.}) 31. gxh4 Rg4+ 32. Kh3 $18) 30. Rf4 Qxa3 31. Rxf6 $18)
(29. Rf1 {White should slowly be able to realise his advantage from the excess
of resources he has.} Rxa2 {doesn't work because of} 30. a7 $18) 29... Rxa2 30.
Qxa2 Qxc6+ {This is already a concession. White still has the very strong a6
pawn, but the position isn't as dominating as it was.} 31. Kh2 Rb5 32. g4 Be5+
33. f4 Rc5 34. Rd1 Bf6 35. a7 Rc2+ 36. Rd2 Rxa2 37. Rxa2 Qa8 38. Ra6 Be7 39.
Ba3 Bxa3 40. Rxa3 Kf8 $19 {When the smoke got cleared, it becomes apparent
that White's position has got smeared. I skipped over the time trouble
mistakes.} 0-1


A rational person doesn’t believe in coincidences and there is usually a rational explanation to everything. I just have to say – excellent defensive ability, and excellent nerves in critical moments.

As expected, GM Harika leads the women's challenge. She came out on top in the battle of the two top Indians against GM Shyam Sundar.
[Event "35th Zalakaros Open 2016"]
[Site "Zalakaros HUN"]
[Date "2016.05.31"]
[Round "5.8"]
[White "Harika, Dronavalli"]
[Black "Shyam, Sundar M"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D30"]
[WhiteElo "2514"]
[BlackElo "2530"]
[PlyCount "63"]
[EventDate "2016.05.27"]
[SourceDate "2003.06.08"]
1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Bg5 Nbd7 5. e3 h6 6. Bh4 Bb4+ 7. Nbd2 g5 8. Bg3
Ne4 9. a3 Nxg3 10. hxg3 Bf8 11. Qc2 Bg7 12. O-O-O c6 13. Kb1 f5 14. Bd3 Qe7 15.
Nh2 h5 16. f3 g4 17. e4 fxe4 18. fxe4 dxc4 19. Nxc4 e5 20. d5 Nc5 21. Ne3 Rh6
22. Rhf1 Rf6 23. Rxf6 Bxf6 24. Be2 Qf8 25. b4 Nd7 26. dxc6 Nb6 27. Nd5 Nxd5 28.
Rxd5 Be6 29. cxb7 Bxd5 30. exd5 Rd8 31. Qc7 Qe7 32. b8=Q 1-0






Eesha steady and solid with 4.0/7

After a 'rough' start, GM Kidambi is beginning to bounce back with 4.0/7. [Photo: Priyadarshan Banjan]

IM V. Saravanan (2272) reminds me of this...

Ananya Gupta in Group B has slowed down a bit with 3.5/7, but still has a creditable performance with a  gain of 64 elo.

In most cases, what we do at the end is what remains the most fresh in mind and creates the biggest impact – for example, IM Abhimanyu’s play in the final parts of the game superseded the parts that occurred before. With that in mind, I sign off by wishing good luck to all the fourteen Indians including myself out here and look forward to reporting about some good finishes!

Indian Pairings for Round 08:

Rd. Bo. No.     Name Rtg Pts. Result Pts.   Name Rtg   No.
8 6 14   GM Medvegy Zoltan 2553 5   5 IM Aryan Chopra 2459   32
8 7 35   IM Puranik Abhimanyu 2452 5   5 GM Harika Dronavalli 2514   22
8 14 17   GM Shyam Sundar M. 2530 4   4 IM Kreisl Robert 2439   38
8 18 45   IM Vertetics Attila 2425 4   4 GM Sundararajan Kidambi 2469   28
8 23 27   IM Nemeth Miklos 2482   4 IM Karavade Eesha 2409   50
8 25 76     Raja Harshit 2329   GM Del Rio De Angelis Salvador G 2541   16
8 26 80   FM Mesaros Florian 2318   IM Narayanan Srinath 2469   29
8 34 100   FM Hristodoulou Panagiotis 2245   IM Nitin S. 2377   60
8 42 68   FM Nihal Sarin 2349 3   3 IM Saravanan V. 2272   93
8 43 71   FM Thakur Akash 2345 3   3   Skuhala Jernej 2142   113
8 49 108   WIM Michelle Catherina P 2179   FM Gorcsi Gabor 2304   85
8 34 94     Ananya Rishi Gupta 1842     Simon Lili 2052   54

Check the pairings here.


IM Srinath Narayanan is a Chennai-based International Master. He is a former World U-12 champion, three-time Asian Junior Champion, and finished seventh in the World Junior Championship 2014. He is a keen observer, voracious reader, a patient teacher, and an imaginative writer. Naturally, he brings a unique blend in his chess reports that focuses on the tournaments, games, and interesting happenings.

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