2750 is my next barrier - Interview with B.Adhiban Part II

by Sagar Shah
3/1/2017 – Adhiban's challenge at the Tata Steel Masters 2017 didn't begin so well, but suddenly picked up speed as he defeated Karjakin. This was followed by wins over Wojtaszek, Andreikin and Rapport. He was also very close to beating Magnus Carlsen. In the second part of the interview we continue the dissection of the key moments in Adhiban's games along with his views on them.

Pictures by Alina L'Ami

In the first part of our interview with Adhiban we spoke about how the India number three mentally prepared himself for the big challenge of facing the best players in the world at the Tata Steel Masters 2017. In the second part we ask him whether he remembered Karpov's famous manoeuvre, which was similar to what he played against Andreikin. How did he choose Scandinavian against Magnus Carlsen, and what are his views on Anish Giri's play. 

SS: After beating Andreikin you wrote, thrilled to have beaten the super solid Andreikin. You made this very interesting move Nb1!? Did you by any chance remember the game between Karpov-Spassky from their Candidates when Karpov went Nb1-d2-f3!

Adhiban- Andreikin, Round 8

In this position Adhiban retreated his knight from c3 to b1 with the idea of not only kicking the knight from d4 with c3 but also preparing Nb1-d2-f3 and finally to g5!

Karpov - Spassky, 1971 Candidates Semi-finals

I am sure you can guess what Karpov played in the above position?

BA: I wish I had remembered that game of Karpov during my battle with Andreikin! It was all original, and that’s why it took more time and energy to find it, I knew about that game of course, but during the heat of the battle I didn’t recollect it.

[Event "79th Tata Steel Chess 2017-Masters"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee"] [Date "2017.01.22"] [Round "8"] [White "Adhiban, Baskaran"] [Black "Andreikin, Dmitry"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B25"] [WhiteElo "2653"] [BlackElo "2736"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "91"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventCountry "NED"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] [TimeControl "40/6000+30:20/3000+30:900+30"] 1. e4 {[%emt 0:00:00]} e5 {[%emt 0:00:11]} 2. Nc3 $5 {[%emt 0:00:00] Who wants to waste time studying the Berlin and the Ruy Lopez!} Nc6 {[%emt 0:01:35]} 3. g3 {[%emt 0:00:00]} g6 {[%emt 0:02:09]} 4. Bg2 {[%emt 0:00:01]} Bg7 {[%emt 0: 00:30]} 5. d3 {[%emt 0:00:06]} d6 {[%emt 0:00:18] It's all symmetrical until now.} 6. f4 {[%emt 0:00:04]} Nge7 {[%emt 0:15:48] Played after 15 minutes of thought.} (6... f5 $5 {Black could have maintained the symmetry. But not for long.} 7. exf5 Bxf5 8. fxe5 Nxe5 9. Bxb7 Rb8 10. Bg2 Bg4 11. Nge2 Nf3+ $44) 7. Nf3 {[%emt 0:00:03]} Nd4 {[%emt 0:04:14]} 8. O-O {[%emt 0:09:54]} Bg4 {[%emt 0: 02:01] Adhiban found this plan to be slightly irritating as it is not so easy to break the pin.} 9. Be3 {[%emt 0:03:20]} c5 {[%emt 0:14:49]} 10. Qd2 { [%emt 0:01:09]} O-O {[%emt 0:00:23]} 11. Nh4 {[%emt 0:06:24]} exf4 {[%emt 0:04: 10]} 12. Bxf4 {[%emt 0:01:35]} Qd7 {[%emt 0:03:53]} 13. Rf2 {[%emt 0:11:33] White has natural play, but overall Black cannot be worse here as he has developed all his pieces and is clearly well co-ordinated.} Rae8 {[%emt 0:01: 38]} 14. Bh6 {[%emt 0:12:42]} Bxh6 {[%emt 0:02:21]} 15. Qxh6 {[%emt 0:00:02]} b5 {[%emt 0:00:08]} 16. h3 $5 {[%emt 0:06:48]} Be6 {[%emt 0:01:49]} (16... Bxh3 17. Nf3 $1 Nxf3+ 18. Bxf3 $18 {The rook is coming to h2 and Black is lost!}) 17. Raf1 {[%emt 0:00:50]} Qd8 {[%emt 0:09:52]} (17... d5 $5 {This should have been given some thought by Andreikin.} 18. exd5 Bxd5 $1 (18... Nxd5 $2 19. Ne4 $16) 19. Nxd5 Nxd5 $11 {And although the bishop is gone Black is very well co-ordinated.}) 18. Nb1 {[%emt 0:11:51][%cal Gc3b1]} (18. Nd1 {with the idea of Ne3 was even stronger.}) 18... d5 $2 {[%emt 0:03:41][%cal Rd6d5] A very bad move because it helps the knight to come to the e4 square.} (18... Bxa2 $5 19. Nd2 f6 $5 (19... Be6 $6 20. c3 $1 Nb3 21. Nxb3 Bxb3 22. Rf6 {Nf3-g5 would be terminal.}) 20. b3 $13 (20. Rxf6 Rxf6 21. Rxf6 Rf8 22. Rxf8+ Qxf8 $11)) 19. Nd2 $1 {[%emt 0:08:20]} dxe4 $2 {[%emt 0:00:15] This is just suicide by Andreikin. Letting the knight come to e4 means that all the dark squares around the black king would be in danger.} 20. Nxe4 {[%emt 0:00:47]} Nef5 {[%emt 0:00:07]} ( 20... Nd5 21. Ng5 $18) 21. Rxf5 $1 {[%emt 0:00:45] The reason why this move works and Nxf5 is not very strong is because the last piece to take on f5 should be a knight. This would mean that there is a mate on g7 and Black has no time for Rxe4. Quite a simple tactic, but things can become complex when too many pieces are vying the same square.} (21. Nxf5 Nxf5 22. Rxf5 Bxf5 23. Rxf5 {This seems very strong, but Black has} Rxe4 $1 24. Bxe4 gxf5 25. Bxf5 Qd4+ 26. Kg2 Qg7 $17 {When the attack is repelled and Black is clearly better.} ) 21... Nxf5 {[%emt 0:00:32]} (21... Bxf5 22. Ng5 $18) 22. Rxf5 $1 {[%emt 0:00: 07]} Qd4+ {[%emt 0:01:18]} (22... Bxf5 23. Nxf5 $1 gxf5 24. Nf6+ Qxf6 25. Qxf6 $18) 23. Rf2 $1 {[%emt 0:03:15] White simply has two pieces for a rook and Black is utterly lost.} f5 {[%emt 0:00:06]} 24. Ng5 {[%emt 0:01:37]} (24. Nxg6 $1 hxg6 25. Qxg6+ Qg7 (25... Kh8 26. Ng5 Qg7 27. Qh5+ Kg8 28. Nxe6 Rxe6 29. Bd5 $18) 26. Nf6+ $1 Rxf6 27. Qxe8+ $18) 24... Qg7 {[%emt 0:00:37]} 25. Qxg7+ { [%emt 0:00:23]} Kxg7 {[%emt 0:00:04]} 26. Bc6 {[%emt 0:00:13]} h6 {[%emt 0:00: 07]} (26... Re7 27. Re2 Kf6 28. Rxe6+ Rxe6 29. Nxh7+ Kg7 30. Nxf8 Kxf8 31. Bxb5 $18) 27. Nxe6+ {[%emt 0:01:46]} Rxe6 {[%emt 0:00:06]} 28. Bxb5 {[%emt 0:00:01] The rest as they is just a matter of technique. Adhiban mopped up the game pretty quickly.} Rb8 {[%emt 0:00:45]} 29. a4 {[%emt 0:03:22]} a6 {[%emt 0:00: 06]} 30. Bc4 {[%emt 0:00:06]} Re1+ {[%emt 0:00:04]} 31. Kg2 {[%emt 0:02:38]} Rxb2 {[%emt 0:00:06]} 32. Bxa6 {[%emt 0:00:09]} Rc1 {[%emt 0:02:53]} 33. Bc4 { [%emt 0:02:20]} Rcxc2 {[%emt 0:00:46]} 34. Rxc2 {[%emt 0:00:07]} Rxc2+ { [%emt 0:00:03]} 35. Kf3 {[%emt 0:00:19]} Kf6 {[%emt 0:00:04]} 36. a5 {[%emt 0: 00:53]} g5 {[%emt 0:00:15]} 37. a6 {[%emt 0:00:07]} Rc1 {[%emt 0:00:23]} 38. Ng2 {[%emt 0:00:34]} Ke5 {[%emt 0:00:06]} 39. Ne3 {[%emt 0:04:46]} h5 {[%emt 0: 00:07]} 40. Nc2 $1 {[%emt 0:00:00] The final touch.} g4+ {[%emt 0:00:29]} 41. Ke3 {[%emt 0:08:39]} gxh3 {[%emt 0:01:55]} 42. a7 {[%emt 0:02:27]} h2 {[%emt 0: 00:05]} 43. a8=Q {[%emt 0:00:38]} h1=Q {[%emt 0:00:07]} 44. Qb8+ {[%emt 0:00: 21]} Kf6 {[%emt 0:00:10]} 45. Qf8+ {[%emt 0:00:09]} Kg6 {[%emt 0:00:12]} 46. Bf7+ {[%emt 0:00:14]} 1-0

SS: Against Wei Yi you had a completely lost position out of the opening. How do you defend such inferior positions? You are known for your tenacious defending abilities.

BA: I am able to defend such positions, because I don’t want to lose. And also Wei Yi is considered to the next big thing in chess, so I didn’t want him to have that title without a fight!

The battle between two Asian superstars!

SS: And then the big duel! Against the World Champion Magnus Carlsen! How did you decide to play the Scandinavian?!

Adhiban's Scandinavian had Magnus Carlsen confused

BA: Once again it was my trainer’s idea.  Most of the heavy work load fell on my friend Vishnu of course, but he managed to find the courage to keep checking it. I had been waiting for a long time to play with him, hence everything else didn’t matter I just wanted to face him with my strongest self!

SS: A draw is a wonderful result, but you had the Alekhine-like (Reti-Alekhine 1925) …Re3!! To win the game. Did you miss it altogether?

Reti vs Alekhine, 1925

Alekhine shocked Reti and the chess world with the very powerful ...Re3 in the above position. Adhiban had a similar opportunity in his game against Carlsen...

Carlsen - Adhiban, Round 11

...firstly Adhiban had to attack the rook on d1 with ...Qg4! After the rook moves to e1 he had a killer stroke...

...Re3 would have finished off Carlsen!

BA: I did see the winning idea but I assumed it was only good enough for a draw and I was trying for more. I was sad for roughly about one minute, but then I realized it was at only one moment, sometimes that is all you get against these players. I just told myself next time I won’t miss such a chance. 

Adhiban drew his game against the big boss of the chess world Magnus Carlsen

[Event "79th Tata Steel Chess 2017-Masters"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee"] [Date "2017.01.27"] [Round "11"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Adhiban, Baskaran"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B01"] [WhiteElo "2840"] [BlackElo "2653"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "98"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventCountry "NED"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] [TimeControl "40/6000+30:20/3000+30:900+30"] 1. e4 {[%emt 0:00:55]} d5 $5 {[%emt 0:00:05] The Scandinavian against the World Champion from Scandinavia! Is that something Adhiban had planned before the game?!} 2. exd5 {[%emt 0:00:05]} Nf6 {[%emt 0:00:04]} 3. Nf3 {[%emt 0:01: 47] Magnus goes for the most solid approach.} (3. c4 {Clinging on to the pawn brings nothing good.} e6 $1 4. dxe6 Bxe6 {with excellent compensation.}) 3... Nxd5 {[%emt 0:00:11]} 4. d4 {[%emt 0:02:00]} Bg4 {[%emt 0:00:06]} 5. h3 { [%emt 0:01:35]} Bh5 {[%emt 0:01:38]} 6. Be2 {[%emt 0:00:56]} Nc6 {[%emt 0:00: 10]} 7. O-O {[%emt 0:03:49] Magnus has played it simple and should have a small edge because he will be looking to play c4 and get greater control of the center.} e6 {[%emt 0:00:09]} 8. c3 {[%emt 0:07:53] Carlsen prefers the solid approach.} (8. c4 Nb6 9. b3 $5 $14) 8... Be7 {[%emt 0:07:39]} 9. Ne5 { [%emt 0:01:31][%cal Gc6e5,Ge2h5]} Nxe5 $5 {[%emt 0:14:28]} (9... Bxe2 10. Qxe2 Nxe5 11. dxe5 O-O 12. Rd1 Qc8 13. c4 $14 {is nothing substantial, but definitely a small edge for White.}) 10. Bxh5 {[%emt 0:00:08]} Ng6 {[%emt 0:00: 02] I already prefer White. He has the bishop pair, a strong center and a superior position.} 11. Qb3 {[%emt 0:09:58]} Rb8 {[%emt 0:08:29]} (11... O-O 12. Qxb7 Rb8 13. Qxa7 Bg5 $36 {Black already has the initiative.}) 12. c4 { [%emt 0:09:09]} Nf6 {[%emt 0:02:20]} 13. Bxg6 $6 {[%emt 0:00:46] A little bit too greedy.} (13. Bf3 $1 Qxd4 14. Be3 $16) 13... hxg6 {[%emt 0:00:04]} 14. Qa4+ {[%emt 0:00:05][%cal Ga4a7]} c6 {[%emt 0:17:56]} 15. Qxa7 {[%emt 0:00:10] Magnus wins a side pawn. If he wriggle out from the queenside he should be fine. But unfortunately Adhiban drums up counterplay.} Bd6 {[%emt 0:00:20]} 16. Nc3 {[%emt 0:02:29]} (16. Qa4 b5 17. cxb5 cxb5 18. Qb3 Bc7 19. Nd2 Qxd4 20. Nf3 Qd7 $11) 16... Bc7 {[%emt 0:00:34] The queen is coming to d6 and also Bb6 is threatened.} 17. Rd1 {[%emt 0:04:49]} Qd6 {[%emt 0:06:40]} 18. g3 {[%emt 0:00: 40]} Qd7 $1 {[%emt 0:03:11] This was the move that Adhiban was proud of. He gets away from Bf4 ideas and after Rxh3 is threatened. But the most deadly idea is ...e5! and Qxh3.} (18... Rxh3 {is not the best idea as after} 19. Bf4 Qe7 20. Bxc7 Qxc7 21. d5 $1 $14 {It's White who has the initiative.} Rxg3+ 22. fxg3 Qxg3+ 23. Kf1 Qf3+ 24. Qf2 $18) 19. h4 {[%emt 0:00:40]} O-O $1 {[%emt 0: 02:34] Good flexible thinking. Once the pawn has been lured to h4 and the light squares weakened, Black rook has nothing much to do on h8 and it makes sesnse to quickly castle and resume play in the centre.} 20. Qc5 {[%emt 0:03: 37]} b5 $1 {[%emt 0:05:03][%cal Gb7b5] This gets the d5 square for the knight.} 21. cxb5 {[%emt 0:11:02]} cxb5 {[%emt 0:00:04]} 22. a3 {[%emt 0:01:02]} Rfc8 { [%emt 0:03:36]} 23. Qg5 {[%emt 0:00:27]} b4 {[%emt 0:00:28]} 24. axb4 {[%emt 0: 02:01]} Rxb4 {[%emt 0:00:01] Black pieces are excellently placed and very active.} 25. Qd2 {[%emt 0:12:37]} (25. Ra7 Rxd4 $11) 25... Bb6 {[%emt 0:02:43]} 26. Ne2 {[%emt 0:00:20] Clumsy play by Magnus. In order to keep his pawn advantage he has lost the co-ordination of his pieces.} Rbc4 $1 {[%emt 0:00:25] } 27. Qd3 {[%emt 0:01:41]} e5 $6 {[%emt 0:06:43] A dubious decision by Adhiban, but one that worked very well in the game.} (27... Qd5 $15 {Keeping the position was already a very pleasant situation for Black.}) 28. Bg5 {[%emt 0: 00:39]} (28. dxe5 $1 Qxd3 29. Rxd3 Ng4 30. Rc3 $1 {This is a nice move.} Bxf2+ 31. Kg2 Rxc3 32. bxc3 Bc5 33. Bf4 $14 {Although the position should end in a draw, White is a pawn up for now and can push a bit.}) 28... Ng4 $1 {[%emt 0: 03:31] Now Black once again has pressure.} 29. Rac1 {[%emt 0:04:42]} Rxc1 { [%emt 0:00:39]} 30. Rxc1 {[%emt 0:00:03]} Re8 $1 {[%emt 0:02:39][%csl Gb6,Gd7, Ge8,Gg4] Keeping the rook, the pressure is building up on Carlsen's position. All of Black's pieces are wonderfully placed.} 31. Rd1 {[%emt 0:09:46]} exd4 { [%emt 0:04:23]} 32. Bf4 {[%emt 0:00:02]} (32. Nxd4 Bxd4 33. Qxd4 Re1+ $19) 32... Nf6 {[%emt 0:00:47]} 33. Nc1 {[%emt 0:01:24]} Nd5 {[%emt 0:08:04]} 34. Bd2 {[%emt 0:01:55] [#] This is the critical position of the game, and the one where Adhiban missed a forced win.} Qc6 $2 {[%emt 0:00:12]} (34... Qg4 $3 { [%cal Gd7g4] This was the killer stroke.} 35. Re1 {[%cal Ge8e3]} (35. Rf1 Ne3 $19) 35... Re3 $3 {Reminds us of the great Reti vs Alekhine.} 36. fxe3 (36. Qf1 Rf3 $19 {is very strong.}) 36... Qxg3+ 37. Kf1 {Adhiban said that he saw until here in his calculations, but then left it. Well, what can we say. He only had to look two moves deeper.} Qf3+ 38. Kg1 dxe3 $19 {And it's all over. Black is a rook down, but has a completely crushing attack.}) 35. Ne2 {[%emt 0:01:09]} Qf6 {[%emt 0:05:26]} 36. Rc1 {[%emt 0:01:00]} Qf5 {[%emt 0:01:09] This is akin to a draw offer.} 37. Qxf5 {[%emt 0:05:05]} gxf5 {[%emt 0:00:02]} 38. Kf1 { [%emt 0:00:08]} d3 {[%emt 0:00:20]} 39. Nc3 {[%emt 0:00:17]} Nxc3 {[%emt 0:03: 28]} 40. Rxc3 {[%emt 0:00:00]} Bd4 {[%emt 0:01:00]} 41. Rb3 {[%emt 0:01:00]} g6 {[%emt 0:03:40]} 42. f3 {[%emt 0:01:12]} Be5 {[%emt 0:06:43]} 43. g4 {[%emt 0: 01:03]} fxg4 {[%emt 0:01:27]} 44. fxg4 {[%emt 0:00:02]} Bf6 {[%emt 0:00:48]} 45. h5 {[%emt 0:00:28]} gxh5 {[%emt 0:01:29]} 46. gxh5 {[%emt 0:00:01]} Re5 { [%emt 0:02:37]} 47. h6 {[%emt 0:00:46]} Kh7 {[%emt 0:00:25]} 48. Rxd3 {[%emt 0: 01:08]} Rf5+ {[%emt 0:00:04]} 49. Ke2 {[%emt 0:00:05]} Bxb2 {[%emt 0:00:04] A great result for Adhiban, but he would have really wished that he would have found Qg4! But in any case, drawing the World Champion with the black pieces is a great achievemet.} 1/2-1/2

Magnus Carlsen knows that he would be facing Adhiban many times in the future! 

SS: Anish Giri in one of the video interviews said that if there was one player he had to choose whose games he did not understand it had to be Adhiban! Is your opinion the same about Anish as well? Or do you understand his playing style well?

BA: Funnily enough, my respect for him hugely increased in the first four rounds when I was really struggling against these top players.  To be unbeatable against these elite players tournament after tournament is no joke. I applaud him for that. Once he figures out a way to control his style he could very well become like a superior version of the great Tigran Petrosian!

Adhiban thinks that Anish Giri, who is his good friend, can become a superior version of the great World Champion Tigran Petrosian

SS: Last round against Richard Rapport seemed like a very easy win for you? Was it like your opponent was burnt out and tired? How did you sustain physically?

BA: Yes now it does seem like that, but during the game I was very focused because Rapport is definitely a huge talent and never to be underestimated in any circumstances. I think it was more based on form, if he had been on good form he would have been much more dangerous.

As for my physical fitness, I was doing floor exercises before the rounds and used to take walks on the beach. To put in a nutshell : “I just take walks and beat monsters!”

SS: What does this third place performance mean to you? Do you think you are right up there with the best?

BA: It means a lot to me, since I have to prove myself and that I can hold my own against this type of field.  From a Qualifier in the “C” group, I have now become a Master!

Yes I do feel like I am ready, but of course I still have to keep getting stronger (never forget about that). It would be great If I could get more invitations, 2750 is the next barrier I need to aim for.  I need to be patient and use every opportunity I get.

SS: What is your opinion about Wesley So? How does he win such strong events with such ease?

BA: I have known him since childhood and he always had this computer like precision in calculation or positional play, it is amazing how strong he has become. I guess he is able to win such strong events  because he can maintain his top form in every  tournament he wins!

The winner of the Tata Steel 2017 – Wesley So 

SS: What are your next tournaments? And what’s your aim for the year 2017?

BA: I have got Aeroflot and then later on Asian Continental where I get a chance at qualifying for the World Cup and then World teams and the journey continues… (ed- Adhiban's performance at the Aeroflot Open which will conclude on the 1st of March was not at all impressive)

SS: Adhiban, thanks a lot for your time and effort.

BA: Anytime! I would also like to take this opportunity to Thank ChessBase and ChessBase India for their support and encouragement and Firstpost for covering the chess scene in India so intensively. Also special thanks to my trainers Ubilava, Visweswaran, my friend Vishnu. I am also grateful to All Indian Chess Federation (AICF) for always supporting me in my chess journey. There are many more in the list I wish to thank, one day!

My parents who have been my pillars of support, helping me become what I am today and wanting me to be sportsperson even before I was born! Lastly for choosing chess over football!

Firstpost and ChessBase India have collaborated to bring you extensive and detailed coverage of the chess scene in India and internationally. This article was first published on the Firstpost website on 18th February 2017.

On 1st of March 2017, Adhiban's second GM Vishnu Prasanna will be present at the ChessBase India online live show on Playchess at 4.30 p.m. CET (9 p.m. Indian time). All the details on how to watch the live show can be found here.


Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder of the ChessBase India website.
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benedictralph benedictralph 3/2/2017 04:47
Unlike Wesley So, Anish Giri is clearly incapable of gaining any weight.
vishyvishy vishyvishy 3/2/2017 05:42
You have done so poor in Aeroflot , holding your current rating should be your first target.
vishyvishy vishyvishy 3/2/2017 05:43
With One Good show at Tata Steel you have caught with superiority complex , better be humble and work hard.
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