Karthikeyan Murali: A queen sacrifice on move nine

by Johannes Fischer
6/11/2019 – Chances to sacrifice your queen after nine moves are rare. But in round five of the Asian Continental Championship in Xingtai, China, the Indian Grandmaster Karthikeyan Murali had such a chance. He used it to win a brilliancy against Alireza Firouzja and to take the lead in the tournament. | Photo: Amruta Mokal (Archive)

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A surprising queen sacrifice

Host of the Asian Continental Chess Championship 2019 is the Chinese Chess Federation. The Open Championship and the Women's Championship are played in parallel in Xingtai, a city with about 700,000 inhabitants in the Northeast of China.

Number one seed is the Indian Grandmaster Vidit Gujrathi, who is the only player in the tournament who has a rating of more than 2700. However, the field is strong and among the favourites are players like Adhiban Baskaran from India, the two Iranian talents Parham Maghsoodloo and Alireza Firouzja or Le Quang Liem from Vietnam.

First move at the board of Vidit Gujrathi (right) | Photo: Chinese Chess Federation

With 3½/4 Alireza Firouzja, the world's best player U16, had a good start and was about to cross the 2700-mark on the Live-Rating list, when he had to play against Karthikeyan Murali, World Champion U12 2011 and World Champion U16 in 2013. After nine moves Karthikeyan sacrificed his queen for two pieces to create a masterpiece – and to become sole leader with 4½/5.


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Women's Tournament

In the women's tournament Dinara Saduakassova from Kazakhstan leads the rating-list.

Dinara Saduakossava | Photo: Chinese Chess Federation

36 players started in the tournament but a lot of well-known names are missing and even the Chinese Chess Federation, organiser and host of the event, did not send the best Chinese women to play.

After five rounds Kulkarni Bhakti from India leads with 4½/5. Dinara Saduakassova, Li Xueyi, and Irene Sukander follow half a point behind.








Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".
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genem genem 6/15/2019 12:18
A.Firouzja vs M.Karthikeyan, June 2019

After 11. f23 nh5<f6, J.Fischer made an interesting Annotation:

"Despite [White's] material advantage, the position is much more difficult to play for White - the engines evaluate [the position] as about equal, which usually is a bad sign for the [color] which is [has the material advantage]."
KevinC KevinC 6/12/2019 04:32
Still, it was a very nice game.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 6/12/2019 04:16
KevinC, Sure 11 Bd3 exf2+ 12 Kxf2 looks better than the game, but after 12... Nbd7 I don't think black is in any danger of losing. A possible follow-up is 13 Re1 Ne5 14 Qc2 b6 15 a4 Ba6 16 a5 Rfc8 17 Bf1 Nfd7 18 axb6 axb6, black is likely to get a second pawn, but doesn't have to hurry taking it. Black can also wait for white to open up and only then come to life. Not bad when playing black, so contrary to what you write, I expect some good fighting games with it.
KevinC KevinC 6/12/2019 02:10
I wonder how long Firouzja thought after 10...de since it became clear pretty early that he cannot win e3 easily, and thus, f3 is a big mistake. Just Bd3 (or Qc2 first) and threaten to 0-0, and black is the one trying to draw. White might have trouble winning since black has no weaknesses, or weaknesses that can be defended, but once he has to open up to try and win, white can come to life. I suspect that we will not see this a lot after this game.
geeker geeker 6/12/2019 03:51
After enjoying the recent Chessbase articles on the Bryntse Gambit, this queen sac was particularly timely and interesting. In the Bryntse, the Q is sac'd on move 6!
DiegoMastrangelo DiegoMastrangelo 6/12/2019 12:15
After I submitted the comment, the games appeared, so I guess it is something related to refreshing the page!
DiegoMastrangelo DiegoMastrangelo 6/12/2019 12:14
I am not seeing the game with the amazing queen sacrifice, why?
John Maccormack John Maccormack 6/11/2019 10:23
Where's the game with the great queen sacrifice? Please show me. John MacCormack
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 6/11/2019 06:36
Karthikeyan's game with Firoujza reminds me a game between simen agdestein and raymond keene in Gausdal 1983 ... where Keene sacrificed his queen for two minor pieces, adopting modern defence ... but he could only draw the game , though having initiative....
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 6/11/2019 06:34
come on Karthi and co and Bakthi and co .....!