13th Asian Continental – a two-nation battle

by Sagar Shah
4/19/2014 – The Open Section has 64 players, including 32 GMs and 11 IMs, and a 2398 average rating. There are 32 prizes, with the winner receiving US $6000. The Women's section has 32 players and a decent rating average of 2141, with the first prize being $3000. The event is essentially a powerhouse confrontation of the two big chess nations: India and China. Three rounds have been played.

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Suppose you are a budding talent from Asia and your dream is to attain the absolute top chess honour of becoming the World Chess Champion. How can this dream be converted into reality? Here is the route.

  • You take part in the Asian Continental Chess Championships that have started in UAE, specifically in Sharjah, from the 16-26th April 2014.
  • Finish amongst top 5 players of the tournament and qualify for the World Cup that is to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2015.
  • Win the World cup or finish as a runner up and get qualified for the Candidates 2016.
  • Win the Candidates 2016 tournament.
  • Challenge the World Champion (most probably Magnus Carlsen who might have reached 3000 ELO by then!)
  • Beat the World Champion and become the undisputed World Chess Champion!

Quite a long process, I agree, but this gives an opportunity to every single player to dream big! You can definitely understand the importance Asian Continental Chess Championships hold. The Asian Continental Chess Championships both for Open and Women category are being held from 16th-26th April in the city of Sharjah, UAE.

The biggest incentive for players apart from becoming the Asian champion and winning good prize money is the qualification to World Cup 2015. The top five players from the Asian Continental Open category and the winner of Asian Continental women will qualify for the World Cup 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The beautiful Gold Souq area of Sharjah at night [Image: TreckEarth]

The Sharjah Cricket Stadium, currently holding a very big event of Indian Premier League (IPL)

But let us focus our attention on chess and the Asian Continental Championship. The Open Section is extremely strong with 64 players and an average rating of 2398. There are 32 GMs and 11 IMs in the field. It is a nine round event, with a single round every day. The first prize is US $6000, and there are in all 32 prizes. So half the players will go back home with some prize money, and the last place also has a decent amount of $600.

This tournament is more like two powerhouses of Asian Chess, India and China, fighting out against each other for the top honours. In the top ten seeds of the tournament there are four Chinese and four Indian players! I have compared one Chinese player with one Indian, just to give you an idea as to how well matched they are!

Bu Xiangzhi (2699) and Krishnan Sasikiran (2680)

Bu Xiangzhi (2699) is the top seed of the event. Though he has not been playing very actively recently he still remains a huge force to reckon. Bu was at one point the youngest GM in the world when he achieved the feat at 13 years 10 months and 13 days.

While Bu’s experience at top level chess has been quite extensive, the Indian GM Krishnan Sasikiran too needs no introduction. Sasikiran is one of the most talented and hard-working players in Indian chess. He has not only locked horns with the best but also beaten world class players like Aronian, Anand, Ponomariov, Adams etc. He has already qualified for the World Cup 2015 on the basis of becoming National Champion in December 2013.

Yu Yangyi (2667) and Parimarjan Negi (2640)

Parimarjan Negi, born in 1992, is considered by many as the brightest talent in India currently. He became a GM at the tender age for 13 years three months and 13 days. He was the champion of this event in 2012, so he knows what is like to be the best in Asia. Recently he got admitted into the world famous Stanford University, which is a huge feat for a chess player in general.

Yu Yangyi born in 1994 was not as quick as Negi to achieve his GM title. However he more than compensated it by his recent achievements. He became the World Junior Champion in 2013, and if we go by the names of the past World Junior champions like Anand, Aronian, Kasparov etc. we realize that this kid has a very bright future ahead of him. Just a month ago he won the very strong Chinese Championships. The World Junior 2013 title has qualified Yu for the World Cup 2015.

Ni Hua (2654) and Surya Shekhar Ganguly (2631)

Touted as huge talents, both these players were expected to break into the 2700 mark with ease. While Ni Hua who was at one point at a high with a rating of 2724, he has now lost almost 70 rating points. Ganguly on the other hand, rendered invaluable services to Vishy Anand, which helped the latter to become World Champion or retain his title. Both these players must have come to the tournament with grim determination to perform to their true potential and become the Asian Champion.

Wei Yi (2629) and Abhijeet Gupta (2630)

While age is not the common factor amongst these two players, their strength is. Almost equally rated both these players have a lot of achievements to their credit. Wei Yi has the amazing distinction of become the youngest player in the history of chess to break in 2600, at the age of 14 years and four months. The ease with which he beat Nepomniachtchi and Shirov in World Cup 2013 just shows his immense talent. Even Garry Kasparov has made a note of him as a rising star.

On the other hand Abhijeet Gupta has a penchant for winning tournaments. He became the Junior World Champion in 2008, and has won many prestigious events, like the Prasvanath International Open, the Commonwealth Chess Championships, the Al Ain Classic, the Philadelphia Open – and the list continues. Just to make my task easier I can direct you to his newly launched website to know more about his achievements.

To the not so observant viewer, this might seem like an India-China match. However there are two more spots left in the top ten seeds and they are taken up by players from Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

Rustam Kasimdzhanov is the second seed of the event with a rating of 2693. He already won the World Cup in 2004 and become the FIDE World Chess Champion. He worked for many years as Vishy Anand’s second and helped him in his bid to become the World Champion. The list of top ten seeds is completed by Nguyen Ngoc Truongson (2621) who is one of the best players from Vietnam after Le Quang Liem.

The Indians have sent a very strong contingent with all of their four young talents in the form of Vidit Gujrathi (2601, top left), B Adhiban (2609, top right), Lalith Babu (2594, bottom left) and S.P. Sethuraman (2578, bottom right) taking part in this year’s Asian Continental. These four youngsters are marching ahead as a unit when it comes to their ratings, and all of them are a grave threat to the top ten seeds of the tournament.

Top rankings after round three

Rk. SNo Ti Name FED Rtg Pts. TB3 
1 4 GM Yu Yangyi CHN 2667 3.0 2530
2 12 GM Adhiban B. IND 2609 3.0 2507
3 18 GM Ghaem Maghami Ehsan IRI 2556 3.0 2490
4 23 GM Rahman Ziaur BAN 2513 2.5 2581
5 2 GM Kasimdzhanov Rustam UZB 2693 2.5 2508
6 14 GM Wen Yang CHN 2581 2.5 2505
7 1 GM Bu Xiangzhi CHN 2699 2.5 2484
8 36 GM Kunte Abhijit IND 2470 2.0 2561
9 45 IM Omar Noaman UAE 2361 2.0 2530
10 47 Fang Yan CHN 2323 2.0 2507
11 48 Chu Wei Chao CHN 2315 2.0 2505
12 17 GM Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2561 2.0 2470
13 8 GM Gupta Abhijeet IND 2630 2.0 2424
14 34 IM Vakhidov Jahongir UZB 2472 2.0 2261
15 19 GM Gopal G.N. IND 2553 2.0 2249
16 33 GM Shyam Sundar M. IND 2481 2.0 2248
17 29 GM Al-Sayed Mohammed QAT 2502 2.0 2194
18 22 GM Batchuluun Tsegmed MGL 2521 2.0 2631
19 42 Xu Yinglun CHN 2381 2.0 2610
20 24 IM Wang Chen CHN 2513 2.0 2580
28 GM Debashis Das IND 2504 2.0 2580
22 30 IM Idani Pouya IRI 2502 2.0 2576
37 GM Vishnu Prasanna. V IND 2465 2.0 2576
24 7 GM Ganguly Surya Shekhar IND 2631 2.0 2513
25 15 GM Jumabayev Rinat KAZ 2580 2.0 2504
26 10 GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son VIE 2621 2.0 2502
27 16 GM Sethuraman S.P. IND 2576 2.0 2465
28 6 GM Negi Parimarjan IND 2640 2.0 2465
29 11 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi IND 2610 2.0 2415
30 9 GM Wei Yi CHN 2629 2.0 2381

The Women's Championship

With the top five Chinese women Hou Yifan, Xie Jun, Zhao Xue, Ju Wenjun and Ruan Lufei, and the top two Indian women Koneru Humpy and Dronavalli Harika, not taking part in this year’s Asian Continental women championship, the strength of the tournament is quite diminished. Yet it boasts of a decent rating average of 2141, with 32 players in the field. The first prize is US $3000.

Chinese WGM Tan Zhongyi, rated 2488, is the top seed in the Women’s Section

IM Munguntuul Batkhuyag (2432) from Mongolian is the second seed

IM Tania Sachdev (2427), who has recently achieved great success in chess teaching
through her DVD “Improve your chess with Tania Sachdev”, is the third seed

Top rankings after three rounds

Rk. SNo Title Name FED Rtg Pts. TB3 
1 17 WGM Nguyen Thi Thanh An VIE 2237 2.5 2494
2 11 WIM Ni Shiqun CHN 2325 2.5 2436
3 12 WGM Sukandar Irine Kharisma INA 2319 2.5 2349
4 14 WGM Khademalsharieh Sarasadat IRI 2292 2.5 2332
5 6 WIM Abdumalik Zhansaya KAZ 2379 2.5 2131
6 8 WGM Pourkashiyan Atousa IRI 2335 2.5 1792
7 10 WIM Gong Qianyun SIN 2327 2.5 1773
8 1 WGM Tan Zhongyi CHN 2488 2.0 2131
9 7 WGM Soumya Swaminathan IND 2336 2.0 2069
10 13 WIM Nguyen Thi Mai Hung VIE 2312 2.0 1623
11 2 IM Munguntuul Batkhuyag MGL 2432 2.0 2224
12 15 WGM Hoang Thi Bao Tram VIE 2280 2.0 2166
13 3 IM Tania Sachdev IND 2427 1.5 2549
14 5 WGM Gomes Mary Ann IND 2386 1.5 2436
15 21 WFM Tohirjonova Hulkar UZB 2126 1.5 2349
16 18 WIM Hoang Thi Nhu Y VIE 2207 1.5 2277
17 20 WFM Derakhshani Dorsa IRI 2154 1.5 2277
18 4 IM Karavade Eesha IND 2414 1.5 2243
19 16 WGM Swathi Ghate IND 2269 1.5 2166
20 9 IM Pham Le Thao Nguyen VIE 2332 1.5 1990

Asian Continental Blitz Championship

On 19th April after the 3rd round, a blitz championship will be held, with a first prize of US $1500. The time control of the event is 3 minutes + 2 sec increment. GM Pentala Harikrishna from India, with an ELO of 2726 the fourth highest rated player in Asia after Anand, Wang Hao and Wesley So, will take part in the Asian Continental Blitz Championship. He will be the hot favourite to win the title.

Video reports by Vijay Kumar

13th Asian Continental Open and Wome's Chess Championship Round 1

13th Asian Continental Open and Wome's Chess Championship Round 2

13th Asian Continental Open and Wome's Chess Championship Round 3


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. 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 and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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